Koenig's 305 b.h.p. Ferrari turbo
When your working day begins with a man from Munich parking a Ferrari apparently valued at £44,000 in front of the house, it is hard to grasp the motoring realities once more. When said gentleman then offers to let you drive the car on third party insurance cover only (not our normal practice, but unavoidable in this instance) and adds that it has been independently tested to the equivalent of 168 m.p.h., everyday tuning tests of turbocharged vehicles fade completely from the mind!
Willy Konig raced Ferraris, Abarths and Lola T70s throughout the sixties and is a former hillclimb champion, quitting serious competition in 1969. Konig's business is called Koenig not to anglicise it, but because there is a large German Ferrari dealer by the name of Konig that has no connection with this Munich-based performance company.
Since 1969 Konig has driven in occasional club races, cultivated a dazzling smile, sold his printing business and concentrated some 15 years of his life into "making Ferraris proper sport cars again. You know a 308 is not a real sports car when it is delivered?" From anyone other than this gently smiling Bavarian, and at any other time than the moment we had turned off the ignition after one of those most exhilarating drives of a lifetime, such comment would have seemed pure Teutonic arrogance.
Although Koenig was able to guide us around the red 308 Turbo (remember Ferrari actually make a 208 version of the GTB with turbocharging for the home market only), we were able to drive the car and price the parts for the British market because of the activities of Autosport & Design Ltd., Unit 5, Latimer Road, London W10. At those premises you will find one John Cannon who has had the initiative to teach himself German and import many of the top brands that complement the British market's apparently insatiable demand for German performance cars. Cannon lists products from the following companies: Zender (body panels); Lorinser and AMG for Mercedes performance parts; ATS, BBS and Centra wheels; Recaro seats; Momo steering wheels; VDO instruments and both Hella and Bosch electrical equipment. Better known for their sponsorship of the Zakspeed Capri, the D&W Autosport accessones company also supplies Cannon's West London company. The Koenig arrangement appears it he exclusive to Autosport and Design, but some British customers have visited Koenig's Mitterer Strasse D-8000 Munich 2 premises.
As we look over the car and what it cost, it should be remembered that Koenig offer an enormous variety of equipment — including a 450 b.h.p. kit and other appropriate modifications for the 512BB flat twelve — but that nobody in the Ferrari class can expect such performance parts to be anything other than expensive. That they should make the Ferrari a much crisper performer in chassis and straightline speed says a lot about Ferrari today compared with the days of front-engined 12s. Motor Sport were not offered a faster roadgoing Daytona, because such a kit was simply not necessary. If you tuned a Ferrari in the sixties it was because the car was intended to race...
Underneath all that swoopy and thoroughly extrovert bodywork (which I was assured was aerodynamically conceived, not just a styling whim) lies a simple Rayjay turbocharger feeding the production Bosch injection of a 308 GTBi. The installation is in association with the Austrian concern of Albert who fabricated the valve-actuated wastegate and much of the water injection that helps the engine live reliably at boost pressures between 0.6 and 0.8 bar. Other features of the £3,625 Ferrari Turbo engine a la Koenig after two years testing and development, include 7.2:1 Mahle pistons for the production 3-litre capacity, and revised engine timing from the DOHC layout. Alternative camshafts are available so that power can be up to 320 b.h.p. — i.e. over 100 b.h.p. per litre for a road car, a figure that "our" 305 b.h.p. version also exceeded of course.
The body panels from Koenig are all in heavy duty glassfibre (ironic in view of the 308's original coachwork being in that substance) and comprise items like wide rear wheel arches at £440; the wider side "running boards, or skirts if you prefer them so described", in at another £440, plus a £340 wrap around front spoiler and £400 for that twin pillar rear wing. The spoiler built into the body beneath and flared round to blend with the wheelarches costs £250, while the small roof spoiler is priced at £125. The door mirrors are also £125 and quite exquisitely crafted into the lines, if somewhat meagre in their glass area — an important factor when the large rear wing and £180 air box prevent anything more than an occasional glimpse of sky and tarmac to the rear!
The suspension is set very hard by road car standards and includes Konis made to Koenig's order in Holland as part of a ride height set a radical two inches lower than standard. New springs are a £300 item, as are the Konis — but this time I hope we are talking about sets! A sports clutch to contain an engine said to give more b.h.p. at 4,250 r.p.m. than the production (obsolete) two valve V8 did at 7,000 r.p.m. adds £725 to the bill: from the pictures it looks fit for use in a truck!
On the road
From figures gained by the German magazines — original copies of which were supplied at our request — and from two hours road and track driving, we came back thoroughly impressed that Koenig had achieved his aims. Whether his "Ferrari road racing car" is your cup of tea is a personal matter of course. First of all the car can hold its head up in Porsche company, which hasn't always been the case in recent years (the new four valve per cylinder layout for the eights in production today has hopefully overcome such embarrassment). The acceleration is stunning, and we say that after a week spent splashing around the RAC Rally in the Audi Quattro, and a year that has included driving a Ferrari 512S sports racer of some 600 b.h.p. A comparatively high compression and high boost pressures allowed by the water injection placed after the turbocharger produce proper Ferrari alacrity in response to the throttle. The only "turbo lag" is that you're either hanging momentarily back at the pace of a normal 308, or the car is surging forward to prove it can race from rest to 124 m.p.h. in under 20 sec., which is about the time it takes an otherwise respectable performance car to reach 100 m.p.h. The magic 100 m.p.h. mark is engulfed in some 12 sec. glorious acceleration, 0-62 m.p.h. occupying a mere 5.3 sec.
We were allowed 8,000 r.p.m., a few hundred up on the production 90° V8 and the result was such a constant belt in the back that it was not until changing from third to fourth, and thence to fifth, that the acceleration loads which make smooth gear selection difficult, started to fade away.
Around Thames Valley villages the car felt wide on a combination of LHD and restricted vision. Yet the engine never gave any cause for alarm. It ticked over evenly and was ready to kick that outrageous bodywork forward with immediate ferocity once the de-restriction signs had meandered into view. At Goodwood the previous day the Ferrari turbo had survived the attentions of the press and a rally driver, running so readily to 230 km./h. (143 m.p.h.) in fifth that I would have suspected it had come straight from a race preparation shop rather than a background of regular road use for the past 25,000 miles.
Snags? Yes, Koenig have taken the sporty theme too far in respect of the ride (it was beginning to patter into momentary flight over the M40's block construction!), but the replacement brake pads and standard steering are excellent in this faster Ferrari. Personally I find the body panels a bit "over the top" with those side scoops and air boxes atop the engine cover, plus that obstructive rear wing — but the mirrors, larger front spoiler and bodywork extensions would be perfectly acceptable as working accessories with such large wheels and tyres fitted. Stability is good in the crosswind sense, but the wide tyres naturally like to follow road cambers wherever possible.
Overall the snags were outweighed by sheer exhilaration in driving such a "Super Ferrari". The unique blend of turbine whine and Ferrari melody will live a long time in my memory, beside equally warm recollections of the prompt response to the accelerator. A modern Ferrari that begs for the most to be made of its modified engine, handling and braking abilities. — J.W.