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“The chassis is just fantastic. All the superlatives have been trotted out time and again, but its impeccable balance, terrific grip and uncanny stability rouse the taste buds of even the most jaded motoring palate.
…the 3.2-litre model has polished the Maranello veneer to fresh standards of excellence. It might well be the last of its line, but, unquestionably, it is the best.” Motor Sport, March 1987
Ferrari introduced the original 308 in 1975 and it remained in production for a decade, before being usurped by the 328 (Type F106), a visually very similar feast for the eyes though it sported various small styling updates as well as an extra couple of hundred cubic centimetres of pure Italian V8 (3.2 litres as opposed to 3.0, as the model numbers might suggest). The 328 presented a slight softening of the wedge profile of its predecessor and these looks have come into their own now. In addition to this, by common consent if you‘re actually after driving your classic Ferrari, the 328 is the one to go for, being considered by many enthusiasts to be one of the most reliable and practical of all classic Ferraris - unlike some models you don’t need to perform a full engine-out mechanical strip down in order to re-attach an errant wire to the alternator.
Pininfarina (who else?) paid particular attention to styling details that influenced the car’s CD and aerodynamic lift characteristics with impressive results while cabin ergonomics were improved along with the shape of the seats.
In the middle of 1988 ABS brakes were made available as an option for the all disc set up which required a redesign of the suspension geometry to provide negative offset and this unfortunately resulted in the car feeling slightly less responsive.
The 328 retained underpinnings that can be traced back to the 206 Dino; tubular chassis, independent suspension via wishbones, coil springs and hydraulic shock absorbers plus front and rear anti roll bars.
In its initial incarnation as fitted to the 308 GT4 of 1973 and 308 GTB two years later, the flat plane cranked V8 engine was rated at some 252 BHP but over the next few years this figure dwindled to a low of just 211 BHP despite by then being fuel injected. In 1982, a doubling of the valve count restored most of this loss with the 308 Quattrovalvole having some 240 BHP but it was not until the 328 arrived in 1985 that the original power output was eclipsed. 274 BHP at 7,000 RPM (the red line being at a heady 7,700 RPM) and peak torque of 224 lb ft at 5,500 RPM in a car weighing a modest 1,325 kg translated into 0-60 MPH in 5.5 seconds and a top speed of 160 MPH. Unequivocally a seminal power unit, essentially the same engine went on to produce nearly 420 BHP in the 2003 360 Challenge Stradale.
The 328 remained in production for four years, during which time 6068 examples were manufactured with targa topped GTS production outstripping that of the Berlinetta (great name by the way) almost five to one. Drill down into the 1,344 GTBs produced and according to the UK importer of the time, Maranello Concessionaires, only 130 UK right hand drive cars were brought into the country and the section of the Venn diagram for non-ABS machines is inhabited by just 77 examples; even by Ferrari standards, a UK RHD non-ABS 328 GTB is a super-rare beast.
Unfortunately there is often no correlation between rare and good; some cars are rare because they were frankly a bit rubbish (not naming names, Austin Allegro Equipe), consequently not many were made and those that were reached the scrap heap long before they could be rescued by the kitsch brigade. However, in this case we would make a strong case for this particular 328 GTB’s specification being quantifiably the most desirable and its rarity a bonus equivalent to a truffle on top of your Kobe beef sarnie. Our arguments are as follows:
Supplied via Scottish Ferrari dealers Glen Henderson Motors Ltd. of Ayr, the 328 was registered on 19th February 1987 making it, in terms of design and production, very much an ‘Enzo era’ machine. With the Ferrari and classic car market booming, demand massively outstripped supply and as prices rocketed cars were sold and resold in rapid succession. When “il Grande Vecchio" passed away in August 1988, the upward trend received more boost than an F1/87/88C with its pop-off valve jammed shut and investors jumped onto the “this is the last of the models produced during the great man’s watch” bandwagon. Indeed, D607UMR had passed through some six owners hands before it’s third birthday, some keeping it for as little as a couple of months and less than 1,000 miles. One has to wonder if these owners enjoyed the experience as much as their accountants did…
Boom led eventually to bust and owners interested in the cars as opposed to their values returned to the market including this example’s previous owner, Ferrari Owners Club stalwart and officer of over thirty years standing, Nicky Paul-Barron who acquired the car in January 1993. Though a respected dealer he kept the 328 for nearly four years (comfortably more than the first six owners had manged between them) taking the mileage up to a sensible but far from stratospheric 18,749. The current guardian then purchased the Ferrari in October 1996 through renowned pre-owned Prancing Horse purveyors and Official Ferrari Distributors Mortimer, Houghton and Turner Ltd.; the Sales Contract for the transaction remains in the car’s history file.
Over the ensuing twenty-five years the vendor has covered some 40,000 miles in the GTB at an admirably constant rate, averaging 1,600 miles a year and rarely dropping below 1,000; the current mileage sits at just over 58,000. It is an exercise regime that has kept the Cavallino’s joints from stiffening up while not wearing them out, a feat aided by rigorous servicing. The slight tailing off of the Ferrari’s annual mileage in recent years is the only driver behind the owner’s decision to sell.
A sensibly specified example in arguably the most popular of colour schemes (Rosso Corsa coachwork with Crema leather seats and Rosso carpets), a big tick in the (options) box was air conditioning though thankfully, in our opinion, the ‘trying too hard’ roof spoiler was not requested.
Today the Ferrari is in wonderful, clearly cherished condition and thankfully over the years no one has tried to make it anything other than what it is; a hand-made piece of Italian craftsmanship. No it doesn't fit together quite as well as a current robot built Audi (and if that is what you want, we understand their R8 is a fairly capable if soulless bit of kit) and not every stitch in the leather is millimetre perfect but it is as its makers intended, not clinical but oozing charm and character.
The paintwork is still lustrous and we suspect for the most part that applied in Italy nearly thirty-five years ago. The owner had the front of the car ‘de-stone chipped’ in about 2011 and though a few more have occurred since, they are minor and don’t detract from the overall impression of a very smart machine; on the other side of the pond ‘driver quality’ rather than ‘trailer queen’ would be the take.
Broadly speaking the bodywork is as described above; very straight and honest with good if not modern day perfect panel fit. In other words it is exactly as a late 1980s Ferrari would have been and in our view still should be. The only imperfection of any great note is a slight scrape to the off-side of the front spoiler though this plastic item could, we feel, be repaired rather than replaced and it is shown in the photo gallery for your own assessment. The front services cover has been very slightly distorted when a ham-fisted operative tried to close it without releasing the prop though this is so minor, the owner had to point it out to us and it could likely be tweaked back into alignment reasonably easily.
The glasshouse is all in good condition with no obvious cracks scratches or chips though moving on to the light units, the off-side indicator/side light has a crack in it but this doesn’t seem to be letting any water in.
Chrome is virtually non-existent on a 328 with satin black being the finish of choice in period for items such as window frames and this is all in good order with no fading or scratches evident. The Prancing Horse nose badges and ‘Ferrari’ script on the luggage lid are both in perfect condition as are the electrically adjustable logoed wing mirrors.
The original factory fit 16” wheels are in near to perfect condition with just a couple of small chips to their finish and they are wrapped in top quality Bridgestone Potenza tyres in the correct 205/55 and 225/50R16 sizes with all four corners having a good amount of tread left.
Inside the Crema (never an easy colour to keep clean) leather seats are in excellent condition with just a minimal amount of wear, less than might realistically be expected given the cars age and use. The carpets are for the most part in excellent condition with just some wear caused by the driver’s right heel though this could be dramatically improved with a new rubber pad and some re-stitching of the edge binding. The dashboard and headlining are in excellent shape as are the one or two plastic items such as switches and air vents. On that subject, the owner was not impressed by the “Fiat Uno quality” twist knobs between the seats so he had exact copies made up in aluminium though the originals are supplied with the car. All the instruments, switches and gauges work as intended while the air conditioning blows suitably cold and the electric windows perform briskly.
The engine bay is all neat and tidy with no resorting to the various valeting and detailing products beloved of ‘the trade’. There are no apparent fluid leaks and as a whole it has the air of a machine that has been well maintained by marque experts.
In the front services compartment the original alloy space saver wheel and tyre look to be unused while a useful safety and security cut off switch is present. The fragile textured plastic wheel surround is un-cracked.
Mechanically, again as expected, the fuel injected and electronically ignited V8 fired first time prior to our test drive displaying no foibles or temperament at all. During the recent service a slight misfire was traced to water ingress in one of the two distributors which was cured with a new cap, seal and rotor arm. Once clear of residential side streets a sweeping dual carriageway gave the 328 an opportunity to stretch its legs which it did impressively, galloping up to the legal speed limit and needing to be reigned-in at about half its attainable velocity. The oil pressure was a solid eighty PSI when cold and even with the engine fully warmed through it was still registering a healthy fifty-plus PSI at idle. The traditionally slightly recalcitrant second gear was evident only when cold and within a few miles the cog could be selected with ease.
Indicative of the cherished nature of the Ferrari is the very full set of tools, books and manuals that accompany it. The complete Factory set of tools and jack are in their original bags in the boot while the original Schedoni leather pouch contains the Service Record book, Owner’s Manual, Handbook and Sales and Service Directory. In a very smart scarlet box file there is a two page summary of every owner of the 328 from Day One including their then address and phone numbers along with the change of ownership dates and corresponding mileages. This was diligently put together by Mr Paul-Barron (in pre-GDPR times) and a note from him states that he verified the mileages, any work carried out and reasons for sale (new babies or Ferraris were a common theme...) with all the previous owners and that his findings were confirmed by MOT certificates and service records. Sitting alongside this most comprehensive of ownership histories is the current V5C and an enviably full set of twenty-nine MOT test certificates including the one acquired just a few weeks ago, needless to say free of even an ‘advisory’. Also present is every invoice for servicing work from 1987 to date confirming this work was for the most part carried out within the Ferrari Main Dealer network and when this was not the case, the GTB was entrusted to independent specialists Terry Hoyle or Bob Houghton, two names that have an almost legendary status in Ferrari circles. Most recently attended to by Carrs Ferrari in Exeter on 8th June this year at 57,740 miles, they note a two-yearly change of cam belt would be due at around this time though many would argue a new one every three or even five years is more than sufficient; indeed we have seen Ferrari Main Dealers pass up the opportunity to change a belt until it is five years old.
A widely held view is that the 328 is the most usable of the classic Ferraris, one you can just jump in and drive an hour or a month after your last hugely enjoyable trip thanks to both its user friendly nature (in no small part due to relatively high profile tyres) and well developed (i.e. starts first time, every time) classic V8 engine whose epic soundtrack is thankfully unmuted by turbochargers. They are wieldy (narrower than a Ford Focus) unlike a Testarossa, Countach or SF90 Stradale, charmingly analogue and engagingly physical with rewarding controls; we aren’t the first people to mention the exposed gear change gate. They have just enough kit such as a luxurious leather trimmed cockpit, electric windows and (in this case at least) air conditioning to encourage frequent and extensive use.
Having established the credentials of a 328 as a frequent driver, this example is for us the most useable of useable Ferraris. While in cherished, lovely condition, it is neither so pluperfect or of such shamefully low mileage that one might feel guilty driving it for fear of damaging its physical condition or mileage record, however misguided we might think this is. It is just a lovely example that has been used as the makers intended, not mothballed and run fitfully which in itself creates its own issues. It is a supremely genuine machine, not a restored example that has lost so much of its original DNA. Yes, there are lower mileage cars out there though we seriously doubt they would perform any better than this example on top of which they are likely to cost a six figure sum to acquire.