Ferrari 308GT/4: Looking for Clues

I’ve been sorting a Ferrari 308GT/4 at my shop getting it ready for the new owner to pick up. We bought this car from Milestone Motors in Florida but there was very little history on the car.

The odometer showed 36K miles and I was trying to determine if this car had 36K original miles or had the odometer rolled over and the car actually had 136K miles?

Looking a clues on the car, I started with the paint. I could see this car had a “mask and spray” paint job sometime in its past meaning much of the car was masked and not disassembled to paint the car from a light blue to a darker blue. The evidence shows this was an older paint job, and the old mask lines are showing through.

At first glance the interior looked original and in decent shape. There were no wear marks or tears in the leather, but some of it was a little dry and needed some moisturizing.

On closer inspection, I found some of the surfaces not matching even though the color match was pretty good. I could see the old leather showing micro cracking on the surface while the newer pieces were of a slightly different grain and suppleness.

I wish I could find out who did this repair and hire him for my next interior repair. They managed to find perfect match to the original color, expertly disassembled the seat, removed the old panels, and stitched in the new panels and pleats. Upholsterers often make these types of repairs and then dye the rest of the seat to match. Depending on the amount of dye used, the seats often look “painted” with a thick layer of dye destroying the translucency of the original color.

In the 70s and 80s, the quality of the Connelly Leather was pretty bad. It was spray dyed, so the color of leather was only on the surface of the hide. Areas that showed a lot of rubbing often took off the color, and exposed the natural color underneath as we see here on the door arm rest. Unless an upholsterer managed to get the same crappy leather to cover this door panel, it’s really hard to mimic this wear!

Another clue to the mileage of this car was the turn signal stalks. These often break with age and use, and many people don’t want to spend the $1000 or more to repair the damage to rebuild this stalk, so all sorts of repairs from glue to tie wraps are used to hold things together. These stalks were perfect.

The vinyl dash on this car was perfect, and it doesn’t take much sun to dry out and crack this area. Even with 36K miles, think about how much sun exposure there is when driving this car on nice sunny days. What about 130K miles of exposure? Either way, this dash was perfect.

The trunk carpet has a very specific pattern and showed just enough staining and wear for what I believe is 36K worth of age. The heat cycling from the exhaust on the other side of this compartment makes the glue fail over time, and this carpet was still largely intact.

The biggest clue to the mileage on this car was in the fuse panel. As far as I know, original fuse blocks are not available for this car. The Birdman makes replacement fuse blocks, but the original covers don’t fit over the Birdman’s units.

The reason there is a popular upgraded fuse panel is because there is a design flaw on the original fuse blocks. FIAT ownership of Ferrari must have instituted a cheaper way of manufacturing these fuse panels by riveting the junction blocks together. Over time, the heat, and moisture allowed this rivet to loosen and arc across this junction. The arcing would oxidize the connection and cause more resistance. More resistance would cause more heat. More heat would cause more loosening and you eventually have an overheated, non functioning fuse junction block. The area to see this happening would be at high draw fuses like the radiator cooling fans or headlight fuses. The more these cars are driven, the more these junctions are used, and more melting will be present. The fuse blocks on this car were shiny and new, nearly impossible to have 130K miles and more likely 36K mile.

How to keep this junction block looking this nice and clean? Inspect the fuse panel often, and spray with contact oil to keep the junctions clean and free of oxidation. Rotate the fuses in their holders to clean off any corrosion at their connection to the spring holder. Make sure your cooling system is operating properly, and the motors are not drawing too much current from worn out motors. Consider relaying high draw items in the electrical system to avoid overtaxing the fuse buss.