A quick run

Driving this car just makes me happy… and I don’t think it is just the fumes.

Ferrari 308 GTB
Driving this makes me happy

It’s partly the sound. With a free-breathing airbox, the Maranello orchestra has gained a whole new section. On throttle, I now have a totally over-the-top induction roar providing the harmony to the ANSA exhaust melody burbling away like the V8 lovechild of American and Italian engine notes. Off throttle, the pops and bangs of the Webers provide the staccato percussion for the rest of this symphony.

Ferrari 308 cockpit
A good place to be

It’s partly the feedback. The steering is always communicating what the front-end is doing… how loaded are the tyres? Is the grip starting to lessen? What is the state of the road? And then there is a back-end that seems directly linked to the driver’s seat. I have never driven another car with more seat of the pants information available. I tell myself it is the Niki Lauda effect given that he helped develop the car and always reminds me of some dialog from Ron Howard’s Rush:

[Having left a party hosted by Clay Regazzoni’s friends, Niki Lauda hitches a ride with Marlene Knaus]

Niki Lauda: Your fan belt is loose.

Marlene Knaus: My what?

Lauda: And when you brake your foot goes all the way down, which means there’s air in the system.

Knaus: Anything else?

Lauda: No… Apart from the rear brakes are worn out, the front right tire’s a bit soft, which explains why you’re weaving so much.

Knaus: How can you tell?

Lauda: My ass.

Knaus: Sorry?

Lauda: God gave me an okay mind, but a really good ass, which can feel everything in a car.

Place ass here

It’s partly the pedal placement. I am not a great driver by any stretch of the imagination… I’m slow (I scare easily). I normally brake too early for bends (blame an incident in a Porsche for that!). I am usually terrified that I’m in imminent danger of a tank-slapper (blame an incident with a TVR for that!) and on track, I have always had a problem thinking beyond the current corner I’m in. 

But in the 308, I am a heel-toeing god! 

The pedals come readily to foot… yes… even as far over to the right as they are. Far enough to be shared with the passenger. Every downshift is accompanied by the perfect blip. The pedal spacing allows me to lazily roll the outside edge of the right foot onto the throttle as I’m slowing down the car. Every blip makes me smile. Every blip makes you think you’re Jacky, Niki, Clay or Gilles. This reverie is part of a general connection to the past the car provides. To a time where computers did not compute optimal designs. Instead, artisans refined and re-iterated small step changes on the cars that had gone before building a tracible lineage from one model to the next.

Finally, this car make me happy because it makes other people happy. It does not matter if it is a middle-aged, bearded Harley biker holding up a thumb, a teenage kid driving his Mom’s Altima giving me the shaka sign out the window, or a small child running out of his house in a towel after his bath to see me driving past, a 308 always seems to brighten people’s days.

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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 be 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.

3 Responses

  1. Tom J says:

    Just an Awesome writeup! You captured all our hearts in this . Bravo.

  2. Brad says:

    The great Italian designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro, said Fioravanti’s 308 GTB was “the most perfect car I’ve ever seen”…

    Great writing! Thank you.


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