The Classic Ferrari That Got Away

We Buy Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches

We received a call from the assistant of a woman who wanted to sell her 1982 Classic Ferrari 308-GTSi. He explained to me that he would be making all the arrangements but that she would be present when it came time to inspect the car and hopefully buy it.

My first question is that I always ask the seller about the story of the car. Where did you get it and how long have you had it? In this case it was relayed to me that her husband, who is deceased now for a few years, bought it when it was a year old. Because she is eighty years old she no longer drives it and wants to sell it.

The next question is that I ask about the condition of the car and do they mind sending me a few pictures to either my cel phone or email. The pictures they sent were not great. The car was wedged tight into the garage and the lighting was poor. But I could determine that car was Ferrari red with tan interior which is the classic Ferrari color combination.

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According to the assistant it had 43K miles on it. It also looked to be in pretty decent shape and the paint looked like it had the possibility of being quite nice. Furthermore, he also assured me that she had a title in hand and that she had service records for the car which is crucial when paying top money for a classic Ferrari.

So far I have gotten some pretty good information. It was a 1982 car bought in 1983 right here in Southern California. This tells me that it has a very good chance of being 100% rust free. This is a big deal when we purchase any classic car.

Furthermore, this Classic Ferrari was a very expensive car when they bought it so chances are good that it was maintained well. Service records on any Ferrari are a huge deal and the assistant relayed to me that she had them.

This was a Classic Ferrari I was interested in buying. He also told me what she wanted for the car. It was not outrageous but definitely in the higher range of what I wanted to pay and I was confident I could negotiate a lower price. In my mind I was already lining up a European buyer for this car.

The Ferrari 308 was introduced in 1975 and was the replacement for the Dino and shared the same platform and mid-engine mounted V8. Even though the V8 308 series were no match for the earlier and more valuable V-12s, they were certainly the most recognizable classic Ferrari.

This is mainly because of the great exposure the marque had as the star of the hit TV series Magnum PI. In every episode Tom Seleck could seen dashing around Hawaii in the blazing red Ferrari. As a result it created a new legion of admirers and American buyers.

We made an appointment for the next day. The address was a very exclusive area high atop Beverly Hills. It was an upwards, winding road with many sharp turns. Plus, it was pouring rain! But, buying a classic Ferrari is what we do here at Dennis Buys Classic Cars so I was up for an adventure.

When we pulled in the driveway the garage door was open and the red car could be seen clearly. We took a quick glance as we approached the door and it looked pretty good. In a situation like this it is always a good idea to find the owner first before you start inspecting the car so we went directly to the front door.

After ringing the doorbell we were first greeted by the young assistant. The fellow was in his twenties and spoke with an accent that was difficult to place. He was very reserved and formal as well as being overdressed for the occasion and was in all black. He looked like an extra in a Young Vampire movie.

The young man asked us to wait outside and soon the eighty year old widow and her son emerged. Her manner was all business and in contrast the son was friendly and gregarious.

The first thing I noticed was that someone had painted the car at some point. This is a major deal because they repaint was done for a reason. Was it simply faded from the sun? Or was it hiding the fact that it had been in an accident which may have caused damage to the vey expensive tubular framing.

Normal wear and tear had caused cracking on the clutch and brake pedal pads. The leather was a bit tired looking. Upon further inspection there was a considerable oil leak somewhere and the underside of the engine has considerable seepage. The indicated 44K mileage may have been correct but this was definitely a car that was not babied.

Were encountering one red flag after another and matters did not improve when we finally started it. It fired right up but was smoking badly. This was a sick Ferrari that needed a complete engine rebuild which would cost upwards of twenty thousand dollars. The negatives were adding up and now it was time to approach the widow with an offer.

Our host was not the slightest bit impressed by our knowledge of these cars and the inventory of imperfections that we presented to her. The price she was asking was a high retail price equivalent to a what a perfect example might go for and she stood firm. No deal was made but a happy ending was close at hand.

When we were leaving I noticed a vintage, 70’s orange Motobecane Mobylette moped leaning against the wall of the garage. It only had 65 miles on the odometer. She had bought it for her husband in 1977 and it has been against that wall since. He drive it for about a week and hated it according to her son. I asked her what she wanted for it. “A hundred bucks!” she said. “I’ll take it!”




Classic Ferrari