MAKING A TALL DRIVER FIT A 328 gts - Ferrari Life
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post #1 of 8 Old 12-13-2013, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Monterey, California
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Hi, all. I just purchased an '86 328 GTS. Rossa corso/tan. Very beautiful car, made for Italian (or even British...?) midgets of course. I haven't bought a 246 Dino because I couldn't afford a new one back when (meaning when I was young) and I sure can't afford one now. The 328 I CAN afford. Of course I fit in the 246 OK but the 328 seems to have shrunk. Arrrgh! Yes, I know Mr. Selleck drove one but with the targa roof off. I want to redo the one I just bought and have the targa roof on as well... I'm 6'-4", like Mr. Selleck. I miss fitting by about 1 1/2" (about 4 cm) and so here are a couple of ideas I've got: (1) replace the seat with a custom one, made to fit the seat well, with about 1" + maximum thickness on the bottom & rear, including shell thickness. This will give me maybe 2"~ 2 1/2" in height room, and around 1 1/2" leg room. Next, if that's not enough: revise the targa roof with less padding, which will give about 1/2" more. Last... create a pair of low "bubbles" on the targa roof meaning redoing the steel top completely), centered on the seat positions of driver & passenger, maybe 1"`1 1/2" high at the rear at most (would look like small versions of the main "bubble" on the bonnet of an E-Type Jaguar-), ending in squared-off terminations per "bubble"at the rear of the targa roof. Of course it would give a different appearance with the roof on and who knows most likely a slightly reduced aerodynamic profile BUT I have no intention of driving it like an idiot much over 100 MPH anyway, probably not much over 70 (on the freeway) for that matter.

Anyone wish to comment (please, no leading questions like "why didn't I buy a car that really fits me"?) Experience with such ideas, good or not so good, especially welcome!

Other cars I have that fit well, too.. (ha, ha)

"66 E-Type Coupe
'59 Morgan +4
'35 MG PA
'60 S2 Land Rover 88
'66 S2A Land Rover 109/110
'52 M38 Willys military Jeep

-notice a theme, here...?


Rich S.
Monterey, California
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post #2 of 8 Old 12-13-2013, 03:11 PM
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you might be able to get something out of the tracks too. i wouldn't mess with the padding in the top for 1/2". I am 6'1" and with the top on(rarely), i let my seat back down a little so i am in a slightly more reclined position. this lowers my head an inch or two.

Zagato is famous for the "double bubble" and the single bubble is called a "gurney bubble".

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post #3 of 8 Old 12-13-2013, 07:08 PM
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From Magnum Mania! - The Ferrari :
"The padding was removed from the seats so he would sit lower in the car, and the seats were bolted as far away from the steering wheel as possible to maximize the leg room."

Can you ditch the seat rails and bolt them to the floor? You could get try to find saratoga top too ($$$).

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post #4 of 8 Old 12-13-2013, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
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Hi, thank you both for the responses. Yes, I'm familiar with the "double bubble"; I don't claim it as an original idea, just a solution to my problem, if needed. Modifying the seats (no rails, less padding) won't give enough headroom, sadly. As for removing the padding in the top I'd manufacture a new roof panel using the clamping hardware, so as to preserve the original targa top for someone else. Not that difficult to make a new panel with a lot more headroom, speaking of course in adding only a few centimeters, just enough to fit. Might mention that the steering column & wheel can be raised about 1/2" or so, too...a bit here, a bit there, soon enough I'll be able to fit! And...what is a Saratoga top?

Cheers, Rich S.
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post #5 of 8 Old 12-14-2013, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Rich S View Post
..what is a Saratoga top?
It's an aftermarket glass top for 308/328s, no longer in production, apparently they add some headroom too. Rare and expensive, prices have recently skyrocketed.

They show up on eBay now and then: ferrari saratoga top | eBay
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post #6 of 8 Old 12-15-2013, 09:32 AM Thread Starter
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OK, I found the data for "Saratoga Tops".... pricey is an understatement! Next question: is there an easy solution to the seat question... does anyone know of a thin-shell type lightly padded seat that will substantially reduce the space the normal seat takes, meaning is there a commercially-available replacement seat that when fitted would give added headroom, etc.? The ones I find on the internet all have high-sided padded "bolsters" meant to keep the driver from sliding back & forth, but from looking at them they'd also make it more difficult to climb into the car, due the the higher side bolsters/padding. If none is available (at a reasonable price) I'll just have to make my own, but not if such a seat is available for sale. The maximum width of the seat is limited to 17", but 16" would be OK as well, if anyone has such data. I WILL drive the car, even if I have to sit on (thin) pillows alone!!!

Thanks for the responses-

Cheers, Rich S.
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post #7 of 8 Old 01-22-2014, 05:26 PM
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Hi, I'm 6'3" tall and 190 lb.

I own a 1987 GTS 328 and it can be difficult. I usually wear some comfortable, slightly baggy pants and kinda point my knees to the side which sounds funny at first but it's actually pretty comfortable. I also where my cheap little neoporone shoes which gives an extra inch. I didn't realize how small the 328 really was until I was in the Pasadena Ferrari show and it was about the smallest. What I think is worse is the width of the seats and the wheel well can push your feet in. Good Luck
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post #8 of 8 Old 01-27-2014, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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tall driver in a 328

Well, thanks for the reply, but luck has nothing to do with it. Only effort. At this point I've constructed the seat bottoms, and am working on the seat backs, but so far the new seats (that use the original mounting and slide rails) have taken me from having my head stick out above the targa roof line (while sitting in the original seats) by about 1 1/2", to now having about 1 1/4" of clear space when seated in the car with the targa roof on. That includes foam seat padding, of course. As for the fairly narrow original seats, the real problem is the too-deep contour and incredibly stiff foam padding- very uncomfortable, for me anyway. As posted above, I'm now (at my age) 6'-4" tall, with my height being in my torso more than in my legs. So- by making the seat contour shallower, and changing the padding to something considerably less stiff I find the new seats much more acceptable than the original ones. The real secret on gaining headroom (and legroom) isn't only making the seat frame lower, but setting the new seats much farther back, using all the space formerly reserved for the targa roof panel behind the seats. This means using a fairly unusual method of attaching the seat bottom and seat back to go around the small shelf at the bottom of the rear bulkhead, but I do have a solution. Anyway it can be done and I'm doing it!

So far I've built 3 differently designed prototype seats, and the last one seems to work, though it isn't finished yet. Materials used are sheet metal, hardwood plywood and solid wood to make shaped contours. The seat rake angle will be fixed, more or less matching the angle of the rear bulkhead, which seems to be very comfortable for driving. Lumbar support and a fixed, padded headrest will be included.

Since I'm retaining the original seat slides, if need be the seat can be moved forward so that the targa panel can still be placed behind the seats, which will reduce headroom a bit but not as much as with the original seats. And of course since the targa panel will be off the roof headroom isn't particularly important anyway.

As for final upholstery it'll be done to match the rest of the interior, and in a pattern similar to the original seats, in good quality leather.

I trust that this may pique your curiosity; I'll update this as work progresses. So, if there any taller drivers out there, especially ones who'd like a 328 that they can drive comfortably (or else already have one!) I'm making patterns of my new seats, and taking photos.

BTW I note that the earlier 308 has a center-console mounted handbrake, somewhat less in the way than the strangely-placed 328 version next to the door. This may or may not mean that the seat is a bit different than in the 328, but not having a 308 to compare seats with I don't know. Also I've read that the floor pan is a bit lower in the 308, resulting in slightly more headroom, but again I really don't know.

Overall I thought Porsche's targa roof idea was good, but the funny handbrake as used on the 914 wasn't. Oh well.

Comments on these points (regarding the 308 differences) are welcome of course.

Cheers, all- Rich
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