MMR Blog

Seminars at Amelia

Posted on March 19, 2013 Comments (0)

Part of the Amelia joy has to be the multiple seminars. This year’s Corvette, Porsche, and the feature GT40 seminars were all outstanding.

The Corvette seminar celebrated the 50th ground breaking design of the 63 Corvette Split-Window Stingray. In context, before its advent, the 61/62 Jaguar XKE had taken all the air out of the room. Corvette’s exciting new design offered new technical and design features that got Corvette back in the game. Members of the original design team dominated the panel and happily described the evolution of the new model. On the field, significant iterations of it were also celebrated.

Bill Warner, Peter Brock, Ed Welburn at Corvette Seminar, Amelia 2013

Bill Warner, Peter Brock, Ed Welburn at the Corvette Seminar, Amelia 2013

Ed Welburn, International Director of Design at GM introduced the C7 and shared the thinking behind the design. The significant question from the audience related to its most controversial aspect, the seeming design steal from the Camaro back end. Welburn explained that this was Corvette’s response to the fact that its sales were dropping, as its base was aging, and that it needed to find a way of appealing to a younger demographic. In surveys, the new Corvette’s edgier design was apparently very popular with younger buyers. (See our article on the C7 Corvette for our take on the new car and GM’s dilemma.)

The Porsche seminar was another genuflection to the brilliance of the 911 by the people most closely identified with its success. This rear view tribute to a long in the tooth design ignores the elephant in the room. More and more, the street is saying the Cayman is a far better car.

The Porsche Seminar, Amelia 2013

The GT40 seminar was billed as the top event and it didn’t disappoint. The beloved native hero, Dan Gurney was the unquestionable crowd favorite. Age and his recent accident made his accession to the speaker’s platform painful to watch. Once in place however, his cogent observations and pithy comments put lie to the thought that Dan Gurney is mentally less than he ever was.

GT40s at Amelia 2013

To me, one of the more interesting interchanges was cleverly engineered by moderator Tim Considine. After several less than positive comments about absent fellow driver Jacky Ickx, the moderator asked Gulf/ Wyer Team Manager and Engineer, John Horsman, who he believed was the best driver he ever managed and Horsman replied, without hesitation, Jacky Ickx. Putting point to his comment he cited the numbers at the end of the first lap of a rainy GT race at Spa when Ickx established a 38-second lead on the second place car. An incredible feat! When you think of that in terms of distance it is unbelievable.

The GT40 Seminar, Amelia 2013

The GT40, like all success stories had many fathers. Primarily, Wyer, Shelby and Holman-Moody.

Representatives from each team were on the podium and their stories of corporate infighting, conflicting instructions and the struggle at the highest levels of Ford management made for fascinating listening. If you haven’t yet, you must read John Horsman’s Racing in the Rain, recently reprinted by Bull Publishing with a new soft cover, it is not available on Amazon and sells for $29.95 from Bull Publishing. It is the GT40 book to own! Read about it in our Racemaker Book Reviews.


Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS:
Vinyl Top Begone!

Posted on March 19, 2013 Comments (0)

In 1995 I bought a 1978 308 GTS Euro spec Ferrari with a rebuilt engine and 13K miles on the long non-functioning odometer. It had had a serious accident on the right front corner. This is the sixth in a series of short articles about how we repaired and updated it.

This isn’t really an update. This is more like a cosmetic facelift.

I confess, despite owning a 308 GTS, the GTB is really my favorite 308. I think the line is better unbroken by the black vinyl square in the middle of the Targa top. But the black vinyl top does go well with slatted rear quarter windows. Of course, it isn’t quite as noticeable on a black car, but it is still there. And it is only there to protect the top from being scratched when it is stowed behind the seats.

308 with clear coat panel

Eight years ago when we repainted the car, I recalled seeing a black 308 in Montreal with a roof panel that was denuded of its vinyl and I really liked it. So we stripped off the vinyl, filled in the surface to the best of our ability and voila. Is it wavy? Yes. Is it prone to scratching? Yes. Does it look better? I think so. Now if I can just get a set of GTB rear quarter window setups, I’ll have the best of both worlds; the clean look of the GTB and a removable Targa top. Have whoever does the work ladle on the clear because you will be buffing it out often.

GTB top with GTS rear quarters


Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS:
Driver Ergonomics

Posted on March 15, 2013 Comments (0)

In 1995 I bought a 1978 308 GTS Euro spec Ferrari with a rebuilt engine and 13K miles on the long non-functioning odometer. It had had a serious accident on the right front corner. This is the fifth in a series of short articles about how we repaired and updated it.

At a certain age, comfort in a car is a luxury. A little further down the road, it becomes a necessity. While hardly what passes today for a luxury car, a 308 is surprisingly comfortable. This is primarily due to the ride itself and the way the car handles bumps and other road surface irregularities. The current style of sports car chassis and suspension accent chassis rigidity and cornering performance over the softer suspension of years past.

Having said that, to be comfortable ergonomically, the designer assumes that the driver is 5'8" tall and has an offset spine that happily accommodates the six inch right offset of the clutch-brake-gas pedal cluster in the footwell. The seat and steering wheel are perfectly aligned with the chassis. In the driver’s seated position, hands on the wheel, the left side foot rest is exactly where you might expect the clutch pedal to be. The six inch shift to the right is necessitated by the intrusion of the left front wheel well into the driver’s foot well. One could assume that on long trips this could be a pain in the back and one would be correct.

Upgrading a Ferrari 308 GTS

That is an issue we cannot do a thing about. Taller drivers will be pleased to learn however that the seat pushes back far enough to comfortably accommodate the outstretched legs of a six footer. At that point however, ones arms are outstretched and the leverage to turn large tires at slow speed is severely compromised. Operation of the foot pedals is not an issue once you adapt to the offset.

What to do about the ”too far” steering wheel? One thing I noticed immediately is that while the wheel is too far away from my shoulders, it is also too close to the dash binnacle. John Tirrell, of Independent Ferrari Service in South Easton, MA installed a solution that benefitted both of us. By adding a two piece quick release hub between the steering wheel and the steering shaft platform you add about 1.5 inches. Unfortunately the horn wiring does not go through the style of hub I chose, so we installed a new horn button under the dash. The amazing thing is how often you remove the steering wheel to do even the simplest chores around the driver’s area.

There are several types of quick release systems available and l am using the Elliptical Quick Release unit by OMP. I tried the Snap Off system. I couldn’t get the steering wheel to line up properly when the wheel was at top dead center. It was only off 3/8 of an inch but it drove me nuts.

Pricing goes from $40 to $440 dollars so you will need to do your own due diligence on this part.

Below are images of the two parts: one on the shaft and the other that attached to the wheel. Also a side view of the complete unit installed that gives you some idea of the space between the top of the wheel and the gauge binnacle.

308 Steering wheel quick release component

308 Steering wheel quick release component

Steering hub

Steering hub

Attached hub component

Attached hub component

Installed quick release

Installed quick release

All race supply houses have these units. Suppliers may be found in our Goods and Services Directory under Parts and Accessories: Safety Equipment.


Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS: Muffler Systems

Posted on March 7, 2013 Comments (0)

In 1995 I bought a 1978 308 GTS Euro spec Ferrari with a rebuilt engine and 13K miles on the long non-functioning odometer. It had had a serious accident on the right front corner. This is the fourth in a series of short articles about how we repaired and updated it.

Do you hear what I hear?!

Whether it is the first notes of a Beethoven symphony or the blipping of the throttle on a V-12 Ferrari engine, sound moves us all.

The exhaust sound is arguably the most frequently personalized aspect of performance car ownership.

Aftermarket tuner systems generally differentiate themselves from original equipment by offering improved materials, finishes and designs that are “tuned? to be less restrictive, more powerful and noticeably louder.

Late model automobiles are equipped with stainless steel exhaust systems. They have replaced the steel versions which were given to rusting. However, the two metals respond differently to sound. While stainless is unquestionable longer lasting, it does so at the expense of the more mellifluous tones produced by the softer mild steel which played such a huge role in creating the Ferrari V12 mystique. In today’s high revving and high performance V8s, stainless OE and most aftermarket systems produce a hollow, raspy sound, which has become the hallmark of high performance motors.

While working on my 308 throughout the winter I noticed that the paint was flaking off the main body of its Ansa Sport muffler, pronounced Awnsa, and I wondered what the next step might be. The thought of buying a new muffler simply because the existing one, though structurally fine, was unsightly, seemed wrong.

WASRED muffler

By chance, I was recently digging into the Bobileff Motorcar Company’s site to add them to the MMR Goods & Services Directory as a restorer. That’s when I noticed that they also offer other services and one of them is the ability to rebuild Ansa Exhaust systems. I called and spoke with Gary Bobileff. He is owner of the company and a concours judge, a vehicle appraiser, and a person who is respected in the sport. I posed my problem to him.

Gary informed me that his company refurbishes the steel Ansa units which were built to fit V12 Ferraris of an earlier period. (There is a slide show on the site showing how they repair a Daytona muffler.) I asked him why? “The reason that people have the older Ansa systems rebuilt to exacting original specs is the sound. When installing a stainless system on a Ferrari 275, or Daytona, the sound nearly disappears. By staying with mild steel, the sound resonates not only from the tail pipes, but the entire system. This creates that beautiful melody throughout the rev ranges. This music can only be truly appreciated with an original mild steel system!”

But what about mine? He explained that my muffler, like all Ansas for V8 Ferraris, is stainless steel and that his company doesn’t have the capacity to work on these units. Gary suggested that a local metal refinisher would probably be able to refresh its appearance with the application of a good high heat coating. That would solve my problem reasonably and inexpensively.

The MMR Goods and Services Directory, with the Specialty Services – Metal Coating and Refinishing filter checked, will lead you to a number of good people who can recoat your older Ansa Unit.

But if you need to have your older Ansa system replaced, consider having it refurbished with Bobileff Motorcars in San Diego. Good people doing good things.


Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS: Exhaust Headers

Posted on February 27, 2013 Comments (0)

In 1995 I bought a 1978 308 GTS Euro spec Ferrari with a rebuilt engine and 13K miles on the long non-functioning odometer. It had had a serious accident on the right front corner. This is the third in a series of short articles about how we repaired and updated it.

The Pipes, the Pipes Are Calling: Exhaust Headers

As a kid, headers and cherry bombs or Thrush Mufflers were essential parts of every street rod. Other than Corvettes, sports cars of the sixties were mostly English and mostly small four or six cylinder engines with cast iron manifolds. These manifolds never wore out and they only broke if you dropped them. “Headers”, as we now know them, were initially home made from exhaust tubing. They were popular because they were lighter and allowed the engine exhaust to be taken away more quickly and easily, making the engine more efficient. When I first laid eyes on my Ferrari engine, like any old hot-rodder, I looked for places where I might make improvements easily and inexpensively. One look at the stock exhaust and I realized that the low hanging fruit had been picked at the factory. While you might improve on parts of the ignition system, and possibly the mufflers, there really was nothing hanging off the engine that could easily be improved. After all, it did put out 250 HP from about 180 cubic inches. That’s pretty efficient.

308 GTS exhaust manifold

About a year into ownership of WASRED, the exhaust manifold at the back of the engine cracked where the four individual pipes from the head meet. I was informed that this is not uncommon. Faithful John Tirrell, at IFS, ordered a new one ($750 in ’96) and took the front one off also. Scott and Bob at N.E. Industrial Coatings Inc., in Worcester MA, had once powder coated some wheels for me. They understand coatings and performance products and they had a process of Flow Coating both the interior and exterior of the headers. Described as a ceramic sealant, it strengthened the header and allowed exhaust to flow more freely. They also seem quieter. Whatever this cost, it seems like a very small investment for improved performance and durability. There was a choice of shades of grey from silver to dark and I chose a dark grey which might turn a lighter color when warm.

They have now been on the car since April of 1996 and we have never had a spot of trouble with them.

The MMR Goods and Services Directory lists 18 companies that do some form of coating or plating. Choose the one nearest you and don’t forget our motto: No One Ever Regretted Buying Quality. And don’t forget to tell them that MMR sent you.

Next week we will deal with the second half of the system, mufflers.