1976 Ferrari 308 GTB ‘Vetroresina’ (1st UK RHD car ever built / press car)
Apple, Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Nike are brands recognisable the world over. So is Ferrari and interestingly the iconic Italian luxury sports car manufacturer was named ‘The World’s Strongest Brand’ in the 2019 Brand Finance Global 500 Report.
Founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1939 out of Alfa Romeo’s race division as Auto Avio Costruzioni the company built its first car in 1940. The Second World War halted Ferrari’s dream, which was finally realised in 1947, when the first car bearing his name, the Ferrari 125 S, was built. From that day on Ferrari race cars dominated the world over, winning race after race and many world championships in Formula One, sports car racing and endurance racing. Ferrari built exclusive sports cars for the road too, but in the early days, this was primarily to fund his motor racing!
The Cavallino Rampate or ‘prancing horse’ was the symbol chosen by Ferrari and like the ‘golden arches’ it is recognised by just about every man, woman and child on the planet!
The Ferrari road cars from the 1940’s and early to mid-1950’s were built in very small numbers and it was not until the introduction of the 250 series cars that production numbers increased. Almost 1,000 Ferrari 250 GTE’s were built from 1959 – 1963. The 250 series also produced some of the most special Ferraris ever built, including the Ferrari 250 LM, 250 SWB, 250 California Spider and of course the 250 GTO. The 250 series cars were superseded by the 275 series cars, the 330 series cars and later the 365 series cars. The nomenclature designated the cubic capacity of each cylinder. So a Ferrari 330 was powered by a 12 cylinder engine of 3967cc capacity. Ferrari’s iconic Dino was first shown to the world as a prototype at the 1965 Paris Motor Show. The car morphed into the 206 GT of which only 150 cars were built from 1967 to 1969. In 1969 the 246 GT was released, which whilst a similar looking car in many ways was actually quite different. The car sat 3” taller than its predecessor and the body was now built from steel. Mechanically the ‘new car’ was powered by a 2418cc V6 engine. Enzo was keen to tackle Porsche head on and to do this he needed to increase production. The Dino was a hit and circa 4,000 of these cars (both the 246 GT and 246 GTS) were built from 1969 to 1974.
At the 1975 Paris Motor Show, Ferrari introduced its new model, the Pininfarina designed 308 GTB. The 308 GTB was introduced as a supplement to the Bertone shaped 308 GT4 2+2 and a direct replacement for the Dino 246 GT. The 308 GTB received rave reviews from the motoring press and it was an instant success. The Dino 246 GT fans were pleased to see some of the design elements from the Dino carried across, such as the scalloped air intakes on the side panels, the twin tail lights and the recessed curved window glass. At the same time, it was definitely a modern design.
Carrozzeria Scaglietti was responsible for the bodywork, however there was a slight difference compared to previous models. The 308 GTB was the first production Ferrari to be produced with a fibreglass body (or glass-reinforced plastic, GRP), except for the front bonnet, which was made out of aluminium. There are various arguments as to why Ferrari chose fibreglass for its new model but the general consensus is Ferrari was disappointed with the sales results of the Dino 308 GT4 and wanted to speed up the production of the new car to offset lost sales to competitors such as Porsche, Maserati, Lamborghini and Lotus. It was also quicker and easier to make moulds for fibreglass construction than dies for metal pressings. Using fibreglass also helped to keep the weight down. In fact, the 308 GTB only weighs 1,050kg. It’s debatable exactly how many fibreglass Ferrari 308 GTB’s were built. The most often stated numbers are 712 and 808, of which perhaps 150 were right hand drive. It is understood that Ferrari switched to steel bodies (in June 1977) for commercial reasons. The Italian translation of fibreglass is ‘vetroresina’, which is the nomenclature often used for these cars.
The first 308 GTB’s were powered by a three litre V8 engine with a dry sump. Countries that had more stringent emission control standards at the time, such as the USA and Australia, received wet sump cars only. Later on, all 308 GTB’s had wet sump engines.
In 1977 Ferrari introduced the 308 GTS, which was essentially the same car with a targa roof. The car was made famous through its appearance in the TV show Magnum PI. The model evolved into the 308 GTBi / 308 GTSi in 1980 when Bosch K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection replaced the traditional Weber carburettors. Two years later the four valves per cylinder “Quattrovalvole” or “QV” was introduced. The 308 was an incredible success and circa 12,000 cars were built from 1975 to 1985 before the 328 was introduced.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a very special Ferrari 308 GTB ‘Vetroresina’.
This particular car is confirmed as the very first UK delivered, factory right hand drive 308 GTB ever built. Documentation on file from the Maranello Concessionaires Archives confirms that this car was ordered on the 19th September 1975 and specified as ‘rosso chiaro’ (20-R-190) with a beige leather interior (VM3234) and beige carpets. The car was ordered with electric windows, tinted glass, a heated rear window, leather trim and air conditioning. The car was delivered on ‘EE plates’ ex Maranello and we assume driven back to the UK. The documentation on file notes this car as a Maranello Concessionaires Demo or Press car and it was first registered in the UK as MPH70P. The original service book states a delivery date of the 27th May 1976. The car’s first service is dated 1st June 1976 at 959 miles and that mileage would be the road trip from Maranello in Italy to Maranello Concessionaires in the UK.
This very car was featured in a number of motoring publications including Autocar (issue 23rd October 1976) and Motor (issue 11th September 1976). It was also featured on the cover of a 1980 Eurovox car calendar.
Unfortunately, little is known of the car’s subsequent early history until it found its way to Australia, most likely in the early 1980’s. The car was owned for many years by journalist Bruce Webster who predominantly used the car for track days and tarmac rallies. Unfortunately in Webster’s ownership the car suffered a catastrophic engine failure at a race meet in the 1980’s. The original dry sump engine was replaced by a wet sump engine. The car changed hands in 2000 and its new owners took a still relatively standard 308 GTB and modified it further to improve its performance. The car competed in the Australian Tarmac Championship and rallies such as Targa Tasmania (13 times), Targa Wrest Point (6 times), Targa High Country Mt Buller (3 times), Alpine Classic and others. In 2011 the car finished a very credible 19th outright and 1st in class at Targa Tasmania, taking care of the early Porsche 911’s and BDA Escorts!
In 2014 the car suffered an ‘off’ at Targa Tasmania resulting in some front end panel damage. That turned out to be the end of a very successful tarmac rally career for this 308 GTB and the car was subsequently sold. Given the soaring values of all classic Ferraris and the significance of this car, its new owner decided to restore it back to road going guise and to how it was delivered to Maranello Concessionaires back on the 27th May 1976. The only exception was that he chose to restore the car with a deep front spoiler, which was an option back in the day. The original front spoiler will accompany the car. His most important task was to source a correct dry sump engine for the car which he was able to do.
Today this Ferrari 308 GTB ‘Vetroresina’ presents and drives exceptionally well. The body was completely stripped and professionally restored. There was no choice but to finish the car in its original and classical colour of ‘rosso chiaro’! Even though the car was painted some years ago it has not been used since it was restored and as a result the paint work remains fresh and vibrant with a strong depth of colour. All of the exterior trim, badges, bumpers, lenses and the glass are in excellent condition. Importantly the car sits on original 14” wheels with correct Michelin XWX tyres, which give the car a perfect stance.
You open the door to reveal an interior that presents beautifully. The seats and door cards have been re-upholstered and the work was done to a very high standard. The car has new carpets throughout, including the boot. The original steering wheel, all of the instruments and controls are in good condition and everything looks to be in working order. After getting comfortable behind the wheel, it’s time to bring that V8 engine to life. Turn the ignition on and let the fuel pump do its work, then turn the key and with a short blip of the accelerator pedal the V8 bursts to life. The car starts easily and quickly settles into a smooth idle. We love the exhaust note of a 308 GTB . . . it is loud but in a refined way! After waiting (impatiently!) for a few minutes for the car to warm up, it’s time to take it out on the road. This 308 GTB does not disappoint. In fact, it is absolutely fabulous to drive!
The engine feels strong and it revs freely throughout the rev range. The gated shifter is a feature on these 308’s and it lets you move the gear lever through the gears with great precision. The gearbox is smooth and shifting up and down is easy. Out on the open road this 308 is a real pleasure to drive. Its handling is exactly what you expect from a Ferrari 308 GTB. It is nimble and precise. It simply goes where you want it to go and it stops when you want it to stop.
You get used to this car very quickly. It is very easy to drive, and that exhaust note . . . there’s no need for a radio in this 308! It just begs to be driven.
The air conditioning system has been disconnected. There is a compressor complete with brackets and a new condenser (which is almost impossible to find) that will accompany the car.
As mentioned previously, this car has not been used since it was restored. It certainly needs to be driven and on every outing we’ve had with the car it gets better and better the more you drive it. The car will require a final tune which will be done prior to delivery to its new owner.
The car does not have a thick history file, but importantly it does have its book set, including its original warranty card, in the Ferrari leather wallet. There is also a correct, complete tool kit, jack kit, space saver spare wheel, safety triangle and accessory light.
- Confirmed as the very first UK delivered, factory right hand drive Ferrari 308 GTB ‘Vetroresina’ built.
- A UK delivered, factory right hand drive example.
- The Maranello Concessionaires Demo or Press car.
- Featured in period car magazines.
- Finished in its original colour scheme of ‘rosso chiaro’ with a beige interior.
- The car has recently been restored and it presents and drives fabulously.
- Accompanied by books, including the original warranty card, tools and a jack kit.
- The car is ready to be enjoyed by its next owner.
These fibreglass bodied Ferrari 308 GTB’s were built in relatively small numbers and they are now highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts the world over.
The odometer reads 10,151 miles.
- Ferrari 308 GTB Vetroresina
- 10,151 miles