Ferrari 308GT/4 Bumpers

A Ferrari 308GT/4 came back to my shop for some work over this winter. The new owner just got this car, but since he purchased it he’s really enjoyed the car, and now has list of “to-dos” while the snow is flying outside!

This 308 is a US spec car, and one of the big differences in the 70s between US spec cars and the cars built for the European market in the 70s was the 5mph crash bumpers. The US Department of Transportation required manufacturers meet certain American Standard in emissions, heights, and crash worthiness, and many small manufacturers struggled to meet these rules. The result were crude modifications to European spec cars making the American versions look different. The most obvious was the bumpers. Early modifications were easily removable, but as the rules were harder to avoid, permanent changes were made that were very hard to revert to the slimmer, European bumpers.

This 308GT/4’s rear bumper stuck out a few inches out further than the European spec, and were mounted on collapsible pistons that were to designed to absorb a 5mph crash without damage, but the look leaves a lot to be desired.

These shocks were mounted in a small compartment below the trunk and I looked into getting them out and collapsed.

The shocks are filled with fluid and air under pressure, and drilling through each cylinder would release the pressure and allow the shock to compress. The trick was to depressurize the air first before the fluid section of the shock otherwise you’ll get a face full of spraying fluid. Ask me how I know?

You can see the amount you can tuck the bumper is significant. Even though we effectively removed some of the impact absorption, the owner was willing to trade some of this with less obvious bumpers.

With the shortened shocks mounted, the bumper is much closer to the bodywork at nearly 3 inches. The old distance had the rear edge of the bumper past the bodywork.

With the end cap installed, it looks much nicer. The front front bumper is next!