Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS:
Wiper Blades

July 24, 2013 Comments (2)

For Want of a Blade a Horse Was Almost Lost

I bought the WASRED 308 in Chicago and drove it 850 miles to Boston in a day and a half. The spare wheel and tire were in the passenger seat, it had a slow leaking front tire, an expired Texas vanity plate that didn't belong to me and a non functioning radio. Ah! But I was driving a Ferrari! And the combined fear of speeding in a strange car, heightened by the anticipation of being caught and then having to explain my total lack of proper documentation was intoxicating. Life on the edge. I loved every minute of it. 

Once I had driven the car for a few days, I realized I didn't have an Owner’s Manual and I had questions that it might address. My local Ferrari dealer seemed the logical place to find a manual and some answers. As I introduced myself to the parts man, I saw tears well in his eyes. I proudly spoke of my recent purchase, confessed my complete ignorance of all things Ferrari, told him how much I had in the bank and that I counted on his assistance to fill the list of parts that I gave him. He hugged me and kissed my hand before I left. I could tell that God hadn’t sent him an idiot like me for a long time.

On a warm sunny day, Targa top safely stowed, there is nothing more exhilarating than driving a 308 with the carburetor intake sound in your right ear and the mechanical engine and transmission sound coming in over your left shoulder and the Ansa exhaust bludgeoning them both. And all that happened at 40MPH in second gear! I remember cruising back to Boston alone from Lime Rock late on a warm summer’s night with all this and the Eagles and Steely Dan competing for my attention at 90 – 100 MPH for very long stretches. Bliss… like slow dancing with a strong woman.

However, on a cold rainy night, on a two lane road, when the defroster isn’t working, rain is leaking in on your now quiet passenger, the headlights useless, people are going by you honking their horns, and the wipers are smearing road grime across where you think the road might be, a Camry seems like a good idea—a suggestion that may have come from the passenger seat… several times. That was before things got wet and quiet. Strong women can be hell at times.

308 Wiper Blades

A note about wiper blades: Several years ago, in preparation for one if my trips to Amelia Island in Florida, I installed a set of newer-design wiper blades. I believe they were Bosch units. Instead of the conventional light spring blade with holes along the arching support, this was the single solid unit plastic blade with a rubber contact insert. Though they looked different, in light rain they seemed to work fine. On the way back, on Rte. 95, at night, in a heavy rainstorm, a side gust of wind ripped the whole arm off the driver's side. That was exciting! It broke at the base and I could have stopped to look for it but I would have been killed. The arm was probably 30 years old and who really knows what shape it was in, but it did cause me to think that maybe these newer style blades, with a design that doesn’t permit air to flow through them, put undue stress on the arm. 

The 308 wiper system is hardly the equivalent of the systems on newer cars but I have found that it works well enough. I bought a used wiper arm from Fred Petroske at Mostly British in Chaumont NY, returned to conventional styled blades, and all is well.


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Comments (2)

  1. Middleton O'Malley:
    Jun 25, 2013 at 09:14 PM

    There are elements of your scofflaw behavior that I strongly endorse, and the acquisition of an elderly sports car simply for the thrill of owning something not too sophisticated and mildly problematical is also a choice I'd make. But to take along a passenger with a proclivity to whine when things get real is not in my book. Just say no.

  2. Peter Bourassa:
    Jul 09, 2013 at 06:58 PM

    There is no question in my mind that your comments offer the writer an opportunity to bask in the noble light of bravery, humility and manliness which shines on vintage owners of equally vintage automobiles. However, I eschew the opportunity. Truth be known, we are far more comfortable in older vehicles whose electrical, heat, fuel and brakes systems desert us under pressure than in their current progeny whose limits we can never understand, let alone reach, and who keep us awake by tinkling bells in our ears and vibrating our bums. Drive an MG-TD at thirty miles an hour at night, on a dark country road in a pouring to experience why caffeine is hardly needed here. If you don't drown you will never confuse fear fear for bravery. As for passengers, they come in all stripes. All that ride with a man my age in a 308 on that same road at 50 mph are totally lacking in imagination. I like fast old sports cars, not because they are "not to sophisticated and mildly problematic" but because they are cheap to buy and we can both reach the limits of our abilities at about the same time. Everybody understands a TR3 abandoned by the side of the road and sympathizes. A deserted Audi simply means some idiot ran out of gas.


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