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328 Time on road vs time in shop / garage?

Discussion in '308/328' started by mcomet, Nov 28, 2020.

  1. mcomet

    mcomet Karting
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    Feb 17, 2013
    108
    NorCal Bay Area - CA
    Short version:

    How much time when you are with your car are you "driving it" vs "working on it/having it worked on" ?

    Long version:

    Greetings. This is not a question about time between "majors" needed, or how much a belt service costs etc. My question is: For people driving 328 and perhaps 308 how much time is your car simply "ok let's go for a weekend drive" vs "Its being worked on" either by yourself or a mechanic? Whether it is maintenance or improvement. Here is why I am asking...

    I currently own a modern Porsche GT4. It's pretty much the epitome of modern engineering - extremely well balanced, amazing braking and general all around performance and feel, and of course reliable. But it's new. Obviously the F cars I am talking about are 30 years old or so. I like the Cayman GT4 but am looking to move into Italian ownership. Whether it be older or "less old" a bit (I'll explain in a moment). But I am basically thinking of getting rid of the Porsche to replace it with something else Italian. Why?

    Historically I grew up with Italian exotics in the 80s and 90s. I was blessed enough that my father actually owned many of these cars when they were "new" (he always bought pre-owned but were still the current model). So for me it's memory. I recall flying down with my dad in the 80s when I was 13 or so to Florida. He picked up his first Ferrari - a 308. We drove it back with me navigating using a paper "trip-tick" in the passenger seat from FL all the way back to OH. Rain leaked in the passenger window even when 'new'-ish as we slept for a few hours in GA. Anyhow multiple 308's and a Countach, F348, some F355's, a Diablo etc... So for me there is a larger nostalgia factor with the older cars as well as the Italian brands of Ferrari and Lamborghini in particular. I am on my third Porsche but never really had a P-car as my "poster car". I am huge 80s exotic nut from growing up this way tho.

    I've done a fair bit of research by this point. (I think). I have test driven two 308's, a 348, a 355, and an F1 360 (I'd only do 6MT in any of these - the rest other than 360 were manuals). I've also driven four Gallardo - just because last lambo with gated shifter and way more modern akin to what I am used to now. Altho a lot more "numb" and with polarizing styling and of course perception. Sadly I have yet to try a 328.

    I started to consider 348/355 but after really getting real with the costs I decided to bow out. I have no doubt I could afford major services on those cars fine. But am concerned about the other "incidental" issues that can crop up being additional costly events on top. The 360 seems to be a toss up. More reliable overall but I have seen them with similar repeat time in the shop vs on the road. And style wise at that point I think I would go Lambo just for the benefit of Audi level reliability that is from a near similar later time period. While not a retro car the gated shifter and brand at least would be "nostalgic" to me by association.

    The brings me back to the reliable 328. Ergonomics aside being the earlier Ferrari cars from seat position, pedal placement and steering wheel to somewhat questionable A/C etc... I am really curious to know how many people use these cars...vs are finding that they have to fiddle with them and not drive them. From trying to source parts to DIY work or perhaps in my case more likely less DIY and more payed service (I don't mind being in my car but not so much under it from a "working" standpoint). I did some searches but couldn't really find an answer. I see videos where people work on their car what seems like every week.

    The hobby is more "car repair" vs "car road driving". Obviously with a classic you get one with the other. But I am curious about the proportion of that time. I would likely want to turn the key and drive my car almost every week based on where I live. And as you can tell I am also mulling the whole "actual classic car experience" vs modern-ish one. Any insight to share would be cool.

    Thank you! Michael
     
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  3. maurice70

    maurice70 F1 Rookie

    Jan 25, 2004
    4,104
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    maurice T
    I have had my 87 328 GTS for 10 years now and it has never left me stranded.
    I do all my own maintenance including belt service.

    My suspension bushes are up for replacement and I have all the parts in boxes in my garage for a a complete suspension overhaul, I have recently started my own business so I am a little time poor at the moment.

    The only time it has given me a real issue was hunting down a intermittent backfire which ended up being 2 faulty HT leads. Replaced the set and it hasn’t missed a beat since, that was 7 years ago..

    Touch wood but the 328 has been the most reliable car I have ever had period.
     
  4. Brian A

    Brian A Formula 3

    Dec 21, 2012
    2,396
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    1983 US 308 GTS QV
    They are odd cars and we are an odd bunch.

    I would say that my 1983 308 GTS is just a reliable as anything. I turn the key, it starts and I go. However it is 40 years old and there is always something that can be made better or refreshed on the car, so the car gets a lot more work done to it than is needed to just keep it moving. As an owner, I tend to want to get it perfect because it is this mystical thing called a "Ferrari". Very few of us are just driving them anymore to consume the service utility of our particular example with the plan to trade to a newer model when the car is used up. We like what we got.
     
  5. ginoBBi512

    ginoBBi512 Formula Junior
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    Oct 9, 2016
    711
    For me, after 21 years of ownership, these last two years, my car has been in the shop , ,mainly for routine maintenance , and also for a bunch of restoration , AC , suspension, fuel pump issue, so its been in the shop more than i have driven it, on Tuesday, it goes back in the shop for an electrical problem with the fog lights, and dash idiot lights, as well as the fuel pump not turning off when the key is left on but not starting the car. I have put over 80,000 miles over 20 years, so all in all , I am way ahead when it comes to shop vs, driven .

    Thank you,
     
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  6. kcabpilot

    kcabpilot Formula 3

    Apr 17, 2014
    1,195
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    Paul
    Not sure if you should be getting into a 30+ year old exotic car based on nostalgia because well, it's generally a disappointment. Fact is, you can never go back. In my case part of the lure of getting an old 308 was to fiddle and tinker with it and I'd say, based on what you read here, that it's true of a lot of people who go down this road. Considering their age there's pretty much always going to be something that could be done, not to say that it would have to or that it would necessarily prevent you from using the car but in comparison to a newish Cayman it's certainly going to be a different experience. Question is: how much enjoyment do you get out of turning a wrench?
     
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  8. mike996

    mike996 F1 Veteran

    Jun 14, 2008
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    Mike 996
    The number of times my '89 328, purchased in 2008, has had to be worked on by me or a shop for other than routine maintenance is...ZERO. A new Porsche 911, and the last two MBs that my wife have owned all required multiple repair trips for various issues - Th Porsche required a warrantied engine replacement and its transmission had to be replaced about two months after the warranty expired!

    328's probably the most reliable car I have ever owned...except for maybe our Hyundai Santa Fe! :)
     
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  9. yelcab

    yelcab F1 World Champ
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    Nov 29, 2001
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    Mitchell Le
    Buy the 328. Its the most reliable Ferrari ever made. Having said that, get to know a good mechanic in the Bay Area. There will be something to sort out, now, tomorrow, eventually.
     
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  10. mcomet

    mcomet Karting
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    Feb 17, 2013
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    NorCal Bay Area - CA
    Thanks for replies so far. Yes my Q wasn’t so much about “reliability” but the items and time to keep things restored or working. And is about what I assumed some people driving a lot. Then eventually do a restore pass so then it’s in shop more. I guess my Q couple be rephrased as in for the 52 weeks in a year. How much are usable vs work.

    But yes I appreciate the comment about experience and wrenching. I think that’s my conundrum. I like the idea of the engagement and driving but not necessarily the garage work. In many ways would make more sense as an additional garage weekend car but I cannot have two toys. I will see where i land. Something tells me newer still but was really curious to see this data point from actual owners. Thanks!
     
  11. mike996

    mike996 F1 Veteran

    Jun 14, 2008
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    Mike 996
    I can't help but add a bit more re 328 reliability. I have driven mine across the USA several times and we are planning to drive it from TX to Atlanta and back for the Xmas holidays. I don't even consider that it might have a problem. I just get in and drive it! I don't carry any tools/spare parts other than the OEM tire-changing tools and the OEM space saver spare.
     
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  13. johnk...

    johnk... F1 Veteran
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    Jun 11, 2004
    8,689
    New England/FL
    Aren't you the guy who posted about your 355 engine being trashed?:confused:
     
  14. 4right

    4right Formula 3
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    In my opinion, the amount of time spent either on the road or in the shop is more dependent upon the ambitions of the owner not because of the needs of the car. There are so many examples of projects with the purpose of trying to extract more out of these cars. More handling, more hp, more torque, etc. Once you have a 308 properly sorted they can be driven and enjoyed without issue. To your point, where the challenge comes in is getting it to that sorted state. You also have project creep which is why you hear people say buy the best example possible that has already been maintained well over the years, this will keep the car out of the shop and on the road. If you buy a project car expect it to be in the shop more than on the road, buy a well sorted and maintained car, it will be on the road more, it’s up to you to decide what path to go.
     
  15. ducowti

    ducowti Formula 3

    Jan 27, 2008
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    David
    #12 ducowti, Nov 29, 2020
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2020
    I've put about 20K on my 86 Euro, including three trips SC to NY or reverse. Have had no more issues w.my (well-sorted) 328 than any other car I've owned. Road:shop time is probably 99:1. Get a well-sorted car w.records and a thorough PPI by a good wrench and your experience should be similar.

    That said, my first trip NY to SC, having owned my 328 for a few months and scared of the rumors of F unreliability, I had a list of wrenches in every state in which I'd be traveling. Prudence, I believed, is all it was. Never needed that list and don't even know where the hell it is.

    Stop mulling, and pick one up. The 328 needs no introduction, explanation, or convincing; she is unlike other sports cars - exotic, full of character, and a stunner. You will NOT regret owning one (err at least provided diligence in selection).

    As I've aged 12 years since I bought mine my body definitely recognizes the ergonomic issues (to your point, the pedals are askew of being centered on the lower back!), but that just means shorter drives or more frequent stops.
     
  16. johnk...

    johnk... F1 Veteran
    Owner

    Jun 11, 2004
    8,689
    New England/FL
    Got you confused with another guy.

    Buy the car you like. I've owned a 308 QV for 35 years and a 355 for 8. Haven't had a significant problem with either. You saw the cam drive bearing failure in the 355 thread. That can happen to a 3x8 too. The 355 does required a little more attention, but it's worth it for the driving experience. The time I spend working on either car is incidental and mainly keeping them looking good. I do all the work on the cars other than majors. I think it has been mentioned but to say it again, many people just spends a lot of time fixing things that don't fixing.
     
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  17. Rosey

    Rosey Formula 3

    Nov 5, 2015
    2,193
    Australia
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    Mark R
    During 2020 I have but around 250 km on my car and it's a 25 km drive to and from my mechanic.

    Other then the annual scheduled maintenance service all other driving is either...
    To and from getting detailed,
    to and from getting fuel,
    to and from getting to concorso's,
    ....and then occasionally driving for the sake of driving. :) :)
     
  18. mcomet

    mcomet Karting
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    Feb 17, 2013
    108
    NorCal Bay Area - CA
    Thanks for all the replies! Interesting on the 355. What sort of incidental work is it that you are doing? Suspension? Electrical? And as someone else mentioned I think if I am honest the ergo for me in the 328 is a concern. I know in my 308 test drives I had a hard time being comfortable reaching clutch etc. just a little too short at 5’2”. Wish the seats had moved one more click to lock position. They move forward more but don’t lock at that spot. The 348/355 are vastly superior sitting wise. Heh.
     
  19. mr308gtb

    mr308gtb Formula Junior
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    Sep 12, 2004
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    MeestahBig
    20 years with a 1977 308... no major issues of any concern. 20 years with a 94 348... no major issues of concern. Just added a one owner testarossa with full service history, everything seems pretty much routine. I think you are over thinking it, but definitely buy a well sorted out clean car and keep it fresh.
     
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  20. johnk...

    johnk... F1 Veteran
    Owner

    Jun 11, 2004
    8,689
    New England/FL
    I do both cars annual fluids. On the 308 I had to track down the loss of spark on one bank which was due to a bad distributor rotor. Other than that, I replaced plug wires and a distributor cap, and a set of brake pads. On the 355, a coolant temp sensor and oil pressures sender that were bad when I got the car, a couple of O2 sensors, CV joint boots, track down a broken wire causing misfire on one bank, replace an MAF, and replaced actuator motor for the AC vent selection and recirculation flap. These are old cars and things go bad.
     
  21. yelcab

    yelcab F1 World Champ
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    Nov 29, 2001
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    Mitchell Le
    By the way, I have a 1989 328, the best of the 328.

    Other than a major service every 5 years, a fluid service every 1 or 2 years, I have had only two occasions where the car failed on me in over 10 years of ownership.

    1) a bad fuel pump connector at the fuse board. This is a very well known problem and is preventable if you pay attention.
    2) A heater hose blew up at the engine rear bank. This is an inexcusable episode on my part. I neglected to change that hose when I bought the car because .... it really is a ***** of hose to do. I paid for my laziness. This hose, or a 3 foot section of it, is routinely changed at the 5 years service such that .... it does not blow up.

    Other than that, my ratio of hours driving to hours working is 95 : 1 or it seems like it.

    As for your GT4, well, I have a 996 GT3 with the same specs as that of the GT4. I enjoy driving the Ferrari 328 immensely more than the GT3. The public at large seems to like it better too.
     
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  22. Zeus

    Zeus Formula Junior
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    Apr 28, 2007
    675
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    Lawrence
    My 1989 328 has never had a single mechanical, electrical or other problem. It goes to the shop for its annual fluids change every year and belt service every 5 years. It had a major service at 12k miles and will have another soon when it hits 30k. Thus its down time is 3 days/year (I usually drop the car off at the shop for 3 days). As others have experienced, I just get in, turn the key and go. The car is driven weekly for 6 months/year and still looks and drives like new.
     
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  23. Lawrence Coppari

    Lawrence Coppari Formula 3

    Apr 29, 2002
    1,971
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    Lawrence A. Coppari
    I've owned my '87 328GTS just about 33 years now. It's on its second water pump but still has its original water hoses except for the large short one near the thermostat. I have to cut that one off to remove it when I service the car. Years ago I replaced the lambda sensor because my slow down light kept coming on. Spark plug wires have been replaced and new spark plug extenders are on order. Two years ago the shift rod seal that separates the oil sump from the transaxle sump was replaced. It took me a week to do it but I am a slow worker. I replaced the shaft seal in the York compressor many years ago. At the moment the speedometer and pulse generator are in Palo Alto getting fixed. Palo Alto says my pulse generator is faulty because the speedometer works with their pulse generator but not with mine. A new generator is in the mail on its way to Palo Alto. Pulse generator showed me pulses that coincided with wheel speed but evidently the pulses were on the weak side. Vehicle has about 34K miles on it.

    The most perplexing problem I ever had with it had to do with a sudden idle speed change after an engine hiccup that would occur after driving for a short time. Turned out the original spark plug wires were interfering with the computer in the rear. There probably were some other issues over the years that I do not recall at the moment but these were the salient ones. The car was professionally serviced only once in the early 90's. I don't think I'll ever sell it.
     
  24. spirot

    spirot F1 World Champ
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    Dec 12, 2005
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    Tom Spiro
    I've owned both 308's and 328. The 328 is by far the more reliable usable car. over 16 years of ownership on my 328 I think it probably spent about 5 weeks in the garage for work. about 1.5 weeks was for a windshield replacement from a golf ball strike on a highway..( long story )....

    The KEY is to buy a good car in the first place. Besides a PPI and Leakdown / compression test... you want to see a huge stack of invoices for the previous service history. higher mileage is not as much a worry vs. past mtns. There will always be work to be done - they are old cars, but when you keep on top of the Mtns, they are largely trouble-free. I've only been left once by my 328 ... and that was in the parking lot of a restaurant - with a cracked vacuum hose... the biggest trouble on a well kept 328 is going to be electrics... connectors get old corroded and start to burn out. this leads to lots of non-starting or running issues ... 90% of your troubles will likely be electrical in nature. the AC is not great, and even when well set up, provides only adequate cooling for one person. with two people in the cockpit at anything over 90F ... you are going to be HOT.

    Belt changes, water pump, tensioners and valve job every 5 years and mechanically you should be fine. suspension rebuild every 15 - 20 years, and new tires every 5-6 years. the interior can be a challenge to keep clean and neat ... but they can be brought back to life and look spectacular.

    the 328 is a very, very good Ferrari... and an in general good car .... its not the fastest or best handling but for pure all round fun, and joy of ownership its right up there. I Hope you buy one and love it.
     
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  25. spirot

    spirot F1 World Champ
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    Dec 12, 2005
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    Come to think of it - I think Merlin Motors here in Atlanta still as my old 328 for sale.... ( I have no commercial interest in the car any longer) but I would like it to go to a good home.
     
  26. mcomet

    mcomet Karting
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    Feb 17, 2013
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    NorCal Bay Area - CA
    Thanks for all the replies. Yeah I have no doubt there are some good 328 out there and it sounds truly usable. I guess my big thing to sort out is if I would be happy with the ergo issues and lack of decent A/C here vs something newer. Thanks all!
     
  27. pappy.72

    pappy.72 Formula Junior

    Nov 13, 2010
    445
    Elgin, IL
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    Dave
    My 89 328 has never failed except for one time when the battery died so no fault of the car. Other than oil changes and regular maintenance it has been 100% reliable. The key is to drive it regularly and my goal during the driving season (it hibernates when the salt hits the roads in IL) is to drive it at least once per week. I’ve owned it for 8 years now and it has been great. Most reliable Ferrari ever including the new models in my opinion.
     

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