Keeping Racing Fun In A Ferrari 308

While covering the prodigious Targa Tasmania tarmac rally earlier in the month, I was also on the lookout for a few cars to give a little extra attention to. I was spoiled for choice when it came to potential spotlight feature candidates, but this made it all the more difficult to pick one car over another!

Ferrari 308 Targa-8440

I do have a predisposition towards vintage European machinery, and on Day 2 of the event I was drawn to the wash bay by the lustrous Rosso Corsa of a Ferrari 308 that had thus far evaded my lens. As is my usual style, I snapped a few shots before disturbing the owner with my questions – all the better to capture some natural shots and in this case let them complete the job at hand.

Ferrari 308 Targa-8484

“Your 308 is beautiful,” I volunteered. “The colour-scheme just looks so right – do you mind if I take some more photos?” The race-suited owner opened up immediately and before long we were immersed in what was more friendly conversation than interview, discussing the finer points of detail and how the car had been performing on the varied stages that Targa Tasmania had served up so far. The smiles from both driver and co-driver said just as much as their words, so let’s find out why two men who should have by all rights been exhausted had so much enthusiasm to share with a nosy photographer.

Ferrari 308 Targa-8473

In the 308 the carbureted 2.9-litre V8 is mounted transversely (as opposed to longitudinally like in a 458) with the 5-speed transmission mounted low at the rear of the engine. Interestingly, from 1977 to 1981 the GTB actually featured a dry sump lubrication system. From the factory this engine produced 252hp, which while paling against today’s standards of performance only has to move an approximate 1,200kg curb weight. The spec list reads well otherwise: clutch-type limited-slip diff, double wishbone independent suspension as well as vented disc brakes front and rear. This particular car remains largely stock, aside from a few reliability upgrades and other modifications required for tarmac rallying.

Ferrari 308 Targa-8472

Inside the soft Italian leather is long gone, replaced by fixed-back race seats, a full rollcage and rally instrumentation. Of course, the beautiful shifter and open gate remains and I doubt any other driver at Targa is as satisfied as David is when he snicks home a gear with a distinctive ‘clack’.

Ferrari 308 Targa-8470

Targa regulations require competitors to carry a spare wheel and tyre, which in the 308 is tucked neatly into the stock location under the front hood. Thankfully it was unused at this point!

Ferrari 308 Targa-8450

Amongst the mandatory decals and period-correct brand stickers, one was unrecognizable to me – this green and slightly mischievous looking feline keeping the prancing horse on the front guard company. David explained that his (at the time) infant daughter suggested that dad’s race car should have a cat on it. David’s inventiveness led him to discover that a favourite Maranello lunch spot of Enzo Ferrari was called Ristorante Gatto Verde – translating to the Green Cat Restaurant. This little character is emblazoned above the door of the restaurant and no doubt watched over many of Enzo’s important meetings and decisions.

Ferrari 308 Targa-8449

Subtle details like the white lettering on the Dunlop semi slicks and aforementioned Magneti Marelli and Koni decals reinforce the ’70s tarmac rally vibe that starts with the Carello rally lights at the front and ends with the bare, upturned tail – no diffuser to be seen here. The 15-inch Compomotive wheels sing to the same tune as well.

Ferrari 308 Targa-8456

While many of us associate the sportscar ‘wedge’ with the excess of the ’80s, the Pininfarina-penned design was actually first introduced to the world in 1975, when most manufacturers were still championing chrome bumpers and round headlamps as fashionable. Of course, the 288 GTO took this visual aggression even further when it beefed up the 308’s chassis for Group B rally duties.

Ferrari 308 Targa-8488

But back to the present day: the duo of Gilliver and Shellshear finished 5th from a field of 30 in the Late Classic Handicap class in their own rally-special Ferrari – not a bad effort! 2015 was the 12th year that the car and driver had made the pilgrimage to Tassie for Targa and I daresay it won’t be the last. These two gentlemen demonstrate one of the most appealing aspects of vintage motorsport: a bond between man and machinery that can be explored and built upon over years, as opposed to discarded as soon as regulations or technical advances result in competitive redundancy.

Blake Jones
Instagram: blaketjones



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must make good music when fully lit


must make good music when fully lit


Fine spotlight. Nice bit of trivia about the green cat too!


I took a new zealand performance car magazine survey and in it i stated I wanted to see more targa/b road related cars and events.
The illuminati listened and delivered. Cheers.


Ferrari back then had a tendency to overstate their power output so 252 hp is more like Porsche 225 hp. Anyway if that power was real then specific power of 210 hp/ton is better than today's WRX STi. bet you to 100 km/h the subie will be quicker. Make your own concusion





















Except there are a whole range of other factors which influence 0-60 times. Gearing, tyre technology, final driven wheels.

The Gp.4 308 GTBs were pretty successful FWIW.

Gianluca FairladyZ

Bella. Epic Design


Such a good looking classic, but the best thing about this spotlight is the green cat tidbit.


sivis CharlieJoiner 
You can't really compare the two.  I have an early 308 and an 04' tuned WRX.   Most modern cars are faster.  My WRX is much faster 0-60 - I can only imagine what an STI can do.  The Ferrari requires a better driver and takes more energy.   The reward is the feeling and experience.  They are not the end all be all but were a pretty good mark for what was possible to build at the time.


SpencerTillim sivis CharlieJoiner Put it this way... in the 70's, men were men,  racing was dangerous and sex was safe.
Racing these days is safe and sex uhhh... well even cars these days get an sti...

As Spencer said, you cant really compare the two.


I can't believe neither the author nor any commenter has said anything about the 27 on the bonnet being written in a larger font than the 6... really!?!?


Great article, I'm surprised that nobody has commented on the fact that although it's an Italian car it's colour scheme is one of the most easily recognised classic english race colour schemes Gold Leaf Team Lotus! If the car had a gold stripe between the red top and white bottom it would be perfect Lotus colour scheme. Look for pictures of the Lotus 49B driven by Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt and you'll see what I mean.


I really enjoyed to read this post. Great!



gwhisky There's actually a good reason for this. The car's racing number is 627 but number 27 (and 28) were Ferrari's racing numbers in F1 until 1995.


Blake Jonesgwhisky 81-89 and 91-95 to be precise (and on some occasion before that too) but I doubt that is the reason. 
I suspect it has more to do with 27 being Gilles Villeneuve's racing number in 1981 and 1982. Pretty sure the love for the aforementioned driver is the reason for highlighting it (and the reason no one ever cared about #28).


the car was very good 
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