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Dumbing down 308 electrics

Discussion in '308/328' started by JoeZaff, Feb 3, 2008.

  1. JoeZaff

    JoeZaff F1 Veteran
    Owner

    Aug 5, 2007
    5,403
    Philly suburbs
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    Joe
    Hey,
    I am a long time lurker and ferrari dreamer. I finally find myself in a position to buy my dream car--a 308. -I am willing to spend top dollar to get a well sorted 308 to start with. However, I am trying to minimize long term expenses. The last italian car I had was a 1979 Lancia Zagato which, despite thousands of dollars in maintenance, caught fire 2x, left me stranded all over this great country, and never had all its electrical systems working at the same time. After much disgust, I bypassed the dreaded Lucas system and rewired all essential components directly to the battery on their own switches, relays, etc (I also replaced all the gauges with Auto meters in a custom plexiglass gauge pod). Being carbed (with a gloriously modified racing engine) I didn't have to worry about EFI. My car looked like a Rally car at the end of the day with the endless row of toggle switches, but that was the end of catastrophic electric problems and my repair bills just disapeared. It seems the 308's have much of the same electronics as the Lancia, (Veglia gauges and Shoddy electrics), but also have very stout engines and trannys.

    Has anyone done any serious electric work on these cars? Are the electrical systems too complicated or integrated to bypass? I feel like if I could make the electrical system work out, the car would be very reliable---am I wrong? My wonderful patient wife--who puts up with my car collection and diminishing bank account has politely informed me that-- If this thing costs more than 1500.00 a year to maintain (sans the required services), you'll be sleeping in it. Am I being unrealistic in thinking I can rework the electrical system and end up with a car that won't break down or need something new every 5K miles?

    Should I just buy an old Viper R/T, Porsche 993 or new Lotus Elise and shut up?
     
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  3. jimshadow

    jimshadow F1 Rookie
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Feb 19, 2006
    4,530
    Indiana
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    JIM
    Though I have not torn down my 308's electrical system, I have the schematics and it does not appear overly difficult. Birdman's fusebox sorts most of the problems with the 308 in one easy upgrade (PO did mine. :)) and aside from that its a matter of relay switches that are available.
    Look for the best 308 that you can afford wether its a carbed car or a QV, GT4 or Mondial. Get a PPI and most importantly, D R I V E I T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    JIM
     
  4. JoeZaff

    JoeZaff F1 Veteran
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    Aug 5, 2007
    5,403
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    Joe
    Thanks for the reply. You hit it on the head. I want to drive the hell out of it...and as often as possible. I don't mind paying to maintain a finely tuned machine. However, I just don't have the patience to wake up every morning and start doing trouble shooting as to why the car won't start, why the lights won't go on, why this warning is on, and is there a real warning behind it or just another electrical glitch which someone is going to charge me $300.00 to confirm. "Birdman's" fix. Has it really licked the electrical gremlins? If so, it will be the first thing I do when I get mine--How much does it cost to do (parts and install)?

    I know Edmunds has not really been staying on top of their long termer. However, their experience was surprisingly similar to my Lancia experience and I spared no expense in maintaining that car. I am not buying this car for the looks, or the name. Put simply, I am buying it for the engine, gated transmission, and raw visceral driving experience. I just don't want to get sucked into a money pit where I pay to do what Ferrari R&D should have done 20 years ago!
     
  5. irondogmike

    irondogmike Formula 3

    Sep 8, 2006
    2,170
    San Diego area
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    Michael Tucker
    well, my 308qv is 23 years old and I'm the fourth owner,with 52k miles on it everything electronic works just fine,I might think about a up grade in the fuse boxes,I do belive if the car is a 1970-1980 I would differntly do it,I've never heard any problems in the qv's or 328's
     
  6. miketuason

    miketuason F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    Feb 24, 2006
    14,206
    Cerritos, CA.
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    Mike
    Same here, my 84 GTS QV has 74,000 miles and still has the original fuse block without any electrical problem, Knock on Wood.
     
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  8. irondogmike

    irondogmike Formula 3

    Sep 8, 2006
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    Michael Tucker
    hey mike,I think our cars were built on the same good day when someone cared about building a good ferrari
     
  9. JoeZaff

    JoeZaff F1 Veteran
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    Aug 5, 2007
    5,403
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    Joe
    You want to sell it? Just kidding ;)

    If you haven't had any electrical problems, what problems have you had? From what I hear and have seen (to a much smaller extent), the drivetrains and suspensions are bullet proof, but the electrical systems are responsible for the bad reliability rap (along with aging cooling systems). The Mondials being the worst offenders in that regard. Am I wrong, are there significant incidences of mechanical failures as well? Is the reputation overblown? For example, I have had two Land Rovers and were told they wouldn't make it out the driveway because of their poor build quality. I put 60K on each of them without a single incident. My BMW's on the other hand, for all their "German brilliance," lived in the shop.--I'll never own another one again, but that's for another thread.
     
  10. jimshadow

    jimshadow F1 Rookie
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Feb 19, 2006
    4,530
    Indiana
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    JIM
    The fuse box is the short coming in the 3x8 series. Birdman has a wonderful upgrade. It's a DIY item. Can't remember how much it costs but its less than $200 IIRC... I've not had any electrical problems in 10 months and nearly 6,000 miles on my GT4. If you buy correctly, electrical problems should be a minor concern.

    JIM
     
  11. Steve King

    Steve King F1 Rookie

    Feb 15, 2001
    4,365
    NY
    Having been a Jag guy most of my life I have lived with the LUCAS (aka Prince of Darkness) quirks. I have not seen this in my 308. Other then rebuilding my fuse blocks (my old one just broke up) I have had no electrical problems. I drive the car as much as weather permits and have fun doing it. So my opinion is go for it and enjoy.
     
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  13. miketuason

    miketuason F1 World Champ
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    Feb 24, 2006
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    Mike
    I agree Mike:)
     
  14. irondogmike

    irondogmike Formula 3

    Sep 8, 2006
    2,170
    San Diego area
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    Michael Tucker
    the 308qv's have more updated stuff than the older 308's after the qv's came the 328's which they work out some more bugs,but if you can get a qv,there might have been problems with my car in the past but none that I'm awere of,I've talk to the past two owners and have been happy with the car,it has had new paint,interior and just the scheled maintance,I've post in some others threads and listed over 20 sites to help you sreach for a ferrari,finds those and have fun finding your dream car
     
  15. JoeZaff

    JoeZaff F1 Veteran
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    Aug 5, 2007
    5,403
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    What day was that :)

    I am really pleasantly surprised to hear that all of your cars have been reliable. To tell you the truth, I was beginning to get cold feet. I figure if I spend 40K I should be able to get a very well maintained 308, probably not a Quattrovalve, but probably a really good GTSI. After that, if I do the Birdman upgrade and do all the services as required, do you guys think I can come away with a car that costs about $1500.00 a year in repairs/ maintenance?

    I am not looking for a garage queen or super low mileage show car, but I want a car where someone was over the top when it came to maintenance and servicing. I am hoping that by 30K to 40K miles, such an owner probably would have sorted out all the Ferrari "eccentricities"
     
  16. irondogmike

    irondogmike Formula 3

    Sep 8, 2006
    2,170
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    Michael Tucker
    this is a prefect time to buy,money is tight with the rich and some are letting go of there toys,you need to shop now and be ready to buy when you find that right car,be very paintent,don't buy because you want a ferrari but because its the right car to buy at the time,and get a ppi,mine cost me 500 and the car was looked over for over four hours,I bought it four months ago for 36k,and it looks great,so I think you'll find a great car for not alot of money but they are going up in price
     
  17. irondogmike

    irondogmike Formula 3

    Sep 8, 2006
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    Michael Tucker
    I reposted the thread for you classifed sites,enjoy
     
  18. JoeZaff

    JoeZaff F1 Veteran
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    Aug 5, 2007
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    Thanks so much. This is a great board!
     
  19. dave80gtsi

    dave80gtsi Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Nov 3, 2003
    1,473
    Ohio
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    Dave Meredith
    In my 30 years of dinking with dozens of different Italian cars, my experience with their electrical systems is that almost 100% of the electrical problems that you will encounter are mechanical in nature.

    That is, corrosion at connections and poor electrical contacts are almost always the problem.

    When you get your new 308, do this: Spend an afternoon going over every electrical connection that you can find, all over the car from front to back. Especially look for grounds. Remove the connector, sand the contact points clean to bare metal, apply copper based electrical connection grease, and reassemble.

    Italian cars also seem to have weak ignition switches with iffy connections. Disconnect the battery, and get a can of electrical contact cleaner with a skinny spray nozzle. Stick the nozzle deep where your ignition key would go, and spray away. Then insert the key and work it back and forth. Repeat this exercise until the contact cleaner overspray that runs out the back of the switch is clear. May take as many as a dozen times or more - the first couple of times you do it, the runoff will be black with years of goop being flushed out. And it's that black dirt and goop which prevents a sure electrical connection.

    Yes, 308 OEM fuse boxes can be suspect, simply due to poor electrical contact at both ends of the fuses. Give yours a critical look - remove each fuse and check both ends for any bad signs of corrosion or overheating. Again, sand the fuse ends clean to metal with a very fine sandpaper and apply a dab of copper grease - this will do wonders.

    I did this work 5 years ago to my 308, and have had -ZERO- electrical problems.

    An ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure, and all of that stuff.

    Cheers - DM
     
  20. miketuason

    miketuason F1 World Champ
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    Feb 24, 2006
    14,206
    Cerritos, CA.
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    TAX season could either be a bad season to buy a car or good season to buy a car, It all depends on the seller, weather he/she is getting money back from IRS or
    he/she has to pay IRS. If he/she has to pay then it's good to buy from that kind of seller.
     
  21. vteqe

    vteqe Formula Junior

    Mar 5, 2005
    664
    long Island, NY
    Full Name:
    Sandy
    Typicaly, 3x8's have a slow window problem which can partially be associated with the car's door/window ground connection.
     
  22. irondogmike

    irondogmike Formula 3

    Sep 8, 2006
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    San Diego area
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    Michael Tucker
    that may be true but how many times do you have the window going up and down while driving your dream car, when my window is down my top is off and the heater is on,and the sound of the engine is just what the doctor order after a long week at work slinging iron and tying rebar in a bent down postion for 8 hrs a day,I could care less if my windows are fast or slow going up and down,just as long as she can take me down that road fast! but I love the color of your qv sandy!
     
  23. chrismorse

    chrismorse Formula 3

    Feb 16, 2004
    2,149
    way north california
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    chris morse
    Hi Joe,

    It sounds like you have a realistic budget and enough maintenance experience to be happy with a 308.

    I would recommend getting as much of the service history as you can from the po and having a thorough PPI done by someone you can trust.
    I would avoid a car with rust problems primarily for the cost to cure and the possibility that you will incurr corrosion problems in the electrics.
    Look at what the po has had to fix besides the usual fluid changes, belts, pads and tires; is the car plagued with intermittant problems or recurring porblems?
    Having a decent service history on the car gives you a starting point, to pick up on the maintenance - I bought my 77 with a very poorly owner doccumented maintenance history, so, I am doing wheel bearings, hoses, the fuse box, all of the relays, as well as the obvious needed items, axle boots, suspension bushings, noisy shocks, radiator fan motors - and just to be on the safe side, i am going to rebuild the carbs and do all of the heater/coolant hoses before summer.
    It is better to have a pile of receipts from a good mechanic and have a high mileage car than a low mile car with no records.
    The PPI is the best way to avoid unknowns, spend the $ to get a good one and look for records.

    hth,
    chris
     
  24. JoeZaff

    JoeZaff F1 Veteran
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    Aug 5, 2007
    5,403
    Philly suburbs
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    Personally, I plan on removing the A/C pump and leaving the windows down--permanently. The only thing I care about is that everything responsible for making the car run, handle and pass inspection work flawlessly. I am not really looking for amenities of any kind. To me, the more electrical systems operating, the more possibilities for failure---and taking something important with them. All I need is a a winding road and the glorious sound of a Ferrari V8 as I run through the gated gearbox That being said, being that this is my dream car, the exterior and interior will be babied to an embarrassing extent.
     
  25. Mike C

    Mike C F1 Veteran
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    Aug 3, 2002
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    Mike Charness
    Easy quick fix by an FChat guy worked great on mine: www.FerrariWindows.com and I think you can also buy his relay boxes through www.RicambiAmerica.com
     
  26. BwanaJoe

    BwanaJoe Formula 3

    Oct 23, 2006
    1,744
    Former Space Coast
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    Joe Burlein
    Dave is right on the money. The fuseboxes merely take out a bad system and replace it with a much better one (but still WELL worth every cent). But that just takes one variable out of the equation. The cleaning of contacts is the most important thing involved. Take his cleaning advice to hart do it the weekend you get the car. But, with that said, these are still old cars and no amount past maintenance (short of a Big Red style full resto) is going to cure the occasional electrical problem. You can wake up one day and find the speedo sensor suddenly doesn't work or the starter solenoid is flaky. Get used to the fact that you will have some kind of gremlin every once and a while.
     
  27. irondogmike

    irondogmike Formula 3

    Sep 8, 2006
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    Michael Tucker
    joezaff,what state do you live in,have you checked out some of the sites I put up for you? when I looked for my ferrari I looked for service history,and I did look for something like some one put some money into to keep it looking nice,my car two owners ago had it painted($10k) atleast,the interior by the last owner ($5k for the kit) and another 2k to install it,last major in mid 2004 ($7800).......I know it wasn't orginal interior or paint but it looks great to drive and everyone thinks its a $100k car........and its a great driver only its never been in the rain or snow,also its a 85 and it has a very good rust proof under the car and lids
     
  28. JoeZaff

    JoeZaff F1 Veteran
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    Aug 5, 2007
    5,403
    Philly suburbs
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    Joe
    Thanks again for putting the links up for me. I haven't finished going through them yet. Can you recommend someone to help me out in the Philly area?
     

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