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Hagerty Employee

$25K Project Dino: First drive, and a path for completion

I'm not proud of this, but when the Ferrari V-8 started for the first time, I felt a glee similar to when my kids were born. The engine-which hadn't run for 20 years-exhausted thick white smoke, the vestiges of a long slumber, and settled into a fast and smooth idle.

"This past spring editor-in-chief Larry Webster..." C'mon now, don't be mean, I bet he's young at heart.
Intermediate Driver

Count me in as watching this saga play out. I am in the middle of a similar "renovation" project and may pick up some ideas or inspiration from this one.

Also, as the old saying goes, misery truly loves company!
Pit Crew

Curious what color it will be painted, my vote is dark blue, for what it's worth.
Hagerty Employee

Right now, and this could change, I’m in agreement with you. I’m thinking a color called Blue Sera, which is darker than Royal blue, but not quite Navy. 


My long affair with my 944 ended with crashed valves. By the time this occurred, the problems with the car were mounting (rot holes in the unibody in uncomfortable locations, estimated 200+K miles...). I had replaced the timing belts maybe two years prior. There is a proper tensioner tool for the 944, but it is cost-prohibitive if you are only going to use it once, so I followed the sage advice of the interwebs and tightened it until I could get just barely a half turn on the long run. As soon as i started the car, it had a considerable whine, so I backed it of a scosh and left the top half of the timing cover off to keep an eye on things. I monitored things for a while and everything was copasetic, so I pretty much forgot about it. About two years later, I was idling into my parking spot at work and the car stalled. I attempted to restart to discover zero compression and a free-wheeling engine. Moral of the story... if there is a tool, and a 'guy' who knows how to set those belts up - use them. You have a lot more invested in yours than I had in mine
Intermediate Driver

I love that despite the apparent exotic-ness to the project, you seem to be having the same problems that anybody else does when they revive an old car. I guess they really are just cars...
Please keep us updated, I'm enjoying watching this play out

Having owned one of these suspicion is that once sorted, this car will provide many many miles and hours of driving entertainment.

One of the truest well balanced Ferrari's made, (ok, It's a Dino) I've had a few of these cars and I remember this one the <>most<> fondly, this 2+2 design needs no excuses nor concessions.

Factory gold with lobster red leather if you are asking.

I'll be interested to hear how 20 miles becomes 200.

BTW, those fans in the front, one of which you are missing? get them from XKE parts guys, exact same ones...
Pit Crew

So My Dad bought a GT4 back in the 80s. Was off lease and not treated well. Repainted not quite the true color (kind of too much Orange) He drove it for a few years and I believe one year it may have had a starting problem, Floods easy, could have been anything. The summer moved on other projects came along. Now we are in 2005, my Dad in his 80s, It is time to get the ol' girl running. So not to repeat your same article as above I drove from PA to NJ almost every weekend for the summer and into the winter. I got to be the 12 yr old son, It was hoses and gaskets, home made pully holder to do the belts, KONI shocks off to be rebuilt, (spring story to be told here ... I didn't get hurt) Carb rebuilds, Ball joints. WELL YOU KNOW how it goes. So today my Dad is 99 and the Ferrari (Yeah, DINO) sits in my garage still kind of too orange still won't idle right too fast or too slow for no reason I can figure out. I keep the gaskets (and floor) well oiled and drive it to work every few weeks. Sometimes I just go up into the PA mountains and hope for no police along the roads through the valleys.

Very interesting; keep forging.
New Driver

I've had my 308/GT4 for 37 years. It was love at first sight when I first saw it at the 1974 San Francisco Motor show. I and my sons (who are a few decades older than your son) just completed an engine-out refresh. There is always the risk of mission creep, but while you have that engine out you might want to consider pulling the heads, (which you can't do with the engine in place) and replacing the sodium-filled exhaust valves. Some failures and resulting engine destruction have been documented. I just couldn't live with the risk any more. Especially with 78,000 miles.

BTW: I you have a much-desired Euro version with the much prettier Euro bumpers. The USA version has really ugly second-thought stick-on bumpers that destroy the clean lines of the car. Wanna trade bumpers?

Getting closer. It's looking really good.
Pit Crew

I keep a box of booties near the door to the garage, the kind that slip over your shoes.
A lifesaver (mine), those are.
New Driver

As a Ferrari Warranty station before there was an FNA, we had problems with the sodium-filled exhaust valves, as well as cylinder liners cracking and leaking coolant. PLEASE! Pull the heads and replace those valves and check the liners, unless it's been documented that they were done.
The valves were an issue with Daytona's and C-4's, too! I'm retired now, but can still advise, if needed....
Kind regards,
Don Rudd
Pit Crew

@f101wrench how big of an issue is that really? I have a 1975 with 60k miles and no way to know if the valves have been replaced. I was quoted almost $15K to replace them. Hard to justify given the cost of the car and the fact that it has gone 60k miles without the work as far as I know.
Intermediate Driver

Keep going...can't wait to read this. I have a 308 GTS (Euro) similar cars to some extent.


I'm not a 'Ferrari' guy and really not a 'Dino' guy, but I have done many an engine out etc on a lot of old cars. I'm along with you for the ride. Looks like fun to me. "a quarter-mile into my first around-the-block excursion, when the GT4 sputtered, stalled, and coasted to a stop." For a moment there I thought you were working on a Mopar. 🙂
Oh, that's not nice... I had somethgin similar happen to me on a test drive, when I had left a vise grip on the fuel line. I laughed out loud when I realized what I'd done.
I'm sure you've already spoken to, your friend, Marc Trahan, regarding the possible valve problem. That's one of those things where Ai'd talk to a few well versed people and see what they had to say. In the end, if the engine does fail, then it's just the right time for an LS swap! I had to throw that one in. 🙂
Pit Crew

Screw 'em, it's a Ferrari, and has one of the best engines they ever built. I have also read often that the Dino 2+2 is one of the best-handling cars they ever made. I admit I am one of those not enamored of it's looks, but there are plenty of people who don't like mine, either.

You probably know this, but do the fuse box update, do the update of the window regulators if they are the electric ones, and that update of the temp sending unit for the electric radiator fan. All this stuff is on the 308 web site, I think it's called. These cars and their descendants are probably the last user-serviceable Ferraris. Also, if you have AC, we updated to a rotary compressor. It is a little tricky, because at least on the 308 GTB QV it faces opposite.

Have fun and I hope y'all get out on the road soon. !!!
Intermediate Driver

Your July 1 email "Another reason to celebrate Ferrari" related the shock of the Chinettis when the 308GT4 arrived. I'm glad they stayed in business and grew to at least accept the car because the 308GT4 has long been one of my favorite Ferraris (especially those 308GT4s without two-tone paint on the sides). Bertone has designed some oddities for sure, and Gandini himself, too, but I tend to like a lot of his designs and this one is a winner from nose to tail in my book. And not every Pininfarina-designed Ferrari is gorgeous. Just look at the 400 Superamerica; what a dog.

I applaud you for devoting the time, knuckles, and bucks to restoring this example. I am enjoying your journey vicariously and look forward to its hopefully joyous conclusion.