Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

My 308 has both Jekyll and Hyde characters. I say my 308, because I suspect all 308s drive a little differently. Being hand-built cars they will have had some natural variance when built which has since been exacerbated over 40 years of variable quality maintenance. For the first 15 minutes of a drive my 308 is a nervous car that does not feel cohesive at all. This is not a car you can jump in and drive hard straightaway.

Fresh from the garage? Say hello to Mr Hyde

Partly this is simply because the car is from from an earlier, 100% mechanical age. Weber carburetors rather than fuel injection means there is no automatic adjustment to air temperature and pressure. When cold their response is dulled and the throttle lumpy. The steering is heavy and uncommunicative, feeling even a little disjointed from the rest of the car. The brakes are hard, one dimensional and worryingly ineffective. The clutch is heavy and the gear change baulky. The suspension is on its game from the get-go but it feels a little like a world class conductor in charge of a dysfunctional school orchestra. Drive my Ferrari 308 in its Mr Hide guise and you will wonder if there is something wrong with the car.

Then, as the car warms up (and the driver gets used to the car again), something wonderful happens. The carburetors clear their throats and the throttle response becomes razor sharp. The lightest change of pressure on the throttle pedal changes the glorious engine note immediately. The steering lightens a little and feels connected again. It starts to communicate on the road surface and the available grip. The brake pads begin to work, happily trail braking into bends working cohesively with the suspension, throttle and steering to position the car. For the back road I am on, the car stays in 3rd gear for all but the tightest turns. After all, the 7800 rpm redline in 3rd equates to 85 mph in the 308.

Ferrari 308 at breakfast

After a 60 mile run… Arrivaderci Mr Hyde. Ciao Dr Jekyll

It sounds like a cliché but after a while the 308 really starts to feel like an extension of the driver. Press on with intensity and you feel like you become one with the car which is quite and incredible feeling. Welcome back Dr Jekyll.

Disclaimer: 308restoration.com describes the restoration work I perform on my car and only my car. I am not a professional mechanic. The website content is presented for entertainment purposes only and should not by seen as any kind of advice, information, instruction or guidance for working on any other car. The opinions stated here are my own and no-one else’s.

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