Ford Parts in a Ferrari?
My rear window heater switch needs to be refurbished. As you can see the chrome is peeling off the bezel. This switch is a bit of an anomaly. Only the US models had them initially and they don’t match any of the other switch gear in the car. It almost looks like someone added afterwards like a bad stereo. However, all the US 308s I have seen have the same switch so it must have come from the Factory. I don’t think it appears on any Ferrari parts diagram either. This all did not bode well for finding a replacement.
In order to find a replacement, I needed to find what other cars this switch was fitted to. It’s rare to a find a non-engine part on a Ferrari that is 100% unique to the vehicle. These cars were built in small numbers and Ferrari had to go to other companies for many ancillary parts, including switchgear. The first port of call for Ferrari was normally parent company Fiat. Strangely most switches in the 308 are not from Fiat, but from Lucas in the UK. Almost all British cars from the 1960s and 1970s use these switches. Since these are electrical parts made in Britain in the 70s, they go wrong, a lot. There are plenty of replacements available as every owner of a classic Jaguar, Austin Healy or a Shelby Cobra has to need to replace these switches on a fairly regular basis. But this switch did not look like a Lucas switch at all.
I can only imagine how bad the quality of Fiat switches of the time was for Ferrari to go shopping at Lucas!
Once the center console was out of the car I could remove the switch. Underneath it had a Ford logo on it! No wonder I had never seen one of these switches on any Italian car – they were only fitted to European Mk 1 Ford Escorts and Capris. When was the last time you saw a Mk 1 Escort? I have not seen a Mk1 Escort since I was at high school in in England in the mid Eighties and had not seen a Capri since I was 7.
I had found an ancient Ford part that was now probably rarer than any classic Ferrari part!
An Internet search did not find any suppliers of these switches but I did find a chap named Bogdan in Poland that had a business restoring them. I emailed him asking if he could restore my switch. Now, I did not say which car it was from, oh no, I have made that mistake before. Is it strange how a part is one price when the seller think it is a Fiat part but suddenly gets more expensive when the seller knows it is going to be fitted to a Ferrari. I can only assume the same would be true for a Ford part.
I sent him a photo of my switch just to confirm it was a Ford switch (which of course I knew). The good news was that it was a Ford switch like the ones he restores. The bad news was that he could not restore this one.
Bogdan told me my switch was one of a small run produced by Ford in Germany using ABS with real chrome applied using a process that Bogdan could not reproduce. A small run huh? I suspected Bogdan was 100% correct because although he did not know where the switch was from, he could tell from a photo that it was not a regular Ford switch. My guess is that the switch was produced in a small (and probably single) run by Ford of Europe specifically for Ferrari. The switch looks identical to the one fitted to Ford Escorts and Capris of the day but is made from different materials.
Bogdan offered to supply me a switch that he had previously restored as an almost identical replacement. When the switched arrived there were indeed some subtle differences. The chrome was not quite as bright and the lens was a slightly different shade of orange but I knew it was as close as I was going to get without spending a lot more time, effort and money.