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Ferrari 308/328 Company History

Published: 3rd Nov 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ferrari 308/328
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Peter Vaughan

Almost a dozen years ago, I was about to fulfil a life’s ambition, one that I had almost given up on. In the late 1980s, I remember my sister asking me just what I wanted out of life. The answer was simple, a Ferrari! At that stage I had neither a house nor a partner and the prancing horse dream seemed pie in the sky, with prices spiralling out of control during those Thatcher boom years.

Fast forward to the mid-Noughties and a 328 – which, as a delivery mileage used car, had commanded well over £100k – could be found in good, but not concours, condition for under £30k.

A Mondial – even a nice one – was more like £15,000. And, so began the hunt for my first Ferrari (I’d got the house and wife by now!).

I knew what I wanted – a non-red 308 GTS, but not the low-powered injected version built before they got four valves per cylinder. Or did I? A Mondial t Cabriolet looked tempting but these were still the wrong side of 30-grand and an engine-out cambelt replacement meant more expensive servicing. An earlier Mondial 3.2 Coupé seemed superb value, especially after a drive in a lovely Rosso example at Kent High Performance, but the looks of the 308/328 were more alluring.

I had thought that a 328 was quite out of reach but the combination of most 308s looking a bit tatty and 328 values softening seemed to come together at the right time. The only problem was that all but one of the eight examples I viewed was red and the exception was a particularly vivid yellow with a rather battered front wing.

The ‘all 328s are red’ phenomenon was explained to me at Rardley Motors as the result of these cars being quickly sold on for a profit when new; red (with a Crema interior) was easiest to sell.

So, I settled for the classic colour scheme, quickly realised that 328s were generally in far better condition than (rusty) 308s, and it wasn’t long before I found the right car at the right price at a dealer just off the M3 motorway.

To say that I loved that car would be a massive understatement; nothing I’ve ever driven – before or since – put such a smile on my face. I took it to Brittany, to the Italian Lakes and, then, France again. On this last trip the weather was awful and it soon transpired that the car wasn’t entirely happy, either. When we returned, the 328 was occasionally running very hot and I was getting worried. I was also unsure where to take it, having had a bad experience with a well-known specialist who kept the car an age, charged a fortune and did very little. My local Alfa mechanic, who I had known for years agreed to have a look but, when he feared a head gasket issue, he wanted to go no further. He did, however, know – through racing connections – of a certain John Pogson, who he said he could definitely recommend for the job. So it was that I started using Italia Autosport, near Huddersfield, not just for matters Ferrari but issues with my other classics that couldn’t be solved more locally. The 328 left home on an AA truck and when it returned I was about £6k poorer. Ouch.

Another call to the AA, another ride on a truck, and another ominous phone call. Ferrari in Italy had quoted an absolutely obscene price for a new ABS unit, then said they weren’t available anyway! Fortunately, the guys at Italia are resourceful and the unit was rebuilt by a local engineering firm.

After that, the 328 was a joy (thank god!). I took it ‘home’ to Maranello along with eight other Ferraris from the Anglia section of the Club. That was the trip of a lifetime and I don’t think anything I do in any car will ever match it. I just wish that I had fitted the sports exhaust before, rather than after the trip – but that was a financial decision.

Talking of money, the 328 usually cost me about £2k a year to maintain and insurance was surprisingly reasonable through the Owners’ Club. When I sold it after seven years and nearly got my money back I thought I’d done well.

Of course, actually, I’d made one of the worst decisions of my life but who foresaw the classic car boom? Most specialists were quite sniffy about 328s back in 2012, but Forza 288 in the New Forest was very happy to take it in partexchange against a 412 GT.

By now I’d decided that I couldn’t possibly be Ferrari-less but my prancing horse needed more seats as I had a growing family. I have now been the very proud owner of my ex-Maranello demonstrator, ex-Chris Evans black 412 for nearly five years. Italia Autosport said it would cost me 10 per cent more to run (ex-fuel) than the 328, but I think that, maybe, they were being pessimistic. I’ve got to find £2500 for a new exhaust next spring but fuel economy is nothing like as bad as most ill-informed journos would have you believe – 18 is a very realistic figure. Most of the time.

Better still, the 412 is a more discreet, more practical and usable Ferrari (we even got a wheelchair in the boot when my wife broke her ankle) and – as a RHD manual – it is incredibly rare (one of 24 made). That exclusivity explains why one dealer is currently asking £90k for one, but where the 328s desirability was as obvious as a supermodel’s, the 412’s appeal grows with every year. I never, ever thought I’d be able to own a V12 Ferrari but now I wonder if I could ever part with mine.

Tom Scanlan

In 1969, Road & Track called the 365 GT 2+2 ‘the Queen Mother of Ferraris’. In 1984, when I was about to buy one, that did not put me off.

The car was in England; I was on a posting to Hong Kong. I didn’t care, I bought it based on trusting the owner’s honest description and a couple of photos he sent me.

Some £10,500 later, the car was delivered to my dad’s house in south London and, with a loud roar, as my non-driving, non-car-owning father described it, was driven into his empty garage.

Two months later, back in the UK. on leave, I could not wait to start it up and go for a drive.

The 365 GT 2+2 was a long car, 16 feet and four inches from bumper to bumper which even by today’s standards is large. Heavy, too, at around two tons. Multiply 365 (the swept volume of each cylinder) by twelve and you get the capacity of the single overhead camshaft 4.4-litre V12 engine. Fed by three Weber carburettors, the claimed power was 368bhp and acceleration from zero to 60mph was 7.2 seconds which is hardly pedestrian in 2017. I was soon to head off on a welcome holiday in Germany – would I be able to get anywhere near the claimed top speed of 152mph? In my dreams! I would be taking my wife and three young kids along…
First drive, then: ignition on, switch on the electric fuel pump (auxiliary to the mechanical pump), depress the pedal three times, turn the key, musical starter cranking sound and then, oh my gosh, that noise!

Carefully heading out into the London streets, noting the power-assisted steering, not exactly finger-tip light, but handy enough in a big car with fat tyres, I soon learnt that a Ferrari was not necessarily some temperamental racehorse, but a perfectly easy-mannered machine happily waiting for the right moment to perform.

As I went on that first drive, I made sure to get the feel of the five-speed gearbox, position the mirrors, be able to find the indicators, electric window controls, all the usual things you need to do in your ‘new’ car.

Yes, well that didn’t take long and I soon got to a road where I knew I could really give it some.
Oh wow!

There can be few better noises than a Ferrari V12 really wound up, especially if you’re the one inside it, even if only for a couple of seconds in a London postal area.

The Ferrari was brilliant transport for four years whenever I could get back to the UK on leave. The highlight was the drive to friends living the other side of Munich, taking in the Oldtimer meeting at the famous Nurburgring circuit on the way back. Yes, there is something special in parking your classic Ferrari alongside all sorts of other wonderful old cars at the ’Ring.

Germany offered plenty of opportunity to give the Ferrari its head. Joining one Autobahn from another meant you could really wind up the prancing horses in third gear and get that mad, intoxicating howl as you red-lined it at 6600rpm, more than 90mph, then up into fourth, at which point my wife would tell me, not too politely, to take it easy!

In four fabulous years and about four thousand miles, the Ferrari behaved impeccably. Well almost.

The electric fuel pump failed in Germany but it was replaced overnight. The window motor failed, too, but there was a winding key supplied: handy, yes, except that it took about a hundred turns to get the window up or down; and I had the clutch replaced at Maranello Concessionaires – not exactly cheap as you can imagine…

I had owned the car for four years before selling it for £15,500 and that covered every penny I had spent on fuel, insurance, the clutch, the fuel pump.

Then Enzo Ferrari sadly died and within a year, all V12-engines Ferraris became THE speculation of the 1980s and even 365 GT 2+2s were on sale for at least £120,000… They’re up to three times that now.
C’est la vie!

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