Photo: eBay
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!  

Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Ferrari represents what might be considered a rare styling stumble for the venerable Italian marque. Let’s see if that, and it’s modestly rough appearance, might make stumbling into it worth its asking.

There’s a lot of debate in philosophical circles as to the inherent value of being number one. Being the first in certain circumstances—first foot print on the moon, first atop Everest, etc.—is generally considered a notable achievement, and one worthy of celebrating. On the other hand, being #2 isn’t always that bad, I mean who doesn’t appreciate a good poop every now and then?

In the case of automobiles—or in fact most reasonably complicated mechanical devices—being first may prove a path forged with pitfalls. After all, who gets everything right the first time out?

In the case of the first Audi Quattro—as represented by yesterday’s 1984 Ur-Quattro—being first had its pros and cons. The Quattro dominated the rally circuit in its early days, but it couldn’t elevate Audi sales substantially owing to its high price and small production numbers.

That trend continues to today as that nice but imperfect Quattro was offered at a not insubstantial $49,995 asking, and taken as a whole the majority of you felt that was just too much. In the end the car fell in an 86 percent Crack pipe loss. Sadly, the first has now come in last.

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How many cars can you think of that have had their drivetrain placement changed in mid-model run? I’ll wait.

I can think of two, and both of them are Ferraris. One of those is represented by today’s 1992 Ferrari 348Tb, while the other is this model’s 2+2 sister, the Mondial T. Yes, I was being a little lax in my definition of different models but what are you going to do?

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Ferrari’s 348 debuted in 1989 in replacement of the 328. Initially offered in a coupe body style, the model evolved to include a targa roofed edition and eventually a full convertible Spider, the first such V8-engined convertible in Ferrari’s history. The 348 is notable for two other factors—it was the last V8-powered car developed under Enzo Ferrari’s leadership, and its 3.4-litre Quattrovalvole engine made a shift from longitudinal to transverse gearbox layout half-way through its production run.

The 300 horsepower V8's five speed grearbox initially sat criss-cross behind the cabin. A 2.9-litre edition of this drivetrain was used in the Lancia Thema 8.32, but in that car it was up front and drove the front wheels.

In the 348, the gearbox shifted to a longitudinal placement with the introduction of the Tb and Ts models. That gearbox, in emulation of Ferrari’s F1 cars at the time, remained a transverse unit with the cogs aligned with the plane of the rear axles rather than that of the crank. The model nomenclature addresses this surprising change with Tb abbreviating Transversale Berlinetta and Ts, Transversale Spider.

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This 1992 edition is the coupe, and it’s being offered by a shop called the Beverly Hills Car Club. Now, a funny thing about that name. While they do deal in exotic fare, the Beverly Hills Car Club is not located in the tony playground of the rich. Nor is the business a Club in the traditional, dues-paying, not letting in bad smelling people sense. The company is in fact located in a heavily industrial section of East Los Angeles, between the communities of Boston Heights and El Sereno, just north of the 10 Freeway.

They offer a bunch of cool old cars, and quite frequently they make available ones that may be a bit ratty around the edges. It’s an egalitarian effort, and puts cars like this Ferrari within reach of the upper middle class.

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What you’d be getting here is a 348 with 26,665 on the clock, and let me tell you, in Ferrari terms, that’s a butt-load of miles. Most Italian exotics rack up miles like dogs do years and in the case of this car, that means a good bit of wear on the ‘80s interior and hopefully the documented record of at least one timing belt change over the years. Another good thing to document would be the location of the air box in back as that seems to be missing. I wouldn’t attribute its absence to the miles however.

Based on the way the remainder of the body appears, I wouldn’t hold out hope for extensive maintenance having been undertaken. The ad says that the car has recently come out of storage and it’s apparent from the pictures that before that it was used for a good bit of highway driving.

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The nose is speckled with chipped paint on the bumper and leading edge of the front panel, which would need to be touched up or maybe even re-shot. There’s also the issue of the color. Blanco on beige is not the most awesome color combo for your exotic and the white body makes things like the side strake fasteners on the doors stand out like sore thumbs.

The last issue regarding this car’s appearance is directly related to those strakes. The 348 emulated the style of its larger brother, the 512 Testarossa, and honestly neither car has aged well. Both the V12 car and the 348 eschewed Ferrari’s traditional quartet of round tail lamps for nondescript horizontal units covered in each case by metal grates. Those might have been appropriate as bush guards on a Land Rover, but just complicate the design here. Pininfarina penned the car, but would return to more traditional styling cues with the F355 which succeeded and was highly derivative of the 348.

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Without service records, and with obvious aesthetic flaws, you would expect this 348 to come at a discount. Well, I don’t know if you could call $39,500 a discount, but it is pretty cheap for one of these cars that isn’t a burned out wreck or an out and out scam. The question is, do you think someone should pull the trigger at that price?

You decide!

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eBay out of Los Angeles, CA, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Fauxshizzle for the hookup!

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