$25K black-sheep Ferrari project car: Interesting or insufferable?

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Courtesy Larry Webster

“I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.” Winston Churchill’s words are ringing especially true in my ears, because I’m using them to justify the $25,000 I just spent on a long-dormant Ferrari. Some people read books to learn. I get my hands dirty.

This leap into Ferrari ownership is perhaps misguided, but it’s no whim. I’ve long fantasized about the marque, which occupies a special place in the heart of any lifelong car and racing enthusiast. After all, this sports car company was created with the singular vision of Enzo Ferrari, who loved racing above all else. I never imagined being in the position to own one of his cars, and I might well find out I can’t really swing what it’s going to take to get mine back on the road. But hey, I’m over 50, so if not now, when?

It’s a 1975 Dino 308 GT4, a black sheep in the Ferrari canon. Some purists sniff that it isn’t really a Ferrari because it was sold under a Ferrari sub-brand named after Enzo’s deceased son, Dino. Also, unlike the other Ferraris of the era, which were shaped by the Italian design house Pininfarina, the GT4 was drawn by Bertone. The 308’s wedge shape speaks to me, because its 1970s lines remind me of the Lotus Esprit and Triumph TR7, but my love seems to be rare. Perhaps that’s why even the best GT4s trade for less than the price of a new Corvette.

1975-Ferrari-308-GT4 engine
Courtesy Larry Webster

The big draw to my particular 308 is that it’s a project. I’ve had numerous mechanical affairs with American muscle cars, but this is my first time working on an Italian car. The four Weber carburetors need rebuilding, which I haven’t done before. I’ll have to replace the timing belts, set the points of two distributors, refurbish the calipers, and knock out a lengthy punch list on machinery I’ve never seen up close. In other words, plenty to learn.

Still, this is a big lane switch for me, and I’m wondering if my personal behavior—a taste for a vast variety of cars—suggests a larger trend. Car folks are typically tribal in that they pick a brand or a model and tend to stick with it, but maybe some of you share my automotive promiscuity.

As for the Ferrari, it’s been on my garage lift for weeks, and I’ve been leaning on both my local and far-flung car communities for suggestions and advice. An ask for help is a terrific social call. I’ll drag my kids in, too. They need to know which end of the screwdriver to hold.

I believe that a car’s position as a vessel for learning and an excuse to gather with friends is every bit as valuable as the driving experience. We touched on this topic in our book, Never Stop Driving (available at theshopbyhagerty.com and many bookstores), and the point is worth stressing over and over again.

I’d love to share my progress with the 308, but I realize that some people might not care about a cheap Ferrari. We are here, after all, for you. Drop me a line at lwebster@hagerty.com if you’d like to read about my latest project. Or not.

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