Join Date: Aug 2007
Ferrari Life Posts: 1,130
Driving impressions: 308 GTSi
During my recent Christmas holidays in Johannesburg, I enjoyed a week of driving through the leafy suburbs in the sun in Mike "Robin Masters" Schumacher's lovely 1981 308 GTSi, German spec (lhd and mesh in the side scoops). For me, this is the best time of the year to visit Johannesburg: no traffic with many people away at the coast for the holidays, hot sunny days with evenings cooled down by the famous Highveld thunderstorms that happened most afternoons like clockwork and lush greenery from the Summer rainfall. This was all amplified by Mike's generosity in letting me loose in his superb 308. The targa stop stayed stowed behind my seat all the time save for the afternoon when I collected the car from Mike and the rain came. Mike's instructions were simple-once warm, "give her horns to 7000rpm!"
Firstly the GTSi felt very together with no rattles and no buffeting at her happy cruising speed of 140-150km/h. Car felt stiffer with less buffeting than 911 Targa's of the same era. A really good design and execution of the targa top concept. Bit of squeaking with the roof on, although remained water free, all the more reason to keep the top off. Also so much better looking with top off. In fact the lines are sensational. As one hardly ever sees a 308 these days, one can really enjoy how beautiful the lines are without being dulled by the 308 being a fairly common sight on the roads and on the televsion screens. The views of her parked in my parents' garage and from the driver's seat grew more and more beautiful.
Talking of driver's seat, it felt a lot different to the Michalone. One felt that the seat was harder and narrower than that of the Michalone leading one to sit on the seat rather than in it. Two very nice details are the way the gear lever fell to hand, it is slightly longer than the early 308's but makes a big difference. Secondly, the clock and oil temperature gauges have been relocated to the centre behind the gear lever. Not only are they more readable than the earlier cars, but there is now a useful glove holder to the left of the steering column where these gauges used to be.
Firing up was instant compared to the carb 308 and the motor remains smooth all the way to my self imposed rev limit of 6000rpm. Ride very good, handling the many bumpy back roads very well. No rattles and no scuttle shake. This is a car that is faster than it feels. Stronger below 3000 rpm than the carb 308 but then whereas the carb 308 comes on cam from 4000rpm and howls off into the distance, the GTSi is smoothly consistent all the way through. The carb 308 is fast and feels it. The GTSi is more of a cruiser being deceptively fast. Mike posed an interesting question, do I prefer the GTB or GTS body style? After a week of enjoying this lovely GTSi, the answer is fairly simple: for the faster and racier carb 308, I prefer the GTB. For cruising around in the smooth, easy starting injection 308, I would take the GTS body style. In fact living in a sunny place like Johannesburg, a 308GTSi would make a great daily driver, warming her up from home to the highway and then highway cruising to the office. After a hard day at work, top off and cruise home in the cool evening air. Much as Mike has been doing these past years. The GTB would be my weekend, backroad warrior and cross continental blaster. Much as I have been enjoying the Michalone these past years.
Here are a few pics of a memorable time in Johannesburg in the lovely 308 GTSi (the car pulled off the Magnum look far better than the driver). Thank you Mike for your kind generosity. What a way to end a fantastic 2011!
Current: 365BB, 550 bluebird and a few 911's
Past: 246gt, 512BB, 308 GTB "Michalone" and a few 911's