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Ferrari 308 GTS review New Zealand

In December 1980 something stunning flashed up on our small family TV screen. All dressed in Red; it was a thing of such beauty that it captivated my attention from the moment it power slid off the grass and on to the Hawaiian highway with Tom Selleck behind the wheel. It was, of course, a Ferrari 308 GTS. Its gloriously pointed nose with pop up headlights, deep grooved door lines, 5 spoke ‘Star’ Alloy’s, round tail lights and a Targa top to let the island sunshine. Over the 8 years that the crime drama ran I always preferred the episodes that featured the 308 driving scenes; for me (and probably thousands of others) Mike Post’s theme tune was the Ferrari 308 soundtrack, it became synonymous with this piece of automotive art.

I (again like many) researched the car, had posters on my wall, had diecast models, I even had the Magnum soundtrack as my mobile ringtone in the 90’s. Yes some would deem it sad but this the amount of pure emotion and ‘lust’ I had for the 308. The 308 GTB Berlinetta and GTS Targa rolled off the Maranello production line from 1975 to 1985. This Mid-Engined (2.9) 3L V8 had 4 twin-choke Webber carburetor’s that produced 188 kW’s of power at 6,600 rpm and would red line at 7,000. This amount of power combined with a lightweight body meant that it would move from 0-100kph in 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 256kph!

My 308 experience (on Hampton Downs racetrack) – As seems to be the way every time I get near a Ferrari; my apprehension and muted excitement levels were high, but there was something more this time too. A layer or two had been added, call them a sense of achievement or a certain amount of self-pride – this time I was about to realize my own personal childhood wish and get behind the wheel of a Ferrari 308. It’s been said many times that you should never meet your hero, that they (or in this case ‘it’) will never meet with your expectations but (and this is a big BUT) although I have a bit of a dreamer mentality; I have to say that I am a realist too – I was fully aware that the car I was about to set foot in was first produced forty years ago, I knew that this was no spring chicken.

With the keys in my hand (and after mentally patting myself on the back) it was time.A gentle pull on the door handle and its deceptively light door swung open. I was greeted by the classic scent of well-used leather of its light tan/creamy interior. I slipped inside and immediately felt comfortable, I somehow knew I would be the right height for this Italian sportscar – it suited me far better than a 1.92m Magnum! Her black dashboard and large (skinny) wheel was a stark contrast to the modern day vehicles I have been driving lately and it seemed to take me back to a simpler time of life. The gearstick stood up tall and proud from the silver gate that on so many occasions I have peered in at through the driver’s door window, but would now get the chance to use.I turned the key and started her up; I know she takes a little time to get prepared for going out – and I was in no hurry.

Comfortable that we were both ready I dipped the clutch and selected first gear (well tried to) I had to slip into second before I was allowed to get into first. A press on the accelerator and I was out of pit lane and onto the track. There is a lot of talk about the positioning of the foot pedals, too close to the console or side wall, however, call me lucky or call it fate but with my small feet, it all felt perfect. Power steering was nowhere to be seen and as I approached turn two she made me work to get around, I didn’t mind one bit. All up I did two and three-quarters of the track in this beautiful machine of dreams.

To many people; In comparison to virtually all modern day cars this forty-year-old would quite possibly come up short. Yes she ran hot, yes the cabin lacked AC, yes the steering was tough… the list of pettiness could go on but in the place that really mattered – my heart – this magnificent car fulfilled and by far exceeded my every expectation of her.

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April 24, 2016

Dave Mcleod

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