Before you focus too much on its styling, consider that, in many ways, the Ferrari 348 Elaborazione is an automotive remix. With an original body by Pininfarina but updates by Zagato, it's a rare modern example of a bespoke styling do-over at the hands of a second design studio and the first Zagato Ferrari since the very square 2000 Convertible from 1974.
Admittedly, the line here is very thin, but to my eyes this car is an almost perfect 50/50 blend of the work from both Pininfarina and Zagato. With an overall profile that evokes Pininfarina-bodied Ferraris of years past and bold, intricate details courtesy of Zagato, the car is pretty busy but I think it somehow works in a '90s sort of way. (I'm a sucker for a nice double bubble roof, OK?)
The most prominent change is the lack of the stacked strake air intakes along the doors, with large NACA-style ducts in their place. That single update quickly unifies the Pininfarina form and shows just how closely the new-for-1994 F355 and earlier 348 are related.
Still, in keeping with tradition, the panels were done in hand-formed aluminum. At least this was no stick-on body kit, right? The movable rear spoiler is a nice touch, too, and elevates the car above, say, a Ferrari 348 by Koenig. Each Elaborazione was slightly different, with the yellow and red cars as the most outrageous and my favourite, the silver, toned down enough for my tastes.
Still, if you loathe glass topped engine covers as much as I do, direct your anger to this car.
In a show of pointless theatre, a reworked engine cover to highlight the V8 was installed by Zagato on this car. There was nothing different about the V8, though—it shared the 348 TB's 3.4-litre V8 engine that made 300 horsepower at 7200 rpm. Performance should have been nearly identical, unless Zagato managed to save a few lbs. from the aluminum bodywork. Zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) was in 5.6 seconds. Zagato put the car's top speed at 275 km/h (171 mph)—certainly quick enough in my book.
Quick enough, because in my research on the car it was quickly apparent that although Zagato announced they'd make more than 20, the real number is closer to 10. After appearing on the cover of Sports Car International in July 1991, and in Octane Magazine recently, the only photos of the car puts the number of examples made closer to three: one in yellow, one in red, and one in silver.
So, car lovers, keep your eyes peeled for this special early '90s sports car unicorn. What may appear to be an F355 at first glance may actually be the elusive Elaborazione.