Garagista: Ferrari Dino 308 GT4

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SMDG director Jack Moody on an Italian talisman that was converted to racing spec before being restored for the road

We’ve had a long association with this particular 308 GT4. It first came to us as a standard road car about 10 years ago, to be turned into a racer for the owner to compete in the Maranello Ferrari Challenge in the UK. It returned at the beginning of 2017 for another major overhaul to enable it to take part in regularity rallies, so it’s a car that we have kept evolving over the years. 

The Ferrari had to be a bit more user-friendly because it was going to be used on the road again, although it still has the weld-in cage we put in many moons ago. It now has two seats and a custom-made interior that we designed for the owner. Inside it’s now a bit like one of the Scuderia Ferraris or a Porsche 911 GT3-RS, half road car and half competition car, with all the rally trips and the like. 

We’ve brought the inside of a car built in 1978 up to date rather than going back to the period tan trim. It now matches the twin Recaro bucket seats that we’ve put in. We went for a ‘school-trouser’ grey that was used on the Ferrari F40. It still has the original fibreglass door cards, but we’ve recovered them, smoothed out the door pockets and put in fabric door-pulls. 

The seats are now on runners, which required a bit of work to ensure taller drivers had enough headroom. That meant fabricating new sections of the floor and seat braces.

The car raced with a standard engine, but we’ve now uprated it to 290bhp. The three-litre Dino V8 was meant to have 240bhp when it left the factory, but in truth probably never had more than 220 as standard. We’ve given the car the power it should have had in the first place. 

The V8 now has rally cams, high-compression pistons and lightened internals. The engine has just been back with us after encountering a problem on an event last summer. The Dino has sodium-filled exhaust valves and they rot from the inside out. It dropped a valve and pretty much destroyed a combustion chamber. We’ve just re-jetted the carburettors to make it a more useable on the road. 

A lot of work went into the Dino over a four- or five-month period. It’s a cool little car with its own story.

Current projects
1966 Ferrari 275 GTB

The first car to go through our new body- and paint- shop, this 1966 Ferrari has gone from red to black and we have also retrimmed it. Status: Awaiting chrome work to complete the job.

1973 Maserati Merak

All the major work has now been completed on a ground-up restoration of a 1973 Merak. Status: Two or three months from completion.