Feature: Bloodline – 30 Years Of Ferrari Magic!
Ferrari. Fewer names are so symbolic of the ultimate sports car dream. The company founded in 1929 by Enzo Ferrari. Since its inception it has become synonymous with unbeatable road going supercars and unrivalled racing heritage. All Ferrari models have, during their time been someone’s dream to own, look at and drive.
The V8 Ferrari originally represented the junior side to the brands range. Anything less than a V12 was known as a Dino, named after Ferrari’s younger son who sadly died at an early age. The V8 models subsequently became known as the ‘baby Ferrari’, with Ferrari initially reserving his own name for the higher-powered cars. The Dino model name was eventually dropped part way through the 308’s lifecycle and subsequently formed the beginning of what would become the most distinctive range of cars in history.
Here we have the ultimate V8 Ferrari collection spanning through the ages – from that Dino Ferrari 308 to the latest ultimate F430 Scuderia. Members of Supercar Driver own all of the cars you see here.
We took on the task of getting them all together in one place and comparing each of the cars, whilst finding out a little more about their eccentric owners.
First up, the Ferrari Dino 308 GT4. This is the car that started it all, the first V8 Ferrari. Getting its name from the 3litre V8 engine it was in production from 1973 to 1980 and launched as a 2+2 coupe. An interesting car to look at, it was designed by Bertone, of Lamborghini fame and this is prevalent in the lines of the car. This 308 GT4 is owned by Lee and he loves it. He’s a lecturer at a University and is a big fan of the older generation of Ferrari. “They are such easy DIY” he says “They are from an age where everything is screwed together with big nuts and bolts”. The parts are also relatively inexpensive but it is not one for the work-shy. “With modern cars we forget that cars used to need looking after”. This one is no exception, requiring a level of ‘active maintenance’ to keep it on top form. Lee’s 308 is currently leaking oil but “it’s all part of the character” Lee remarks! The GT4 has a 0-60 time of less than 8 seconds and a top speed of 141mph, certainly no slouch for a 33-year-old car!
Lee’s particular GT4 has had an interesting life; it’s a UK car, but after its first owner sold it, it was shipped to Hong Kong. At some point it later ended up in the United States before being re-imported back to the UK. A lot of the history during this period is unknown but for Lee this just makes it more of an interesting car to own.
Getting inside the car you can identify its age. Manual switchgear and the thin door-shuts depict the model as a classic thoroughbred. The materials have all aged surprisingly well, no doubt thanks to a lot of attention this car has lavished in the past 33 years. The seats are small – typical of car of this era. The legroom is tight up front and non-existent for the rear passengers.
Although penned by Bertone the car still has that Ferrari shape. Those big round lights at the back, the bulging bonnet and wide arches up front, setting the scene for what would become a trait with all future Ferrari’s. Step forward 308 GTS.
A-ha! Its Magnum’s car. Tom Seleck’s TV series gave Ferrari a lot to be thankful for in the mainstream market. The 308 has the shape that many identify as the ultimate classic Ferrari and although shares the similar name with the GT4 it is a contrasting curved shape and strictly 2 seater. It was introduced in 1975 as a two-seater coupe to complement the 2+2 GT4, with the GTS targa-top starting production in 1977. The first of the 308 GTB’s had fiberglass body shells but produced in very limited numbers and are now very rare, with the majority being made of steel.
When we meet up at our location first thing in the morning, Ray – the owner of the 308 GTS in this feature – is running late. We know he’s near as the sound can be heard for miles around. He’s also lost, the sky audio panning from left to right and back again. Eventually he finds us, beaming a wide smile and accompanied by his new dog – a puppy named Tilly!
Ray parks his car ready for the photo shoot and gives the car a quick clean. As with all the owners here today, Ray is one of the members of Supercar Driver. He’s also bursting with life and mad as a hatter. Working at Bentley by day, in the past he also maintained the Sultan of Brunei’s personal car collection for a number of years.
After a brief blast with the polish, satisfied with the result on his GTS, he comes back over to the team for a morning hello – Auto Glym dangling from his trouser pocket in a way that only a true professional of the motor industry knows how.
The 308 GTS looks great, and sounds fantastic. It has 240bhp and will reach a top speed of more than 150mph – not too shabby for a 30 year old car! The 308 was in production in one form or another for 10 years before ultimately being replaced by the 328.
The 328 you see on these pages is owned by Neil who obligingly takes me out for a spin. The 328 is a model largely based on the 308 with some body modifications and the increased engine size to 3.2 litres. The power delivery on this car is immediately satisfying – it gets to 60mph in less than 6 seconds and when the boot is down gives you a satisfying kick back in your seat. Many modern sports cars can’t achieve the same speed of this 25 year old car, the handling and power feel all the more impressive by the relatively low curb weight and sparseness of the creature comforts we take for granted in modern cars.
Neil hasn’t owned the car long, but it’s the model that he’s always wanted. It has a sports exhaust and the removable roof panel. “This gives you the feeling of being in a convertible without the exposure” he laughs. An admirable car indeed, but an appreciation that is lost on his son. “He prefers Porsche’s” Neil says with a slight grimace. “He keeps telling me to sell it and buy one of those”. I don’t think that is going to happen somehow…
We arrive back with the group and Ray is already dusting the paint on his 308 again.
As we head off to change location for a few photo’s the public attraction to these cars is evidently noticeable – heads craning from all directions as these rare beauties rumble into view.
On this leg of the journey I’m in the F355 with Neil. The ultimate Ferrari for any 30-something and this convertible version doesn’t disappoint. The sun is out and our group are happy.
Weighing in at 1350kgs the F355 develops 380bhp and will get to 60 in just 4.6 seconds. The almost too-perfect shape on the F355 doesn’t seem to date – only its relatively small demeanour compared to newer models gives the game away. The sound is perfect Ferrari – arguably one of the greatest sounding cars ever made. The red coach-work, topped with lashings of Crema leather, gives a welcome reminder as to why these cars just aren’t depreciating. Acceleration is brisk and tuneful as with all the cars in this group a smile is guaranteed! Neil has owned the car for a few years and loves it. Being a red convertible Ferrari I ask about the attention it receives; “A lot” is the answer. “It is a great talking point if you pull into a pub car park, people want to know more about it” he says. And of the type of attention it generates? “The right kind of attention from the wrong kind of women” he laughs.
We find a deserted stretch of road, ideal for some photo opportunities. A minor chaos and we get the cars in the right order – Dom the photographer giving directions for inch perfect photos, making sure that none of the cars get bumped.
Meanwhile, Ray spots some large, concrete slabs at the side of the road. Seemingly mistaking them for hurdles he heads off on a comical energetic leaping sprint, stopping momentarily to decide if this elevated position is an optimum photo spot for Dom.
Moving onto the modern Ferrari’s, Richard hands me the keys to his 360. This is a Spider edition with the F1 auto gearbox. Richard is one of the organisers at Supercar Driver and his 360 is a regular feature of days out. It has the cream leather interior and compared to the older Ferrari’s, its shape looks huge. He uses the 360 on a daily basis and treats it the same as any other car. “I bought it to use it” he says.
It was also treated to £5 car-wash special before arriving today and Rich shows us the engine bay. Beaming with pride informs us how he hosed the engine down this morning especially to make it look nice!
Getting in the car you notice how these cars get bigger with each new model. On the 308 I can peer over the top of the roof and legroom is tight but step into the 360 and there is bags of room. The auto gearbox helps even further with a lack of clutch pedal.
Hitting the accelerator the 360 shoots forward with an extreme intoxicating soundtrack – custom sports exhaust extracting every tuneful note from the 3.6litre, 400bhp engine. Changing gear on the paddles is a rapid affair, getting you into lofty speeds within a very short period of time. As we get to the roundabout, a few blips of the gears and we’re set for another blast down the straight road.
The 360 has a modern feel to it in all aspects and comparing its size to the other cars here shows how Ferrari has expanded the waistline over the years whilst improving performance at every turn.
The crowds are gathering and several of the public have stopped by to take some photos of their own! Time for a morning snack. The group decides that donuts are the order of the day and a local donut drive-thru can provide the answer! Stewart offers to take me in the 430 Scuderia.
Stuart has just picked up this car but he’s no stranger to the world of Ferrari. He made it his aim to own a Ferrari by the time he was 40 and in his 40th year, he bought and sold a staggering seven Ferrari cars including a rare 16M edition. This is his 4th Scuderia model and this blue F430 is the original Ferrari press car with a tome of service history to go with it. It’s had a famous life so far, with bums-on-seats including Girls Aloud, Jason Plato and numerous other TV celebrities.
The 430 is sparse in luxury, being the business end of Ferrari’s track focused armoury. Extraordinarily fast and loud it’s also the roomiest car of our group and the reason that Stewart will likely stay with the 430 for a very long time. “The 360’s are smaller inside and that’s no good for me,” says our tall friend “and the new 458 has got less room as well, so I’ll stick with the 430”.
All of these cars are very special for many different reasons and their popularity was demonstrated further by pulling the crowd from an American Car show that was being hosted at the donut shop. We didn’t make many friends as a result but the donuts were very good indeed!
So then, what is the best car out of this 30 year lineage? The answer to that will always be a personal one – I’m sure every owner here will tell you different. For me the biggest surprise was the 328. I didn’t really know what to expect but I certainly wasn’t expecting the power that the car has. It drives lovely, sounds great and has quicker acceleration than should be expected for a car of this age – even one as magic as the Ferrari.
The 308 is a classic that everyone loves and the GT4 is an interesting car in its own right. My heart though, says the F355. This was the car that I grew up with as a young lad. Those beautiful, classic sports car lines – a clean focused shape mated to arguably the best sounding engine note that has ever existed. But as an everyday prospect it might be a little challenging – that would have to be a modern Ferrari and on balance that would be the 360. A grown-up car with lots of interior space, designed for the newer generation who have no clue what a spanner does and to that end it would suit me just perfectly. That just leaves the F430. In our line-up we are treated to the awesome Scuderia and it is a real track focused car, sparse on content and lavished with noise! On the roads the acceleration is astonishing and to look at and be in it’s just bonkers. It has an unbelievable road-presence.
I love them all. Stuart sums it up nicely, saying that every petrol-head has it in them to own a Ferrari. “Whether it be a 308, through the different models up to F430 and beyond there is a model available to suit all budgets. With some hard work anyone can own one. For a car enthusiast I truly believe that everyone should own a Ferrari at some point in their life”.
It’s a thought shared by all of our owners; all are passionate about their cars and the rewards of owning a prancing horse are clear.
The only decision left to make is – which one will yours be?
* The Missing Link
Try as we might, unfortunately we couldn’t get hold of the one missing car in this line up – The Ferrari 348. Launched in 1989, the 348 was in production until 1995 when it was superceded by the F355. The 348 is a great entry level Ferrari. Launched at a time of recession they were produced in limited numbers and were not firm favourites, with the press complaining of twitchy handling on the limit. The car develops 300bhp and shares many of its components with the Mondial.
In 1993, the revised model was launched with the colour-coded skirts and improved performance – taking the output to 320bhp and a 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds. The battery was also moved to the front to improve weight distribution.
If you have one of these cars, join us at www.supercardriver.com and tell us about your ownership experience.
Article originally written in 2010 and published in Supercar Driver Magazine.