So it is the Tuesday after the adventure of buying a classic Ferrari sight unseen then driving it 2700+ miles across the USA during one of the hottest weeks of the year. Guess it is time to put on my logical brain and start dissecting what completely brought this on. Let’s start with the very beginning and work to the present day, I do expect this to take a few posts.
I am a child of the 80’s being born in the early 70s. This means that Cannonball Run and Magnum P.I. were must see TV/Movie’s for me. While Miami Vice was definitely watched (seems mostly I remember bad clothing and Phil Collins singing and not that famous Testorossa) the real first Ferrari I remember as a child was the 308. Who can forget the Priests hauling their red rocket in the ‘Run or Tom Selleck wheeling that precious 308 around scenic Hawaii? If you were alive and kicking in the 80s and watching TV you knew what a Ferrari 308 was.
Now a history lesson for those who know more about Cabernets and Rieslings than Ferraris. The 308 was the first of the now famous F-cars (I think of them as the mid-engine V8’s) made by Ferrari, it also represented the replacement to the 246 GT Dino. F-Cars include the more recent F430 as well as the new 458 Italia. The first production 308’s came out in 1976 and were fibreglass bodies, in 1977 the first steel bodied units came off the line. Originally there were only GTB’s (Gran Turismo Berlinetta) aka: solid roofed 2 seater coupe. In 1977 Ferrari came out with a Spyder targa-topped version (called GTS) that is the better known version of the 308. From 76-80 the 308 was a carbureted car, using four Weber carburetors, had no power steering and no power brakes. The production numbers during this glorious era were as per the numbers below. I could go into alot more detail, but needless to say the 308 GTB of the late 70s is a unique car, when all production numbers are taken in accounted for approximately 6000 hand built cars over 6 years. There are speculations on how many of each version still exist, but a rough figure of 50% attrition means that 3000 or less remain. For those interested in the demand, the fibreglass models have seen a huge upward curve in prices the last few years, and many speculate that steel bodied GTBs may soon follow. I will not get into speculation, but it is easy to tell you that if you bought a 246 GT Dino 7 years ago when the prices were in the low to mid 5 figures, you are quite enjoying the usual 250,000 or more they are fetching in the current market, feel free to extrapolate.
308 GTB/GTS Production Numbers 1975-1980
308 GTB (Fibreglass) 712
308 GTB (Steel) 2185
308 GTS (Steel) 3219
With the history lesson covered it is probably obvious that I was/am a fan of the early 308’s, in particular the GTBs over the GTS’. Why? Well rarity was one reason, but the solid roof meant one thing less I had to worry about and overall I just believe that the GTB is a cleaner looking Ferrari. As one less then tactful saying goes, opinions are like arseholes everyone has one. With this desire for a 308 GTB I undertook the process of figuring out how to go about buying one and eventually maintaining the prancing horse. This led me to a plethora of websites and forums, with Ferrari Life and Ferrari Chat being the two I most commonly perused. Both sites have very good but different qualities to them, and like any online message board you need to ignore the drivel and concentrate on the goal, in my case as much information about 308’s I could muster. The first thing I learnt from my internet readings was that great 308s are hard to find and are much lower in price currently then other older model Ferraris. Mostly this is due to the abundance of crap 308s that are priced low because, well, they are crap. As with anything else if 8 of 10 cars for sale are in average to bad condition but priced 50-60% lower, those 2 other good/great cars suffer the pricing game. Ferrari’s are not cars that one can buy, neglect for many years and turn around and make money. In fact Ferrari’s simply cannot be neglected, and if I learnt one thing about Ferrari’s when reading the forums it was that most of the people who own 308’s and post on these board LOVE their cars and are mostly representative of the 2 out of 10 example above. As I continued to delve into the world of the prancing horse, I also started to understand the finer things about 308’s and what to look for and what to ignore. Mechanically I wanted a sound car that hand major servicing done and was routinely driven (more they are driven the better they are). As for cosmetics, while very important to ensure some of the basics (little to no rust, no major collisions…) it seemed that the cosmetic part could be overlooked for a mechanically sound 308. At the end of the day there was no manual for buying a 30+ year old car, but there were some basic guidelines to live by.
The tasked moved from figuring out what to look for to where to find them. The usual suspects arose but the three in question that I really monitored were ebay, the Dupont Registry and the Ferrari Chat classifieds as the autotrader classics section was a true hit or miss. Then came the waiting game, lots and lots of waiting. Oh, I failed to mention the debating with Mrs CWG was also at times interesting. Fast forward many months to June of 2011, several 308’s had come and gone and I had my eye squarely at a Chat/Life member’s black/red 308 GTB (sorry again Steve)), but as I was working towards getting a PPI (Pre-Purchase Inspection) arranged, one evening I found myself at a friend’s home who happens to be not just a Publisher/Editor in the automotive field, but also a car nut like myself. After talking about the nearing 308 purchase, Michael brought up this email he had just received from Ferraris-online.com, Michael Sheehan’s brokerage site. Michael Sheehan is a well known name in the Ferrari world and has been selling cars for a very long time. Well the email was flipped to me and there was a very good looking advertisement for a 1978 308 GTB. From there the relationship with ‘Gertrude’ and I started. I will post more on that in the upcoming days, including a full run down of the car’s in and outs and some funny tid bits on the trip. Till then, here are some photos!