Plastic Fantastic

With an eye toward track work, this fiberglass-bodied 308 received a period performance makeover.

June 2, 2011
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In the world of Ferrari 308s, a European-specification fiberglass-bodied dry-sump GTB is widely considered the most desirable. Its composite body is lighter than the later steel bodywork, and its carbureted 3-liter V8 engine produces 255 horsepower at a screaming 7,000 rpm.

This ’76 308 (s/n 19211) is one of those desirable Euro models. It arrived in the U.S. the year it was built, and its first owner was John LoGuercio of Rio Rancho, New Mexico. But neither LoGuercio nor Ferrari was responsible for the car’s center-lock BBS wheels and subtly flared fenders. Those changes are the work of a later owner, a Wisconsin dentist named Gordon Meffert.

In 1982, the Ferrari was sitting at a dealership in Albuquerque. That’s when Meffert spotted it in a magazine’s classified ads, and knew he had to have it. “It was exactly what I had been looking for,” he recalled. “It was a fiberglass car and it was dry sump.”

Meffert, the Sports Car Club of America’s Rookie of the Year in 1971, wanted to race a Ferrari, and the 308 looked like the perfect platform to work with. The fiberglass car reportedly weighed 200 pounds less than a steel equivalent, while the dry-sump oiling system would help prevent engine-oil starvation under severe cornering loads.

The stock Ferrari was just the beginning of what he had in mind, however. “I knew I was going to modify it even before I bought the car,” Meffert said, admitting that he had entertained larger ambitions for the project, including selling the aftermarket equipment he developed for it to other Ferrari owners. While the project never evolved into a commercially viable business, that doesn’t detract from what is still a very cool car.

Meffert started his modifications with the 308’s suspension. The original Koni shock absorbers were removed and sent off to be revalved. When the reworked shocks were installed, the car’s handling was actually worse than stock. The solution was to order directly from Ferrari a new set of shocks and springs, which, says Meffert, were intended only for “off road use.” The new components were stiffer than the originals, and Meffert said they transformed the 308, reducing body roll and significantly improving handling.

With the help of an automotive engineer who worked for General Motors, custom center-lock hubs were designed and fabricated to replace the stock five-lug hubs, a decision that Meffert revealed was made as much for aesthetic reasons as for performance and durability concerns. With conventional wheels no longer an option, a set of custom three-piece 16-inch alloys was ordered from BBS North America. Meffert also had brake specialist AP Racing design a custom setup that included larger calipers and rotors.

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