It's Ferrari timehttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/columnists/jamesmay/6408789/Its-Ferrari-time.html
Having decided that supercars are the vehicles of the future, it's time to back up the theory with cash...
By James May
My second paragraph this week is purely for the benefit of those who weren't reading last time. It's presented here in brackets so that the rest of you can skip on to the "interesting" bit.
(Last week, I argued that, contrary to what most people are telling us, the world will soon be full of indulgent supercars, because cars of a practical disposition will be redundant. It wasn't a very convincing argument, except that I was only trying to convince myself, and that's easy. Now read on.)
The weird thing is this. For years the thought of a supercar has pricked at the bubble of my desire, which is a flimsy membrane easily penetrated, and yet I've never had one. I'm discounting the Lamborghini Urraco I bought on Top Gear because it failed within 50 miles, owing to electrical ailments of such magnitude that they are not yet recognised by science.
I have the Porsche Boxster, of course, and that's a fairly selfish car, which is a step in the right direction. But it's a bit sensible. It has two boots, for Pete's sake, and it came with an umbrella. I still have my old 911 from Thatcher's Britain, but even that has been touted for decades as "the only supercar you can use every day", which must mean it's something else. It was driven to work by merchant bankers.
I've decided it's time to be a modernist; time to view motoring in a progressive light, which means, if my contentions of last week are correct, I should have a supercar. Clearly I can't put my name down for a new Ferrari 458 Italia or a Lamborghini Gallardo Balboni, so it will have to be something old with the spirit of a supercar, if not the actual trousers to live up to the name these days.
And after quite a bit of thought I've settled on the GRP-bodied Ferrari 308. I've always liked the look of it, and I know they're a bit rarer and more special than the later steel-bodied ones, and that the oil supply is a dry sump system. But that's about it.
You see, if you wanted to buy an old 911, I could help you. I know what to look out for, what they should cost, which are the best versions to have, how easy they are to maintain and so on. If I'd gone to a posh school I would have been able to bat for my house on the subject of the
Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow and its derivatives. I'd be fairly confident of buying a Citroën DS, too, or a Volkswagen Golf GTI MkII.
But old Ferraris? I'm not sure I really know what I'm talking about, and despite having driven many, none was a 308. It's probably terrible, but that's not really the point. I'm trying to do my bit to bring on the motoring philosophy of the future.
First up, the 911 would have to go. That means my mate Colin would excommunicate me, but on the plus side it would also mean that when the 308 went wrong, I'd be able to find the tools to mend it. Now I have to pay for the Fezza – and this is only the beginning of my confusion.
I've bought a book, I've been trawling the web of lies and I've been looking up old features in classic car magazines. How much should I pay for my 308? It could be as little as £18,000, apparently, but it might well be more than £30,000. No one seems to be sure.
There's more bafflement. The timing belts are the eternal bugbear of these old V8-engined cars, and changing them seems to cost £500 or £3,000, depending on which bit of Ferrari folklore you read. Some people reckon that replacing any component requires the whole car to be stripped down by a specialist, but I've also found a bloke who claims to have rebuilt the engine with not much more than his Swiss army penknife.
Driving impressions of the 308 suggest its manners are somewhere between those of a caveman and a ballerina. Apparently the ergonomics of the cabin are very poor, unless you're one of the people who says they're very good. I'd expect the electrical system to be terrible, and quite a few people back me up on this. But an equal number don't.
There appears to be no consensus on any aspect of Ferrari 308 ownership whatsoever, and I've never known a car to throw up such a wealth of conflicting expertise. And this, once again, means I need your help.
All I know for sure is that I don't want a red one. Dark blue, ideally, or possibly yellow.