Ferrari and its loyalists have a reputation for being unwelcoming to some of the ways people modify their cars. So much so that Maranello has gone as far as suing customers who have altered their cars in ways it doesn't like. Strangely though, the Ferrari community is fizzing with enthusiasm for a 1983 Ferrari 308 "outlaw" build that breaks all the rules for what you can and can't do to a Prancing Horse.
This edgy exotic is the work of Scott Barron, a longtime Ferrari owner who a few years back found what might've been the rattiest 308 for sale anywhere. It was just a rolling chassis with sheet metal from multiple cars, an incomplete Chevy 4.9-liter (305-cubic inch) V8 engine swap, and evidence of even more wrong under the skin. Worst of all, its owner wanted $9,500, which Barron countered with an offer of $5,000. While the owner declined, they eventually died, and the estate sold it to Barron for his initial offer.
That was when Barron found out just what he had bought into.
The 308 had lived a rough life, with damage on every panel, half-assed repairs, and still worse to be found underneath. Its front suspension was wonky to say the least, and both rear knuckles were cracked. On top of it all, a Ferrari 308 is still an Italian car from the 1980s, meaning it was built by people who had three glasses of wine with lunch. (Eds note: It's a four-hour lunch over there, three is a lowball estimate.) Its floor pan was held together by rivets and gobs of seam sealer, while its panel gaps were masked by a liberal application of lead. A Concours car, this 308 was never going to be. That gave Barron the perfect reason to take his project in the exact opposite direction.
Barron refreshed the 308's chassis, stripping it to sheet metal in places and resealing it. Using steel tubing and boxed sections, he built chassis bracing and new supports for a widened body, whose panels he beat into shape by hand over the course of multiple years.
Rather than reuse the nasty aftermarket wheels the car came with, he commissioned a one-off forged set inspired by the two-piece wheels Ferrari used on the 308 and F40. That was right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and their manufacturer was one town over from Wuhan when stay-home orders came down according to Barron. The way he tells it, someone had to sneak back into the factory to finish his wheels and ship them.
Fitting them also meant doing something about the cracked rear knuckles, which Barron found wildly impractical to replace. They're aluminum, so he heated them up and filled in their fissures with a MIG welder. Gotta do what you gotta do.
From there, Barron replaced the Chevy V8 with the stock 2.9-liter, twin-cam V8 from a 1978 308 GT4, and installed a massive 65-inch rear wing behind it. It and the wheels are pretty much the only major components not made by hand or salvaged from Ferrari parts cars. Practically every Ferrari parts trove has opened its doors to Barron, who says his project has been met with almost unanimous approval from Ferrari owners in person and online.
"The Ferrari circles love it, [I] get lots of offers of help and free or heavily discounted parts," Barron said. Surprisingly, the ones who don't like it tend to be the general public; folks like you and me who can't imagine owning a Ferrari, much less hacking one up.
"This particular car is always a freak-out when I take it out, in the summer I drive [it] to restaurants and to run errands," Barron said. "It definitely freaks out the squares."
In fact, Barron's fellow Ferraristi appreciate his work so much that someone has offered to buy his car when it's complete. Barron says he's not selling or risking his handiwork on the track. He wants to keep this high-caliber 308 for himself as a raucous road car, one that looks like it could've come from an edgier, alternate 1980s.
Almost more remarkable than Barron's craftsmanship, however, is what it has shown about the Ferrari community. While it values the kind of individuality that's often attained through deep pockets, and acquisition of limited-run special models, that isn't the only means to status in the Ferrari world. Barron is still in fairly deep, about $30,000, but that'll barely get you into a peasant-spec Mondial. His "outlaw" 308 meanwhile has made him practically Ferrari nobility.
It goes to show that just like in lower strata of society, you can buy your way into recognition. Admiration, though, still has to be earned.
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