Driver’s Seat: Ferrari 308 GTB

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The 308 GTB is a great driver’s car. It really is comfortable, agile, and a pleasure to drive. It may not be amazingly quick by today’s standards (but neither is a Daytona, Dino, Boxer, or F40 for that matter) but it still has plenty of power to tackle both the hills and highway.

This would be the first long drive in almost 4 months and the 1st after a major engine rebuild. One turn of the key and the reborn engine fired right up. As the low fuel light was bright red, off we went to the station for a tank of fermented dinosaur remains. 18 gallons later, we were ready to head to the highway for a gentle warm up run. All the gauges started moving north and then to the east right exactly as they should. Once everything was warmed up, it was off at the next exit and up into the hills for a short jaunt before heading back down to the coast to complete the circuit.  

As soon as we started heading up into the hills, memories of why I am fond of this Ferrari came immediately back. It is a truly involving car to drive. With very few people out, the pace was quick and with the windows down, I could hear the 8 cylinder sound track bouncing between the valleys. Even the mountain bikers that I passed smiled and waved.  While the steering lightens up once you get going, it still requires two firm hands and concentration to keep it on the right line. As the road curves back and forth while rolling across the hills, you constantly need to clang the stick through the metal gate to keep it on song. Keep the engine above 3500 rpms and it has plenty of teeth, below and it just gums at the road until the revs build back up.  The way in which the exhaust starts screaming at 4000 rpms just serves to reinforce the sensation of power delivery. I used to drive the same route in a 512 BB but it is a very different experience. With the big Flat 12, if you get a bit lazy, you can just slot it into 3rd and use the huge reserves of torque to power you through all the twisty stuff. In a 308, you got to work hard to get it right. 

This is road in particular brings out the best in the 308 GTB. To drive it right, you need a very responsive well balanced car which fits the 308 GTB profile perfectly. It is rock on one side and trees on the other, hence zero room for mistakes. At about the half way point, I almost lost it. Not due to over exuberance, losing the back end, or anything else on my part. The culprit was a stray black horse (looked exactly like the one staring back at me from the center of the steering wheel) which wandered out of the woods into the middle of the road. He stopped, I mashed the brakes and stopped after a bit of squirrely drama. We stared at each other, he shook his head a few times, and then trotted back into the woods. I have had plenty of humans stop me to ask about different Ferraris I have been driving but this was the 1st time a real Prancing Horse has done so.

Once through the hills it was a fast run down the coast and back home. We did a cool down lap up and back on the coastal road before heading in. As this was the rebuilt engines 1st hard run, I did check the engine oil and the level was spot on.  Not a bad way to spend a weekend morning.

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March 2019

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