I wrote this a number of years ago when we bought our 1st Ferrari 308 GTB. We owned it for about 2 years. As I am seriously considering getting another early 308, I went looking information from my first go around to refresh my memory.
I should have known better. Having had the privilege of owning multiple Ferraris over the years, there are several golden rules I try to follow when approaching any potential acquisition:
And yet I broke almost all of the above and ended up purchasing a modified Ferrari 308 GTB a number of years ago that I ran across on a trip to Berlin. At the time I was not looking for a 308 and had no intention of buying another 8 cylinder that did not have “F40” embossed on the rear wing or 288 GTO on its haunches.
How did it happen? Emotion coupled with some outstanding man-math driven rationalization. On the former, in my humble opinion, it was a great looking 308 GTB. Yes,it was not original, yes it had been modified, no I do not normally like modified Ferraris, but in this case, it worked. The modifications made it a bit of a mutt in the Ferrari world of purity, but this one is a love-able mutt. Net net, SN 18729 and I bonded the first time I saw it. Sorry, but at the core, it is probably that shallow and simple. The basic emotional bond between man and machine having been established, a full frontal assault of “man need” rationalization was needed before the purchase could be completed. The rational part of the brain now needed to be at least neutralized if this was going to go anywhere as there was no way I could have justify buying it.
Fortunately SN 18729 provided plenty of material on which I built a solid case:
With the rational side of the brain now at least partially satisfied, the emotional side took back over. The appeal to the emotional side began. Arguments included that as an early 308 GTB it was fairly rare, a 308 would be an interesting new ownership experience and after an extended test drive, that it really was a blast to drive with go cart like handling. The last point certainly got my attention as the balance between steering, rpms/gearing, brakes, and chassis are very different in a 308 than the larger 12 cylinder Ferraris of similar vintage of which I had already owned several. While lacking in ultimate grunt vs. the 12 cylinder cars, the 308 certainly was a lot nimbler and more resposnsive. All the points detailed above then spent the next month bouncing around the inner recesses of my skull. The fact that the 308 did not go away clearly indicated that had me on an emotional hook. By this point the rationale side of the brain was looking for a good reason to kill off any further intentions of making the purchase. About sixty emails worth of questions went back and forth with the owner. Much to the chagrin of the rationale side, not a single thing emerged in all this correspondence which could be used as a deal killer. So an offer was made, a counter proposed, and an agreement reached.
With the purchase finalized all that needed to be done was collecting the car and driving it back across half of Europe. On face value, collecting a 30 year old car car which was classified as an antique, which I wasn’t really familiar with, and then counting on it to get me back halfway across Europe, seems a bit daft. Having done it a couple of times, I have found that this the best way possible of really learning and bonding with a car quickly. Drive a thousand miles and you will hit all types of weather, traffic conditions, and road types. By the end of the trip, you will have developed a real feel and appreciation (or intense dislike) for the car.
After a 1000 or so miles, I understood why so many 308 owners are so passionate about these Ferraris. It is a blast to drive and not at all punishing. The steering is light, precise, and the 308 goes right to where you aim it. The engine has a real sense of urgency and once you get it up in the power band, provides plenty of forward thrust. The clutchis light and the gear shift is short, allowing for quick changes. Once mastered this works well for keeping the revs up in the sweet spot of the torque curve. While not blazing quick by today’s standards, it still moves into the “night in jail” area of the speedometer with plenty left to give. With the 308’s agility and power, it is clear why they are still a favorite for track use.
Sometime you can break the rules and it works out just fine.
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