009 The one about Ferrari's

I’ve already written about my automotive photography. I mentioned in there that my favourite marque of sports/supercar is Ferrari. So thought I’d write a bit about what is it about them that has given them that pole position…

Disclaimer... this is not a definitive guide to Ferrari, it is just a collection of memories and thoughts (ramblings) albeit backed up with some facts. A lot of the photos will relate directly to the words above them... some will not, but Ferrari so that's ok.

As kids we all had and have our favourite cars, our dream cars, the poster cars for our bedroom walls, the cars that we dream about owning… for me those cars were and are Ferrari’s, in particular the Ferrari’s from the late 60’ to the 80’s are the ones that are still my favourites. I remember as a kid every year the Daily Express and the Mail would publish a magazine detailing all the cars that would be available that year. I would religiously read thru these and memorize some of the stats, cost, top speed, power, 0-60… but I would always flick straight to the Ferrari pages. In fact I still do that when I get a new Top gear mag, head straight to the data pages. I remember one magazine I had back in the 80’s that was all about Ferrari, I bought it with my own pocket money and painstakingly went thru it putting down all the speeds in mph and they had all been done in those silly kph ones.

I think the first Ferrari’s that caught my attention were the Mondial 8 and the 308. That red, the sleek looking shape the inlets on the sides to let the engine breathe and the awesome sound they made. But wait, the Mondial was a 4 seater (well a 2+2)… Dad it’s a family car! This was where the lifelong love affair with the ladies in red (and yellow, black, blue) started. I was hooked. It would take many years till I had my first ride in a Ferrari, and I was behind the wheel! But more about that later.

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

From seeing those first models I then set about finding out more about them and this is where my love for the Daytona (365 GTB4/GTS4) started. While the 308 and Mondial had the V8 engines mid-mounted, this was a V12 mounted at the front! This was incredible! This is really where the look of the Ferrari line changed. The usual rounded arches leading to the headlights had changed. The body lines had been smoothed out, everything was contained within the overall shape. While the earlier models all followed that 60’s sports car look with the bulging look to the arches, this was different, this was a step into the future… But this car was incredible. The photos below are of a stunning example that was on show at the classic car even at Silverstone.

Then it appeared on the Miami Vice series… a black convertible one! Awesome! But hang on… No its not this is a kit car, a Daytona “shape” planted onto Corvette chassis. The engine sounds were also dubbed into the scenes to cover the V8’s that powered them… The popularity of the series and the attention the fakes were getting enraged Enzo to the extent that he offered the use of the latest model they had brought out, the Testarossa on the condition that the replicas were destroyed… who would say no to that offer, they were fakes after all.

One of those original eye catching Ferrari’s was also a TV star, the 308 GTS as driven by the P.I. Magnum… In the reboot for the series the 308 is destroyed… thankfully a CGI version that is! This allowed for the new Magnum to use one of the new models…

The 308 really was the stuff of dreams for a kid (and still for an adult), bright red and looking like it was going 100mph while just sitting there. Those inlets on the side, from the door ready to feed that screaming V8 with the air it needs to breathe fire and spit flames. This was the "my Ferrari" era absolutely nailed. The 308 had some decent performance figures for the time. 240bhp, 156mph at the top and a 0-60 time of 6.7 seconds.

There was some competition from within the ranks for this car. With emissions requirements (yes even then) and the turbo era of F1 taking hold it was only right to see this tech put into the road cars, the 208 GTB turbo was the first to have one mounted to its 2.0 litre V8, a huge upgrade in power to this car. A much harder choice now between the 308 GTB/S with its 2.9 litre fuel injected V8 and the smaller turbo engine. 

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

The Mondial was still holding its own here, the 2+2 was keeping up with the 2 seaters in both looks and power. This car was in production from 1980 to 1993. Even thru those years and the little tweaks to the styling, there was no mistaking in any of the four models that this was a Mondial. The biggest change to the looks came in the final model the 1989-93 Mondial t, the most noticeable change being the air intakes, they were reduced in both size and shape. Over its lifetime the engine increased from 2.9 to 3.4 litres, with the power taking a step from 214bhp up to a hefty 300bhp. The 0-60 was slashed from 8.2 seconds to 5.6! The engines in these trace their lineage back to the original Dino's. More about them a bit later.

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

But the addition of the turbo engine was leading to bigger and better things. While the Daytona is my favourite of the V12’s, a new beast was released. The 288 GTO this is quite possible my favourite Ferrari ever (without this there was not F40)… We are no longer talking about sportscars, now we have just stepped into the world got the Supercar! 2.9 litres (2.855) with twin turbos… 394 BHP… 189mph… 0-60 in 4.8 seconds… (we are in 1984 here these are incredible figures) A functional interior, totally Italian and totally suited to the car. I have only ever seen one of these cars in the wild and this was before I had cameras in my life. Oh to be able to spend some time with one of these and my camera now! This car was everything! Looks, speed, that sound! Still sporting those huge smooth intakes from the doors back to the rear wheels, now behind the wheels the body has added openings, to help with the cooling and just to add to the drama of the car. This was really was worthy of carrying the GTO badge, a full 20 years after the last time the name was used.

It was now that the Testarossa also made its entry and it had to be something special to stand out alongside the 288 GTO, it was that and more. Powered by a 5 litre (4.943) V12 this was a beast. It had a stunning wedge shape with a huge finned air intake dominating the side of the cars. With the large rear arches and the wider wheels at the rear, this car really had a look at me about it on the road. While the Miami Vice car was white, this was definitely one that needs to be red, even the name says so!

I will update this blog with photos of a Testarossa and a 288 GTO when I find them in the wild or at a show. 

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

Now came the successor to the 308, the 328 GTS/GTB. While looking visually similar to the 308 (not a bad thing in any way) and mechanically it was more of improvements rather than changes. This was a hugely improved car in every way, and was one of the most useable and reliable Ferrari's that had been built (you could even service the engine without having to lower it from the car!!). Other than the subtle changes to the body, improving aero and cooling, slightly softening the wedge shape. This biggest change really was the increase in engine size from 2.9 litres to 3.2 litres. This gave the 328 an extra 30bhp now pushing 270bhp and the top speed was now up to 166mh a 10mph boost and 1.2 seconds was taken off the 0-60 time now sitting at 5.5 seconds. The constant quest for speed and power was the clear to be seen. At the time the 308/328 family of cars were a huge commercial success for Ferrari, with a combined production run of nearly 20,000 cars the roads around the world the showcase for these stunning cars.

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

The next major car for me was the F40… this was without any doubt an evolution of the 288 GTO as was built to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Ferrari. While you can see elements of the 288/308 styles this was a new design and a new look, complete with a huge rear wing this car had speed all over it. Its 2.9 litre V8 twin turbo was now producing nearly 480bhp and the car could cover 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds reaching a top speed just shy of 202mph. This really was, and is something special. This was a car that shouted LOOK AT ME! Inside tho it was very sparse or minimalist, but then who needs things like door handles when a string would do, or electric windows, the early cars actually had plastic sliding windows like you'd see on rally cars. Carpets... nope not needed, trims, again nope... Everything about this car was geared towards speed. Oh and you could have it in any colour you wanted, as long as you wanted red (just like the 288 GTO)

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

You can’t talk about Ferrari without mentioning the name Dino, while in effect a marque in its own right, it was used by Ferrari to produce lower cost V6 sports cars, leaving the Ferrari name for the V12 and flat 12 cars. The Dino name was used until 1976 when it fell under the Ferrari brand. The Dino brand was in honour of Enzo’s late son Alfredo “Dino” Ferrari, who died in 1956 at the age of 24. The Dino name was used on the cars as they were fitted with the V6 engine that Alfredo was working on at the time of his death, in fact the script that was used in the badge was based in Alfredo’s signature. In all 11 cars carried the Dino name, 6 of those were sport prototypes and the other 5 were Gran Tourismo road cars. The last to carry the name was the 208 GT4 in 1975. Trivia... Elvis Presley once owned one of these ones. 

Another thing that you can’t not mention is the racing pedigree of the name, in fact the first true Ferrari road car was produced in 1948, Enzo designed and built his first race cars in 1940, the Auto Avio Costruzioni 815. Enzo then founded Ferrari S.p.A. in 1947 and began to build racing cars carrying his name. The road cars only came about to fund his racing. Some of the biggest names have driven for Ferrari, in F1 it seems a badge of honour to have driven for Ferrari. Over the last few years however I have been to many of the GT races where the cars you see on the road are driven in anger on the track. Seeing these cars really doing what they are capable of is just awesome. 

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

I finally realised a dream in 2012 and got my first ride in a Ferrari, and even more special it was with me behind the wheel, on a race track. This was a 40th birthday present from my family. A trip to the now disused Rockingham. The Ferrari was a 360. One of the big things that was very Ferrari thru the years was the classic look of the gear change. That open metal plate with the gear stick protruding thru. In fact I had read about how good the gearbox in the 360 was so was looking forward to driving it. But… it was not to be, the racing school ones were all the flappy paddle ones. I asked the instructor about this and he agreed the manual was a wonderful experience on the 360, it was not suited to a race school where its just one more thing for the drivers to worry about and would likely mean an expensive time for the cars with crunching gears and riding clutches. Yeah that made sense to me. But whoa… how cool was this car! The first couple of laps were sighting laps with the instructor seeing what I could do and how well I listened to what he was telling me. Then he let me loose, what a chance to see what these cars could do. Every single moment relished with a huge smile on my face. Hearing the V8 screaming behind me and feeling the sheer grip thru the corners, the smile increased every time I was told to pass the car in front, Aston Martin be gone, Lambo step aside this Ferrari is on a mission. This was a great day! As you can see in the pics below the helmet was struggling to contain my smile. (ah the days where it was only stubble on my face)

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

Ferrari has gone on to produce some incredible cars, even a 4x4! The styling and performance so fitting of the name and the history. But the era described above is my favourite one, with some great memories of reading about the cars and then seeing them when I would go to the annual motor show at Earls Court in London with my dad and my brother. Walking around collection all the brochures from the various stands (I wonder if they are still in the loft at the parents house). But when you got to the Ferrari stand there was a rope barrier around the cars, you could look but not touch, this added to the aura of the cars, so near and yet so far… Things like this seen thru the eyes of a 10 year old, and then when you compare them to the other cars on the road at the time was just eye bulging WOW. Compare this to the figures in the cars around today and the speeds and power can be achieved by a family saloon car, but just without the added WOW. This is saved for the Super and Hyper cars which are now on a different planet when it comes to the performance.

While the pandemic this year appears to have shown the red card to the spectators attending races, and car show after car show being cancelled I am looking forward to getting these stunning cars back into my view finder. What I love about taking photos of these stunning cars is there is so much to take in. It's awesome to get the full car in, an nice 3/4 view showing the curves and the lines. But there are also so many little details, the air intakes, the lights, the exhausts, the badges, the wheels... All these little bits need isolated and captured as they are all works of art, art that a designer and engineer has worked on, then its gone to the guys and girls who then turn the drawings and models into the real item. One thing I have learnt with photography is to really look as something, whether that's a landscape, a pet, a person or a car. The harder and more you look, the more you see. Like looking at the air intake lines, then you see the intricate grid. Or you are looking a the lines from the rear of the car, and you see the carbon fibre diffuser. the way the body follows the lines of the trademark rear lights. The bonus of this is it just gives you more time to walk around the car taking everything in. As with all photography its about using the light, with cars where you cant control the light its all about getting yourself in the right position so that the light  falls perfectly on those curves and shapes to show the true beauty of them.

Oh, and if anyone reading this knows someone with a 288 GTO… well you know what to do!

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo