When the Stars Align

Published by David Flett on

Today was a rare day. Actually it was rarer than rare. Not only was it the first January day I can ever remember that was a sunny and warm 17C with salt-free roads.

It was also a winters day when my Ferrari was not in pieces. Hell, it was not even on the lift. Winter is traditionally when I do the maintenance and restoration the old girl needs. So it is normal for the car to have wheels, mechanical systems and various body parts removed at this time. However, due to my laziness and other commitments, here we were in the middle of the winter downtime, and my car… was… drivable.

Ferrari 308
January and the car is together!

It was also a day where I had a gap of three hours in my schedule. Ok, it was not really a gap… I was supposed to be painting the house during this freak January heatwave. However I was fully prepared to claim a mental health day with my Ferrari ESV (Emotional Support Vehicle) to the powers that be instead. I can paint another day.

So these three events conspired to lead me to consider something normally unthinkable… driving a vintage Ferrari on the US north-east roads in the middle of winter.

I had not even considered this was a possibility earlier in the morning. I was driving home from Home Depot having bought the paint (you see, I had every intention of painting) and I passed a friend’s house in the village. I noticed his garages were open. The 911 Turbo, check. The Aston Martin Vantage, check. The Ferrari 430, gone. OMG . David was out driving his ultra-clean, low mileage 430 manual. In January!!!! I have known David for six years and this was only the third time I had ever seen him take the Ferrari out at any time of the year, let alone during the winter.

So I thought, well if he can drive his Ferrari in January, so can I. I looked out the front window to the road below. The tarmac was a little wet. That’s it, it’s too wet, the car can stay in the garage. 

There might be some residual salt as well. Yes, much better to leave the car in the garage and not risk further corrosion. I could not believe I was talking myself out of driving the car. Who the hell am I saving the car for? Its for driving… If ever there was day made for driving here, this was it.

Restored Ferrari 308 GTB
No rain, no snow and no salt

The car started at the first attempt even after 2 months with no use, which is normal for my car. A combination of a reliable battery, Webers in good tune and some deft footwork on my part (of course). I backed the car out and headed for gas. The first few yards were somewhat lumpy and rough… ah… the car had sat long enough for the tires to flatspot a little. That always sorts itself out quickly. No worries. 50 yards down the road and all was good. Wonderful.

At 70 mph I heard a new noise. Now I don’t think I am unique in being totally and utterly paranoid about my car’s engine. So much so that any new noise immediately strikes fear of complete and impending engine meltdown. I spent so long rebuilding it, buying engine and electrical parts from places like PJ Power Inc (who sell things like Solenoids and MW Murphy Magnetic Switch), that it has become my baby. I am constantly paranoid. What was this noise? It was a whooshing sound. Sounded like a supercharger but it wasn’t intake noise. A frantic second or two of brain activity came up with nothing engine related that could possibly make that noise so I made a hard right onto a road that would take me back to the house. I was bailing. As soon as I turned the noise stopped.

On the drive back to the house I figured it out. Water. The roads were damp and at 70 mph, the car was pulling spray up onto the door and in through the missing seal (note to self: fit a new door seal). In my state of paranoia, I had just curtailed a drive because the noise of water on the door had scared me. For goodness sake man, get a grip, I thought.

Back out to get gas. On the same road I took a drier line and the whooshing noise vanished. Hahahahaha. But now there was something else. My brain snapped back into sound-analysis mode. It sounded like a bearing. It was road-speed dependent, not gear or engine speed related. Great. This was not going to cost me a gazillion dollars to put right. I decided it’s probably a driveshaft CV joint that is a little dry. With my new found courage, I drove on.

Ferrari 308 in Harriman Park
The driving conditions were perfect

Being January, most of my regular driving roads were closed for the winter so I had to stick to the larger, more popular routes. However traffic was light and what other drivers there were gave more thumbs up and waves than I normally see. It was almost like the weather had put the whole of the county in a good mood. Even the cyclists who treat my vintage Ferrari with disdain smiled and waved. Everyone was happy.

The driveshaft noise disappeared as soon as the car got really warm making me think its definitely a lubrication issue. Time to rebuild those CVs I guess. Once the car was thoroughly warm it behaved impeccably. It never ceases to amaze me how different the car feels once everything is hot. When cold the car feels old and awkward but once it is warmed-up it feels alive and ready for thousands of miles. Some would say it is a lot like its owner in that regard.

What a car!

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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.

Categories: Driving


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