Undercover

Matt Peak’s 308 looks stock. It’s not, and a 485-hp 3.9-liter V8 is only part of the story.

June 8, 2017
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There’s something going on when it comes to fictional cops and private investigators with cool cars. Frank Bullitt’s grumbling green Mustang fastback, Jim Rockford’s gold Firebird, Thomas Magnum and his Ferrari 308 GTS, Theo Kojak’s brown ’74 Buick Regal…. Well, thankfully that last one didn’t catch on.

Matt Peak was one of many FORZA readers who got caught up in all the on-screen excitement. “I grew up idolizing Magnum, P.I., and the 308 was my dream car,” says the Los Angeles-based technology consultant. “My 2010 purchase of my ’85 308 GTS QV was a dream come true…until I started driving it.”

Also like many of us, particularly latter-day enthusiasts, Peak was lured in by the 308’s sinewy Pininfarina lines only to be let down by the car’s adequate, but not scintillating, performance. In this case, his new Prancing Horse also suffered from countless quality ills.

“I couldn’t go out on monthly drives with the Ferrari Club of America without something going wrong,” he recalls. “Oil leaks everywhere, the fuel pump went out, repeated overheating, and so forth. Even if the car was working okay, I’d face the normal headaches of 308 ownership—in particular, the costly timing-belt changes, haphazard electrical wiring, and lackluster acceleration, all of which took away from the experience.”

Peak also had trouble finding someone reliable to service the car. “A longtime Ferrari-owner friend recommended a shop with a ‘factory trained’ mechanic,” he says. “I took my car there for a couple of years before realizing the shoddy quality of work.”

As so often happens with cars that seem to have more problems than virtue, the owner was one day pushed over the edge and had to decide whether to simply dump the 308. “The final straw broke while, on a long drive with some fellow Ferrari owners, the head gasket blew, which would have required a costly rebuild,” says Peak. “I had been working with Nick’s Forza Ferrari on some minor upgrades and was impressed with the work and quality of the products, and knew they had a permanent solution for my reliability headaches. So instead of paying around $25,000 for a new stock engine with same design flaws, I opted for NFF’s solution of a hopped-up, race-quality engine build, along with a thorough re-engineering of much of the rest of the car.”

Also from Issue 159

  • 360 Spider with stick-shift
  • One-off 330 GTC
  • Daytona restoration
  • 333 SP
  • F1: Ferrari wins!
  • FORZA Tifosi Challenge: F430 to 458
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