I was only going to change the tires…

Published by David Flett on

Today I am at a juncture. I need to decide on 26359’s future. After 11 years together I have to decide if there will be 11 more. I always knew my 308 would need a ground up restoration eventually. Yes, I completely restored the interior in 2013 and yes, I renewed the suspension… twice, once in 2015 and then again in 2017… but now I feel the time has come to go big or go home.

Definitely time for some new tires

All I did was put the 308 on the lift to remove the wheels to put new tires on. These were the Etoile modular wheels the 308 had come with when I bought the car. I had plasti-dipped the wheels gold but now that finish was way past it’s best so the plan was to remove it before taking the wheels and new tires to the local tire shop to fit. But the plasti-dip would not come off the center sections cleanly leaving the wheels looking extremely shabby. So I guess it is time for new wheels as well.

Then I dropped the rear valance to see why my exhaust was sitting at a strange angle and I found a hole in the exhaust and some made-up Heath Robinson hangers that had been used to attach what appears to be a European spec ANSA sports exhaust to a US spec car. So I guess It’s time for a new exhaust as well.

The plasti dip has stuck solid to the center section of the wheels

And if I’m replacing the exhaust then I may as well convert the bumper and valance to euro spec. And if I do that… I may as well fix the rust in the rear quarters. And if I’m doing that why not pull the engine and give it a good service and clean. And if the engine is out, should I not refresh the frame? 

OMG… I only wanted to change the damn tires.

In order to detail just how much mission creep I might be looking at, let’s consider what needs to be fixed on this Ferrari 308. Bearing in mind though, that this car has never really let me down and has generally always been a pleasure to drive around the twisty roads in the mountains around my home. For the purposes of insurance, I had always identified this car somewhere between 2 and 3. Hagerty customers will be familiar with the scale. So…

  1. I always wanted to convert to European bumpers
  2. It needs new 16” wheels and the 14” wheels also need restoring
  3. There is rust in the rear quarters, one door and one front fender. 
  4. It is painted the wrong shade of red
  5. The rear exhaust does not fit well and now also needs replacing. 
  6. The window trim needs re-anodizing in parts
  7. The paint has some pretty big chips in it where a strip light fell on the car a few years ago
  8. It needs a belt service
  9. I want to change the water pump and pipes. 
  10. It has sodium filled exhaust valves 😳
  11. The original steering rack needs rebuilding, preferably with a quicker rack. 
  12. It needs a replacement aluminum under tray. 
  13. I’d like to have more modern brakes on the car. 
  14. It could benefit from electronic ignition 
  15. The gear linkage is a little stiff

That’s a pretty long laundry list of items and given my speed of working it will take at least three years. Not everything has to be done. The non-stock modernization items like the brakes and ignition would be lower priority. The rust, bumpers and non-Ferrari red have to be fixed though.

Do I really want to embark on a time-consuming restoration?

Any restoration would be funded through the sale of my all original, low miles BMW E46 M3. So I’d be simultaneously loosing the use of the M3 and the Ferrari 308. I had been searching for a 360 Modena to add to the stable as well and these plans would also be pushed back. I’d have no fun cars to drive. Or I could sell both cars and move straight across to a 360 – the only car I said I’d willingly sell the M3 in order to get.

Please feel free to leave a comment below or use the form at the bottom of the page to subscribe so you don’t miss future updates. Your email will not be used for any other purpose and you can unsubscribe at any time using the link in the email. Thanks, David.

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: Restoration


Day Krolik · June 2, 2021 at 1:41 am

You and I have corresponded before. I flatter myself by saying we are a lot alike. We like to do things properly and restore cars thoroughly. I used to restore motorcycles as well and was “liberated” when I decided I did not need to restore a Ducati 750 GT to absolutely as new condition, as I had with previous bikes. I bought my 308 because, over nine years, I had restored my 67 E type OTS to near perfection and just had to keep my hands off it.

I have admitted that, if I had to make a choice, I would rather work on cars than drive them. I have a feeling you may feel the same way and it is the restoration which gives us pleasure.

I think the question is whether the 308, or something else, is ultimately the car you want. If it is, keep at the restoration; if not, move on. After nearly 60 years of wrenching, I am quite content with my E Type, 308, 1969 Jeep Commando and 2013 Porsche 911 C4S. Sure I might have liked a vintage Ferrari V 12, but even if I wanted to spend the money, I want a car that I can drive, and park, and not worry. And I like my cars in my home garage, not a remote location.

I think the 308 is an interesting and fairly easy car to work on and great fun to drive. And it is a Ferrari. High-quality exterior painting is one thing I can’t do – but maybe you can live with the non-original red. But if you
have another “dream car” in the back of your mind – just go for it.

    David Flett · June 3, 2021 at 1:51 am

    Thanks Day. I am leaning towards keeping it and going all in with the restoration. However it is as much as an existential question for the M3 as it u it a for the 308. It’s going to be a hard car for me to sell but I also want a fun car that I can jump in and go… the ying to the 308s yang while it’s in restoration…

      Day · June 3, 2021 at 3:39 am

      I look forward to following your progress. I have done fuel, ignition, steering and suspension along with a lot of cosmetic stuff. I haven’t done brakes because they are working extremely well, although I think I will tackle them next winter. By the way, I am extremely pleased with the Continental Extreme Contact Sport Plus. And when I ordered them I didn’t even realize they had a cavallino rampante on the sidewall.

    David Flett · June 3, 2021 at 1:58 am

    I agree the 308s are easy to work on and that was always part of the appeal for me and why I shied away from the 348s and 355s. I would not do the painting. There are a few collector car paint shops around my area so I’d aim to
    Split the work between them and me to get the work done. I would handle disassembly and reassembly and they would provide the skills to restore the stripped body work.

Bob Orris · June 2, 2021 at 11:35 pm

Thank you David,

This is a great and needed site. There is a huge 3xx community out there. I owned a 1985 308gts, and an 86 328 also a gts. for nearly 10 years. I enjoyed tinkering with them. I am searching for my next Ferrari and I think it is going to be a 308gtb. Having two gts cars I want to experience the Berlinetta. I am considering a carbureted model. I very much enjoy your projects, and posts keep up the great work. Looking forward to your next post. P/S I too have considered a 360 and have driven several both F1, and 6 speed’s. They are fantastic cars for sure. But I am drawn back to the 308-28’s. I guess I’m a bit nostalgic.

Best regards

    David Flett · June 3, 2021 at 1:55 am

    Thank you for the kind words Bob. I have a feeling that SN 26359 will be around for a while longer.

Dave · June 3, 2021 at 5:10 am

At cross roads too..
My carb 308 is a Q driver. Mechanically excellent, interior functional for driving.. everything works including cold A/c
Smogging is a drama and expense every other year.. carb car in Ca.

Paint is a 2 footer..

Repaint or not… cost is the price of the car…
Yet if repainted to a quality.. it will not be a driver…
i made this mistake with my 365 gtc4. I changed a excellent driver into a don’t drive concourse car…

My 308::is a drive anywhere car now.. (except for Ca smog)
On the fence…
Xke’s look real nice….

    David Flett · June 5, 2021 at 2:12 am

    Hi Dave. Thanks for your input. You beat me with working AC… another thing to add to my list.
    Even if I restore it, I will drive… it’s my nature to use stuff… even nice, restored stuff. In fact I think I will enjoy using it more, the nicer it is. I can imagine Smog is a pain with these cars. I’m lucky I don’t need to do that… as long as my lights and brakes work, I’m good to go.

Mark · June 8, 2021 at 1:18 pm

Dave, for now I will just comment on your original intention v mission creep which I know all too well. IMO, the best wheel and best looking wheel for the 308’s are the OEM 16″ Cromodora wheels. 16 x 7 up front w/ 16 x 8 at the rear. I have these on my ’83 308 and being magnesium, they are also vey light. I purchased mine close to 30 years ago along with a spare set. At that time, I believe I was purchasing some of the last ones available from Ferrari. Ferrari started to sell an inferior replacement for a period of time. They are now close to impossible to find. The repro’s are aluminum and a decent alternative. As for tires, I put 225’s up front w/ 245’s at the rear. Tire choice for 16″ rims is dwindling. Continental makes the DWS06+ in a 225/16, an excellent A/S tire. For Michelin, you have to go to the BFGoodrich line where there are many choices in their g-Force lines. Also very good tires. The 328’s have similar 16 inch but different wheels. The early 328 wheels where a “flat” 5-spoke design for pre ABS. The latter wheels were a bulging convex design for the ABS equipped cars. The offsets may be different on the 328 as well. Center caps are available, but I understand the yellow is slightly different from the originals. Does anyone care?

    David Flett · June 8, 2021 at 8:19 pm

    Hi Mark. Thank you for your suggestions. Pretty solid advice there. Wheels have been acquired. I found the tire choice to be ok when I bought on tirerack. The Dunlop Direzzas that I had on the car were still available but I went for all season tires this time rather than summer tires. It really makes little difference to the performance in my opinion since the capabilities of modern rubber are so much beyond that if a 308. I can justify pilot sports 4s on theM3 but on the 308such tires are overkill for me. The All seasons will wear better too. As for the original wheel center caps, I have been hoarding them for the last 10 years which might explain why there are none left

      Mark · June 9, 2021 at 4:09 pm

      Dave, I totally agree about the capabilities of the current all season tires. I am sure you know that the new Corvette comes with the Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4’s. All the tires I mentioned as well as the Michelin’s on my 308 are all season tires. I tend to stick with Michelin because of all the tires I have used since the 1960’s, I have had the best results with Michelins. I went through many sets of the Michelin XWX’s on my Camaro back in the ’70’s & ’80’s. Very interesting tire construction. A summer tire and useless in the snow. Rim and tire size can limit choice. I have the Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4’s on the Allroad, Continental DWS06+’s on my son’s Malibu and my Honda Odyssey in a 235/60-18 and are excellent tires and probably very close to the Michelin All Season 4. The Michelin All Season 4 does not come in a 235/60-18. Michelin does make the highly rated CrossClimate 2 in the 235/60-18, but many have mentioned a noticeable reduction in fuel mileage / electric range. Some say as much as 15%. Interesting. Here in the Mid-Atlantic region, the extra snow capability of the CrossClimate 2 is not that important. My E350 Sport Wagon still has the OEM Continentals, but will get the Michelin All Season 4’s when the time comes. I have a thing for tires. I want the very best on all my cars. It doesn’t matter how good your car is. On all cars it’s the tires that are between your car and the road.

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