The message came through at around 2pm. “It’s a nice day today guys, want to meet up later? Paul – you can have a ride in old yellow”.
The message was from Lee and ‘old yellow’ is in fact a 1970’s classic Lamborghini Urraco. A car from a bygone era and completely different to anything that I’m used to. It’s mechanical. Old.
It’s an offer that is difficult to refuse as a petrol head and so a call was placed to the management (my wife) to ensure I had enough man-points in the kitty for a last minute exertion. The answer came back positive; happy days.
With other-friend Mike joining us a few hours later, I set off to Lee’s house. Upon arrival some sixty minutes later, I was greeted by a man-with-gloves, who was just about to commence the “pre-flight checks” on the Urraco. I joined him in the garage where the car was waiting, moreover a workshop with a VW bus in a state of operational repair at the rear, and tools lining every inch of the walls.
Transfixed at the wholesomeness of this man cave, with a Lamborghini at the helm, Lee offers a word of caution “Everything in here is dirty and you….are not” he smiles, referencing my office suit attire. It didn’t matter, this is a proper petrol head grotto and nothing in here that a good washing machine can’t sort if I was to touch anything too apparel damaging.
The black-slat covered engine lid was up, displaying an old-school carburettor engine. The complete mechanical ensemble joined together by a few wires and not much else. “It’s a very simple engine”, Lee informs. “There is an engine management system over here,” referencing the type of electronic box you’d see in an 80’s computer hall, “but that’s it, everything else is mechanical”.
There was also a fire extinguisher in the boot. A cautiously wise investment for old cars, I’m told.
I step out of the garage, as Lee clambers into the driver’s side and beings the start-up process. A few moments pass and the world remains silent. “What I’m doing now,” he shouts from behind the wheel, sensing my waiting tension, “is pumping the accelerator to get fuel into the engine before I turn the ignition”.
The whole activity is somewhat comical but also adds to the occasion. After a few moments, the engine splutters in to life in a magnificent growl that only a car from the 70’s can. The wide Lamborghini is tentatively driven down the driveway, where I open the door and climb inside. Immediately noticeable is that people weren’t tall in the 70’s. This car doesn’t have much room for a 6’4” bloke. I look around for the seatbelt and notice it is affixed to the ceiling. “These are the basic seatbelts, which fix you in position, rather than extend and retract on demand,” Lee laughs. But that’s fine, my head is wedged to the roof so I’m pretty firmly in place.
We set off down the road and the sense of occasion is still apparent, even in an old car like this. The dials and speedo is from another era entirely, the seats are supportive only of my backside, but it feels classic. Classic and special. It is after all a Lamborghini. As the v8 grumbles down the road I ask Lee how it compares to his previous Ferrari 360 in terms of head-turning abilities; “It still get appreciative looks,” he tells me “It’s an unusual, old-school shape and those ‘in the know’ will give it more than a second glance. Plus, it is yellow, which is more obvious on the road than the silver 360. The 360 attracted more attention from kids, where the modern shapes are more what they want to see, but enthusiasts definitely watch you go by”.
The drive through the sheets of Manchester comes to an end all too quickly, but the added perk that we stop at a friend’s house to admire Lee’s other Lamborghini (the epic Gallardo), before departing back home. It has been quite an exclusive, if not entirely comfortable, ride: The extremely rare Lamborghini Urraco is an experience that few car enthusiasts will have ever enjoyed.
There is something magnificent about old cars that is simply lost in the new-world of automotive. The active-maintenance ethos, the expectation of breakdown, the surprise and delight of not breaking down and perhaps more importantly in the speed obsessed world that we live in, the sheer joy of cruising in such a car at low speeds. At 30mph the sensory excitement of something which suggests significantly more. The smell of petrol, the heat being dissipated from the engine onto your arm as you sit in the cabin, the noise of the engine, popping, coughing and spitting along with raucous intent as you drive along at 30mph. Perhaps now, more than ever before, these old cars actually make sense as a weekend experience, on roads without traffic.
Great fun. I’ll be back again in the future, you can count on that.
Lamborghini came to being in the early 1960’s, after the owner reportedly had a disagreement with Ferrari, following a fault on his own Ferrari 250GT. Wanting to produce a grand tourer to compete with his rivals, Ferrucio Lamborghini launched with the now legendary Muira supercar. Lamborghini grew in popularity and fame and in 1971, the Countach concept was born. And this is how our story begins, with eight of our favourite Lamborghini’s since the Countach, right up to the latest Aventador.
Our meet point for the photo-shoot is in a hotel car park and as photographer Dom and I arrive, the party is already in full swing with all but the Murcielago in attendance. Scanning the array of cars, you can’t help but grin when you see any Lambo. Those mad shapes, curves and creases which look like they serve no other purpose than being shouty and ‘because we can’. Even the Aventador, with all of its mod-con’s and legislative safety design features still looks as angular and bonkers as its older brethren. They all look stunning and all are pretty mad colours, save for the Countach which is a reassuringly calm blue. Until the engine is fired up and in doing so, wakes all of the gods – but more on that later.
Will arrives just a few minutes after us in the Murcielago. We hear him coming, as does the rest of Yorkshire. Brief “hello’s” over with and it’s time to head to our shoot location, over at Revolution Specialists in Brighouse, just a few minutes drive away.
We set off in convoy – beaming from ear-to-ear and a long line of brightly coloured Lamborghini’s snake their way down the road to our destination. Heads are craning everywhere we go as this colourfully loud spectacle passes through the otherwise sleepy town.
Steve is in the Gallardo Superlegerra and he has reverted back into a 10-year old child. “This is brilliant!” he says excitedly, as we arrive at the shoot location. He points back at the main road; “Driving down that dual carriageway, I had Lamborghini’s in front of me and even more in my rear view mirror. It’s like a big kids dream come true!” There was a moment I had wondered if he’d forgotten that he actually owns one himself and is indeed driving it today, but not wanting to curb the immense enthusiasm we go along with it as he springs step-forward to look at the cars again and chat to the owners. These Lamborghini owners are a mad bunch.
It’s time for some photos. Photographer Dom loves the Countach, he’s never photographed one before and so job one begins with the ultimate poster pin-up. The car you see here might actually have been a poster pin-up too; it was the one used by the press in several motoring magazines and, as was customary in those days, had been fettled with slightly to make the car even more appealing. To that end, this car has straight-through exhaust pipes and makes one hell of a noise!! It is also the stereotypical 80’s supercar – a real handful to maneuver and you can never be quite sure if the Countach is in the right mood to start or not. I collar owner Tim and advise him it is time for some photographs. “OK, what’s the plan, it needs to be one maneuver.” he advises. Dom provides the logistics and Tim heads back to the car.
The sprightly conversation being held by the other owners dissipates to a silence as Tim climbs into the Countach, ready to fire it up. The anticipation in the air is almost palpable as we all stand, motionless waiting for it to start. The key is turned and the ignition turns over. It turns over a bit more. And then a lot more with no sign of igniting the 5-litre V6 engine. The anticipation turns to prayer. “Please don’t let the iconic depiction of the ultimate Supercar fail to start”.
Tim looks up with a knowing nod that suggests “It is ok, this is normal”. A couple more rotations of ignition and the engine awakes from its slumber with an almost deafening roar! It’s hard to describe in words just how extremely loud this Countach is, but I can’t imagine it would be a great ambassador for neighbour relations. It’s extraordinary and once again those smiles on all faces return. It’s a car that was well deserved to be the poster on every petrol-head child’s wall in the 80’s.
The Diablo followed the Countach production, it launched in 1990 and was originally designed by Marcello Gandini, who had also designed the Countach.
However, under the now Chrysler ownership his design was softened considerably, much to the dissatisfaction of Gandini who ultimately went on to produce a more faithful version of his original design under his own brand a few years later (called the Cizeta-Moroder V16T).
But that’s not to say that the years haven’t been kind to the Diablo. Quite the opposite – it looks superb, blending retro with modern exceptionally well. It’s almost a dateless design and rapidly becoming a classic.
“Diablo” is, following tradition, named after a fighting bull from the 19th Century. In terms of power, the original Diablo came with the 5.7 litre engine developing 492bhp and a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds. The top speed is 202mph which went pleasantly over the original design brief of 196mph.
The original Diablo was built until 1998 along with several other special edition models and in 1995, the SV model was launched alongside it, bringing a return to the Super Veloce title previously seen on the Miura.
It has an adjustable rear spoiler and is based on a 2WD version of the Diablo with added power taking it to 510bhp. Tony owns this everso-mental Diablo SV (that’s the bright yellow one with “SV” written on the side, in case you were wondering).
The car sits lower than the standard Diablo (which is already very low) to the point where its passage to our makeshift photo studio today is almost foiled by a dropped kerb.
With a few back-and-forth attempts we find an angle that suits the car and owner Tony creeps over with millimetres of ground clearance to spare.
Tony loves this car, he’s had a few sports and supercars in the past, but nothing quite as extreme as this one. Does it get a lot of attention? “Yes, it does”, he laughs, “but that is what you expect when you buy something like this”.
Lamborghini has had several owners in the past and following Chrysler it changed hands again and Audi ultimately bought the company in 1998 and gave the Diablo a facelift and most notably dropped the pop-up headlights of the previous model.
The engine was upgraded to 6 litres and 529bhp and a carbon fibre centre console was fitted amongst other German niceties.
Tim’s black Diablo 6.0 is a 2001 model and is complete with these additional mod-cons. He bought this car recently to replace his Ferrari 456 as he wanted something more special for a weekend car.
“The Lamborghini was a poster on my wall as a child” he says (there’s a theme building here!) so the Diablo is a dream fulfilled.
The car you see here is one of the last Diablo’s to be built, being replaced the same year by the Murciélago.
The Murciélago, which we will come on to shortly, shared the same sales era as it’s baby sibling and another product of the Audi ownership years – the Gallardo.
Production started in 2003 with a simple, yet potentially conflicting remit; to be a true sports car worthy of the Lamborghini name, whilst also being comfortable enough to allow it to be driven on a daily basis. The result was a Lamborghini of relatively compact demeanor, but with strong performance that would allow a driver to use it on either a track, or on long distance journeys.
The mid-engine layout provides a 42/58 weight distribution, with short body overhangs, independent double wishbone suspension system and permanent all-wheel drive.
The Gallardo has been a hugely successful model for Lamborghini, with more than 10,000 sold to date. Throughout its lifespan we have seen many iterations of the Gallardo, which started with the standard model in 2003 for the 2004 model year. Steve owns such a vehicle with the 5 litre manual engine, producing 492bhp, reaching 60mph from standstill in 4.2 seconds and top speed of 192mph. Not too shabby for the ‘baby’ of the Lamborghini family!
For Steve, this purchase was the realisation of a long held dream. “I’ve owned several Porsche’s and a raft of other great cars over the years”, he says “but in 2009 I finally had the opportunity to tick the ‘Lamborghini’ box – and I’m very glad I did!”
“The Lamborghini brand seems to bring out the best in people from the very young to the very old, 99.9% of reaction that I’ve experienced has been very positive. I spent literally years hoping that each time I went to an event or out for a drive that I would see a Lambo and very rarely did. Now and for almost 3 years all I need to do is to open my garage door and there it is! That gives me so much satisfaction.”
“All that remains now is to do the European road trip and to take the car back to Sant ‘Agata. I visited back in 2001 for the Murcielago launch and have also hoped to return one day in my own car”.
In 2005, Lamborghini launched the Gallardo SE with a limited production of 250 cars. The SE comes in two-tone colouring, the example here today [photo on the previous page] brought along by Elliot is black and yellow. For the exterior, the black roof colouring extends to the rear deck and spoiler, with the interior being a luxury blend of the same colours. The leather stitching, centre console, instrument covers, even the doors and floormats match the exterior of the bodywork and really brighten up the Gallardo’s interior.
The SE Model also comes with extra toys as standard including a reversing camera and sat-nav.
The final model in our Gallardo photo line-up is the latest, and most extreme derivative to date – the LP-570 Superleggera. A lightened, more powerful version coupled with lashings of carbon-fibre give the “SL” 70bhp more than the original Gallardo and it will get from 0-120mph a staggering 5 seconds quicker than its older sibling. Top speed is more than 200mph.
Steve (a different Steve!) has brought the SL today, having previously owned the original Gallardo spider. That model was in black but he wanted something a little more outlandish this time around, something that provided a more hard-core driving experience to boot. I think we can say with confidence that the SL certainly achieves that remit!
Like all of the owners here today, Steve finds that people warm to the eccentricity of the Lamborghini brand; “I like the fact that people seem to really like Lambo’s and always come over and ask questions” he says. “You also get let out into traffic and get loads of thumbs up when you are driving it. Oh, and you are always asked to rev it!” he laughs.
Moving on to the modern day giant of Lamborghini; the Murciélago is big in more ways than one. The powerhouse of its time, launched more than 10 years ago (has it really been that long?) this original Murciélago has a 6.2 V12 engine, developing 572bhp.
This is Will’s toy, as subtly described on his registration number. He’s owned the car for four years so far with no immediate plans to change – although could be tempted by a convertible version!
The car follows the Lamborghini tradition and is named after a famous bull. This particular bull reportedly survived 28 sword wounds, and the matador chose to spare its life and gave the bull to a local breeder. The lineage of this bull is still around today.
The Murciélago car was produced until 2009, and spawned a number of special editions – and increased its engine and power output over time to 6.5 litres and 661bhp respectively. The Murci’ also formed the basis for the limited edition Reventon – an extreme (and extremely expensive) edition of an already bonkers car!
Fast-fact for you – the fastest ever Lamborghini was actually a derivative of the Murciélago – a Le Mans edition dubbed the R-GT with a reported top speed of 370 km/h!
But even the road-going version of the Murciélago does everything to excess. From Will’s custom wheels, to the extreme sound, the low-wide stance and the bright yellow paintwork; it is all unmistakably Lamborghini!
And of course, being the V12 Lamborghini it has the trademark scissor opening doors – themselves made all the more dramatic when open as the car itself stands less than four-feet tall!
And now we present the latest and greatest from the Lamborghini stables – the mighty Aventador!
In appearance, he Diablo was a more ‘rounded’ representation of the Countach, with the Murciélago being rounder still. The Aventador looks like it has gone back to the days of the Countach, with angles and creases all over the place. You could imagine that the prototype was fashioned from rocks and then honed with chisels into a shape that resembled a car!
Yet despite the multitude of angles, the car still looks very sleek – it certainly makes a dramatic statement and even more-so on the road with a rear spoiler that adjusts to three different angles depending on your speed. A real work of art, this car.
In terms of performance, the Aventador is a large step beyond anything that has come before it with 690bhp. That’s good for a zero to sixty time of just 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 217mph.
This bright orange version is owned by John and had his order in place for more than a year. He was one of the first to put the deposit down and it has been a long wait!
“I have been offered substantially more than list price to sell it on”, John admits. “But there is no chance of selling yet, it has been well worth the wait!”
All Lamborghini’s are mad, it would seem. It’s a company with a sense of humour. A company that goes out of its way to always make sure they are nothing like anything else out there.
And surely that is their alluring attraction – they aren’t making a fashion statement, they are making a ‘fun’ statement and forget what everyone else thinks. Not that you need to though, because the amount of heads turning and smiles created whilst doing this photo-shoot it is pretty clear that just about everyone loves a Lamborghini.
Our sincere thanks go to Revolution Porsche Specialists, for allowing us to do the photo-shoot at their premises.
I knew when Mike was close by. Everyone knew. That unmistakable rasp of a Ferrari engine overshadowed and broke the otherwise calm, morning air. Living on a typical UK built-up housing estate, Mike was driving in a quiet and considered manner. Well, as quiet as he could be, he was keeping the revs low but the rumble of the V8 could still be clearly heard from a hundred yards away.
A Ferrari is coming to my house. It’s exciting isn’t it. Even as a 30-something grown-up family guy, a Ferrari coming to my house still makes me feel like that teenager with the poster on his wall. It would have been a dream-come-true in those days but twenty years on, better late than never!
With a bit more hard work and effort, I will hopefully be a position to buy one of these dream cars at some time in the future, but there is a caveat – and hopefully one that Mike will be dispelling today. The mission to fulfil is one of a ‘garage test’ and the size of my garage dictates this is certainly to be a mission.
A Ferrari of some description has been on my ‘to-do’ list now for years, but each time – largely influenced by life factors – I keep opting for Porsches. My stable currently keeps a 911 (997.1) cabriolet warm at night, but today the 360 will temporarily occupy the space ordinarily reserved for the German marque.
But before we try the prancing horse in my otherwise very tight new-build type single garage, we are going for a drive. As Mike arrives and pulls onto my driveway, it takes considerable effort to retain the limited amounts of cool that I possess and curb a natural instinct to jump up and down, clapping my hands with glee. The gloomy clouds of the morning had parted and now a bright ray of sunshine permeated the sky. Mikes 360 is a convertible ‘Spider’ and perfect for a day like this.
After a short break upon arrival to give Mike the opportunity to stretch his legs and rehydrate – and for me to make sure that everyone local knows I’ve got a Ferrari on my driveway today – we head off to a lightly used industrial estate nearby. But not before being papp’d by the neighbours youngest.
At the far end of this lightly used industrial road, we swap seats and I’m the one in control. This isn’t a track drive. It’s a real world drive and people will see me. People will probably judge me too. It’s the experience you just can’t get elsewhere and this type of attention would undoubtedly form part of any Ferrari ownership experience (for better, or for worse).
Mike gives some instruction on how to move the seat and steering column (I’m very surprised to find my 6’4″ frame can find a very comfortable position) and usage of the F1 paddle shift system. This particular car also has an F430 exhaust system with the noise inhibiters removed. It’s a real screamer, even at low revs.
The seats hug nice and tight and all of the important dials are easily readable, less so the speedo. I love how in a Ferrari it is almost disregarded with indifference – anything below 40mph is just a bit-part at the bottom of the instrument cluster. Conversely the rev-counter shouts at you with large fonts and can be understood with a mere glance.
A fast machine this may be, but the level of noise from that exhaust, combined with the V8 power plant, can make this a fun car even at very low speeds. During town driving, this combination makes it sound like you are pressing on, even when you are within the laws of the land. That’s not always a good thing.
“Someone once tried to hit my car with a newspaper!” Mike tells me. “I’m just glad it wasn’t anything more substantial”. Exuberate noise doesn’t do him any favours for neighbour relations either. “A few weeks ago, I was going for an early morning drive. You are supposed to leave these cars running for a few minutes so the gearbox warms up. Whilst I was waiting a somewhat tired and exasperated neighbour came over in a dressing gown pleading ‘Every Sunday! Every Sunday, Mike. Why??’ That claim is an exaggeration though as the 360 isn’t used that much, but it certainly isn’t a car you buy to keep the peace.”
As we set off – gingerly a first, after all I’m in someone else’s pride and joy, I get a little more confident with the controls, the feel of the steering and the travel on the accelerator and brake pedals. It all feels good. Very good, like a giant go-kart.
Reaction from passers-by seems to be one of admiration from petrol heads, and indifference from everyone else. Onlookers who care about such things stop in their tracks and watch the car go by. “If its younger kids who are pointing at the car, I’ll sometimes blip the throttle for them,” Mike informs. “I think back to when I was that age and if an owner would have done that for me, it would have made my day”. I didn’t experience any negative gestures or comments.
As we arrive at the supermarket (Mike has instructions to bring back a disposable BBQ for an impromptu party that night), a young petrol head comes over as we lock up the car. The expression on his face is one of amazement, excitement and delight. “Wooooooaaaaahhh”, is about all he can muster. His expression tells you all you need to know. “Ca…can I take a picture of your car please?” he says, eyes transfixed on the 360. Of course the answer is yes and Mike is accommodating, showing him around the car. “So, do you like it?” Mike asks. “Like it? I want to own it!” the lad replies. Me too, I guess we never really grow up.
Back in the car and armed with a BBQ in the boot we head back to the house to see if it will fit in garage. A Ferrari is such an event to drive. The feel of the car will be familiar to anyone who has owned a mid-engined car, just a lot bigger, a lot wider and a lot noiser. Oh the noise. The noise. It’s that instant switch at 3,000 rpm when the exhaust valves open and the engine just explodes its soundtrack through those fat tailpipes! It is a continual giggle fest and something I reflected on after fifteen minutes of driving that I hadn’t actually stopped smiling the entire time – and we hadn’t really pressed on other than a couple of test runs on a quiet speed-restricted road – real lough out loud moments those.
When you do firmly commit the loud pedal, this car is just sublime. The noise, the howl, is by far the most satisfying element, closely followed by the wonderfully linear acceleration and – on this dry day at least – confident handling. Even the gear change on the F1 is great. My reference is a previously loaned PDK ‘box from Porsche which is probably the most efficient automatic gearbox ever designed. The shift on the Porsche is immediate, whereas the F1 on this 360 feels more like a manual. There is a momentary delay where you can imagine the auto gearbox engaging the clutch and changing gear, and the result just makes it feels more interactive.
The feeling of driving a Ferrari on the road is totally different to that on track – it makes you feel like a big kid. It is everything that I hoped it would be all those years ago looking at the mad angles and shapes of the poster Ferrari’s and wondering then what they are like to drive and whether I would ever see one in the metal.
Someone once described his Ferrari to me as “silly”. A silly car that always makes you smile because it serves no purpose other than fun. It is totally impractical, expensive, a noise nuisance and at the same time utterly amazing. That same person also told me he always leaves his Ferrari at work, so that after a bad day at the office, he can opt for a drive home in the Ferrari and in doing so, will always arrive home happy.
Back at my house, it’s time to see whether the dream could ever be a reality. The 911 is demoted from the garage and we tentatively coast the 360 into position to see if it will fit. Money matters aside, this will determine whether or not a Ferrari could ever purchased in the future. Mike drives the car in, folding the mirrors as the 360 approaches the doorway. To my surprise – and delight – the car fits without any real problems. It’s a mordern, and typically small, garage and yet the ultra wide 360 can be stored in there without issue – but only if it is a convertible! The downside is that the width of the garage is just too narrow to open the door wide enough to be able to get out, but with a convertible the exit is to simply climb over those low doors and raise the roof once you are out of the car.
So, the Coupe is a reluctant ‘no’, but the spider is a firm ‘yes!’ The downside of the spider means more saving is required as the spiders come at a premium. However, I love the light blue coloured 360’s and the resale market seems to hate them so maybe that will even things out on price. As much as I love red coupes, I couldn’t own a red convertible because I’m not an Italian, twenty-something playboy singleton with a chiselled jaw and rock hard man-muscles. But a blue spider might make me look less of an arse. Hopefully.
For now though, I’ve got the Porsche and the more I drive it, the more I love it. But would I change the 911 for one? The 911 looks good, it drives great, it is desirable, relatively good value and can transport the family with ease. My daughter (who has just turned three) loves going out (and playing in!) my “Porsch-a!” and it’s getting a lot of use as our sunny-day car, as well as for the spirited solo-drives should the mood take once fancy. It’s a great all round sports car.
By comparison, the 360 is bonkers. It’s a slightly unhinged, impractical, ridiculously loud, desirable machine that makes people stop and stare.
The quote the old adage, a Porsche is a wife – everything you want and need to be content with life. The Ferrari is the mistress and, as far as cars are concerned, I think I want both.
Time to get a second job…
Photos by Dom Fisher (dfishpix) and used with permission.
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.
Today was a particularly good day. I had been asked by the Supercar Driver team if I’d come along to help document the experience of some of the latest and greatest cars on sale.
This was to form part of a £1million pound “lottery winning feature”, whereby a ticket would be purchased that weekend and should it hit the jackpot, then all of the cars featured would be bought for the use of all Supercar Driver members.
A Neat idea and particularly good fun as it meant I got to passenger in all the cars, starting with the Mercedes SLS. A flagship car for the German manufacturer, it features a long nose and decidedly small cabin. Particularly uncomfortable for me at 6’4″, it just wasn’t big enough and I couldn’t get comfy. But that 6.2 litre engine sounded sublime!
The destination today was the middle of the peak district in the north of England, as we ascended higher and higher into the mountains the temperature got particularly cold as we got closer and closer to eh clouds above – which in turn generated a lovely misty backdrop for the photoshoot.
The blue Ferrari 458 with us was one of the first customer cars delivered in the UK. The owner, a Ferrari fanatic had just traded in his blue 430 Scuderia, leaving the 458 with the duty of bed buddy to an (also blue) Ferrari 308! I asked his opinion of the new Ferrari “It’s very nice”, he said “But not as silly as the Scuderia. My wife commented that she likes it as she can do her knitting in the passenger seat!” Perhaps not the response he was looking for as a die-hard Ferrari fan, but he loved the noise and the power.
Swapping cars later into the Aston Martin V12 Vantage, my immediate impression is one of quality. The Vantage is, in my opinion, one of the all-time great car designs. The interior is fantastic too. A swooping design which looks ‘just right’ in every sense, ensuring the balance between digital and analogue is perfectly aligned. No silly ‘i-drive’ systems here, just buttons and gears and a steering wheel. And lots of leather. Noise is a familiar trait amongst these cars and the V12 Vantage is no different. As we set off from standstill, the owner put his foot down and with the opening of the taps came the deafening sound from that V12. You can’t help but smile. Neither could the owner “I had a V8 Vantage before this and think the little Astons are just superb. The V12 is faster and the noise really adds to the experience”. It certainly does.
We arrive at the top of another mountain and use the opportunity to take some photos. On the way back down, I jump into the Porsche GT2 RS with owner Rob. As a Porsche owner myself I’m already familiar with these cars in a generic sense, but the GT2RS is something else. The sound deadening is much less and with its track focussed interior, the engine sounds like its sat right behind your ears. As a result, this car sounds really mechanical – you can hear all the spats, whirs and turns of the engine as it accelerates at rapid pace down the hills and through the twisties. The noise is raw, intoxicating and the acceleration keeps you pinned to your seat. In some respects it is like a rally car; a great big go-cart. And an extremely rare one at that, just 500 examples were made with this car being number 238.
A 911 Turbo also joined us for the shoot, in case the GT2RS was unavailable. Predictably fast, but outshone on this day – just – by the track focussed GT2RS!
On the way home, I jumped into the final car here, the raging Lambo’ bull. An LP560, this was loud! It really looked the part and, as we drove home through the sleepy towns at around 3.30pm, kids leaving school pointed and shouted as we drove past. Adam, who was driving, delighted them with a press on the accelerator, allowing the 5.2 v10 to resonate off the buildings – much to the delight of the young petrol heads!
The Lamborghini seems to attract carnal attention too. Whilst filling up at a Petrol station, a young lady, who was returning to her car spotted the bright white Italian supercar and honed in on the owner with a rather obvious advance starting with “What a beautiful car…” After a little inescapable small talk whilst Adam – a married-man-to-be – uncomfortably waited for the tank to fill, he decided to cut the conversation declaring “sorry, but the car isn’t mine”, and hurried off into the shop to pay for the fuel.
He arrived back momentarily, sat back in the car with his sunglasses on, smiled and started the engine.
A great day indeed.