If you were a car racing fan in the 1980s two things really peaked your interest. First was Group C and the sleek prototypes that rules the racetracks around Europe and the world. But if you were a fan of more realistic cars, you loved the sights, sounds and smells of Group B - the World Rally Championship. Of course, Group B would come to be dominated by the revolutionary Quattro from Audi and later mid-engined silhouette cars from Lancia and Peugeot, but initially there were rear drive special versions of road cars that were spawned to conquer the dirt. From Mercedes-Benz came the lightened and powerful 450SLC 5.0 and planned 190E 2.3 Cosworth; Porsche attempted to race many variants of the 911, ultimately leading to the development of the 959, and from Fiat came some unlikely candidates; the mid-engined Stratos and Ferrari 308. Today, one of these unlikely rally cars is up for sale:
Chassis: F106AB *24783*
Engine: F106A021 *01070*
Odometer: 29,716kms (1,700kms since conversion)
In the late 1970s/ early 1980s, Antonio Zanini was the dominant force in Spanish rallying and as such he carried considerable weight within the national rally community. For the 1984 season, he considered Ferrari's 308 as an ideal weapon with which to claim the national crown once more and given that the championship was predominantly tarmac based it made logical sense as the 308 had already proved itself to be a force to be reckoned with on other tarmac events in both the WRC and ERC.
Zanini approached Barcelona Ferrari agent Fernando Serena for his support and he duly offered a 308 GTB from his dealer stock as the basis for building a Group B 308 rallycar. Zanini visited factory authorised tuner/ preparer Michelotto and a deal was agreed that meant that parts and build consultation would be provided by Michelotto and that the car would be built in the Serena workshops.
Unfortunately the car was not ready in time for the season opening round in Costa Blanca therefore a deal was struck with Italian team Pro Motor Sport to rent a Group B 308 from them instead. With further delays to the build of the Serena car and championship commanding success with Pro Motor Sport, an agreement was made to extend that partnership which led to Zanini winning the Championship before the season was over.
During this time the Sereba car was still being built and tested. However, on the 1984 running of the Rally Osona; the Serena-built 308 finally got its debut with Zanini behind the wheel and it secured a dominating victory showing the rest of the field a clean set of heels by exactly five minutes.
In the final round of the 1984 Spanish Championship at the Rally de Gerona the car was driven by Fernando Sereba Jr. (son of the Barcelona importer) but it retired after just one stage with a broken brake pipe. With Zanini contracted to Peugeot for 1985, the fresh. competitive and event-proven Serena was sadly sidelined for the 1985 season.
For the 1985 Raly Catalunya (then a round of the European Rally Championship, now part of the World Rally Championship) the car was entrusted to experienced, former Catalonian Champion Claudio Caba. After the first day, Caba was lying an impressive fifth overall, first two-wheel drive and top Spaniard in the event but on day two he got caught up in a smokescreen from the car ahead and slid off the road. Due to a combination of being somewhat secluded (no spectators to help push the car) and the low ride height of the 308 he was unable to complete the stage within the allotted time and was forced to retire despite no terminal damage being done to the car. Of note, when it competed in the Rally Catalunya it was run with Cimarron (a Spanish Jeans manufacturer) sponsorship and it was this design that was adopted by Scalextric as a livery for one of its most popular slot cars of the 1980s.
Then returned to Serena in Barcelona, it was never used in competition again thus with just 3 events under its belt it was set aside and retained by Francesco Serena. In the late 1980s it was sold to a Spanish businessman/ collector and it was purchased by the current owner directly from him.
What is particularly remarkable about this car is that every aspect relating to its history as a competition car is documented in period articles and a generous file has been amassed accordingly. Right from the early announcements and images of Zanini in Serena?s showroom through to mentions of the assistance from Michelotto (following Zanini?s visit to Italy) then on to the ?red Serena built car? not being ready in time and the need to rent a car from Pro Motor Sport. Furthermore and even more incredible is that the internal (within Serena) invoices relating to the parts costs and the labour sheets also survive and accompany the car. So rarely does such documentation survive but the detail is immense and when the car is inspected one can identify what is recorded noted.
Easily identified per the original homologation sheets, you can see a bevy of special Michelotto homologated parts such as;
Up-rated AP Lockheed brake system
Thicker anti-roll bars with revised mounting points
Quick ratio steering rack
Uprated, specially fabricated pedal box
Hinged, reverse fold rear deck lid (folds back onto roof)
Pleated velour lightweight Kevlar seats
Studded hubs and extra-light wheel nuts
Not so easily viewed but identified in the accompanying bills are;
Close ratio gearbox
Significantly uprated engine, dry sumped, on carbs but with 10:1 compression ratio pistons, ported heads, lightened flywheel, balanced crankshaft. (Magazine article quoted) c.280bhp.
Individual to this car by virtue of the fact that it was built ?remotely? of Michelotto are identifying features/ differences such as;
Zanini designed lamp pod mounted into the nose so not to obscure the driver?s vision
Fabrication of the roll cage, it is an interpretation of both homologated designs but not strictly either one
Fabricated areas at the tops of the rear upper chassis frame at the point where the roll cage joins (having come through the upper flanks of the body shell
Fabricated mounting points for the anti-roll bars
Central dashboard switch area
Felt covered interior where the original carpet/ headlining would have been
Fantastic-looking BRAID alloys (a Spanish wheel manufacturer), they are actually still in business and can produce more if required
All in all it is a simply amazing package, condition is completely original per participation in its last event. With such a straight-forward history and masses of supporting documentation it is a rare chance to acquire a 308 with period rally history and the fact that it was supported by Michelotto and undertaken by an official Ferrari main agent can only justify its significance. That it became the basis for a mass-produced Scalextric model makes it all the more familiar.
Presented in superb condition, it is also the beneficiary of a recent thorough refurb. Works include brake and suspension system rebuilds and an engine out service with new belts and a rebuilt ignition system. Available to view at The Phoenix Green Garage by appointment, it shall be offered with UK registration papers and one of the finest history files I have seen in a long time.
Often discarded after heavy use at a budget price in the early 1990s, these period rally machines have found new life in the vintage rally circuit, events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed and even club events. That's put increased demand on the pricing, especially for the best examples. Though this was a converted road car, its well documented history and current restored condition make this one of the best examples available. It's of course priced accordingly, though considerably cheaper than what a Stratos or 037 Lancia would demand. It's also lovely and unique to think of a Ferrari rally car, but for it's unusual history and development we're thankful!