1987 Ferrari 328 GTB
Ordering a brand-new Ferrari in 1987 was a unique experience, and travelling to Maranello to pick up the latest 328 GTB was next level for owner Roger Walker. By Vaughan Wilson.
Ferrari 328 GTB
THE LAST ANALOGUE-ONLY FERRARI
Roger Walker is a pillar of Wellington architecture, establishing his own practice in the early 1970s, having begun his career in the 1960s with the architecture firm Calder, Fowler & Styles. Walker was notable for his unconventional design approach, even among the trendy modernist architecture of the 1960s and 1970s. His firm is now known as Walker Architecture & Design.
Walker was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1998 for services to architecture, and was awarded the New Zealand Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 2016. In the 1980s New Zealand — like the rest of the world — was in love with the sharemarkets. It was also going through radical and major economic reforms, and the country was energised by the Springbok tour and going nuclear-free — exciting times indeed. Magnum PI was the hottest show on TV, and Tom Selleck’s Magnum did for Ferrari what Ursula Andress did for the bikini.
Roger was dead keen on buying one — a Ferrari, that is, not a bikini — but he needed to save up. A Ferrari cost around £32,000 when the exchange rate for the Kiwi dollar was more than 3:1 — and there was a hefty duty to pay on top. Back then, New Zealand had a very healthy annual allotment of Ferraris so it was a simple matter to walk into your local Ferrari dealer, place your order, and wait.
MARANELLO, HERE WE COME
Roger saved hard, and during this time the current model changed from the 308 to 328. He placed an order with the late Mike Booth of Continental Cars, and when the vehicle was ready Mike and Roger decided to make a trip of it. They flew to France, got themselves to Monaco for the Grand Prix in late May 1987, and had a fantastic time — less so their livers, apparently. They then hired a car and drove to Maranello and, the holy of holies, the Ferrari factory.
They were duly met, shown around the factory, the assembly lines, and other areas of interest, and then leisurely taken to a large room where Roger’s new pride and joy basked in resplendent Ferrari red. The finance officer, a Mr Montorsi, greeted them, and Roger produced the Westpac Bank cheque for the balance of the purchase. The well-dressed and bespeckled Italian studied the cheque for what seemed an eternity. Roger piped up that it was indeed a genuine and legitimate bank cheque.
Mr Montorsi nodded and said, “This is the second time in two days I have seen such a cheque. Yesterday a Mr Elton John gave me something similar.”
It turned out Elton had completed a concert tour of Australia in late 1986 and had used his payment from the tour to pay for his new car. Mr Montorsi noted that a Mr Stallone would be picking up his new car on Friday.
SAFE AND SOUND
Mr Montorsi asked Roger if this was his first Ferrari. Roger nodded. Mr Montorsi in turn nodded and said, “Most people buying their first Ferrari buy a red one. Next time we see you, you may consider a different colour, yes?”
Last, Mr Montorsi asked if Roger had insurance. This was something Roger hadn’t considered and he gave a gentle shake of the head.
“No problema. Ferrari owns its own insurance company. I will organise for you.”
He duly did, as shown by a square sticker still on the rear glass window on the right side of the car. Awash with excitement and nervous exhaustion, Roger left the factory driving his brand-new dream and entered peak hour traffic. They headed to the Fini Hotel in nearby Modena, where most new Ferrari owners stay, knowing the hotel is well used to having Ferrari’s finest tucked up safely in the basement car park.
After a heady night of red wine and fine Italian cuisine, the two tourists drove on to see Roger’s sister-in-law near Lake Como, prompting further sampling of Italian wine and food. They then drove to the nearest Italian port, loaded the Ferrari onto a catamaran car ferry, and sailed for Dover.
Once on shore, someone in a Customs uniform — who could have been John Cleese’s twin brother — asked if they had anything to declare. As they had no luggage other than socks, shirts, and pants, he waved them on, unaware — as was Roger — that technically the car had to be declared given that it was brand new. A quick stop at the London Ferrari dealer sorted out the paperwork before the 328 was loaded into a container bound for Godzone.
Roger had turned down a healthy profit offered by the Ferrari dealer, who was struggling to keep up with the demand from London stockbrokers wanting to spend their ill-gotten gains. Just short of four months later, the stock market crashed. It would be interesting to know how many Ferraris in London were repossessed around that time from now downwardly mobile yuppies. The dealer told Roger that, being right-hand drive, his car had a different suspension set-up to allow for the opposing road camber and the dipped headlights were shielded in the opposite direction.
Roger still owns the 328. It is possibly the most original 328 in Australasia, having only covered 13,000km. Someone recently offered him a significant sum for the car, but Roger is not yet ready to part with it. He says it can only go up. The car still sits on its original tyres. Its paint is fantastic, and reflects the fact it has spent so little time outside in our harsh sun in its 34 years.
The original tape cassette stereo is on the dashboard and the seats look brand new, as do the carpets. All Roger has had to replace is the clutch, once, and the front spoiler, which came to grief on the lip of a friend’s driveway. Otherwise, it has been an uneventful and cost-effective ownership.
The car does not have air conditioning — a luxury and an expensive option in 1987. Of course, it would have sucked power from the engine and no Ferrari aficionado would want that, according to Roger. Adding to its purist appeal is the fact this is the last ‘all analogue’ Ferrari. ABS was introduced on this model the following year and it went on from there. He has taken it to Auckland, to Taupo, and on the track a few times, but most of its miles have been acquired on a quick drive once a month before it is put back to bed.
Roger loves this car. It reminds him of a great period, one of much fun with friends on the Continent.
The car is like a time machine, one that can transport the driver to a period of history when the volumes of excess were greater than the volumes of common sense; when champagne was used as bathwater, and anyone with a good idea could make a million by going public with a share float. In fact, when you think about it, not that different from today — except that crowdfunding has replaced shares, ideas have been replaced by new apps, and common sense is clouded by the promise of great fortunes. Just like Bitcoin!
So, the moral of the story is: if you have the means to purchase your dream car, even if you have to save up to do it, then go for it. But the better message is: don’t just rock up to the local dealer to pick it up. Go to its home base, its birthing room, see its manufacture, taste the culture of the location you are visiting, and, if possible, seek a related sporting event to further test your constitution.
Oh, and hang on to it of course. You never know, that extravagance may, along with a bevy of delightful memories, acquire a definite golden tinge.
Safe motoring, Rodger.
Adding to its purist appeal is the fact this is the last ‘all analogue’ Ferrari. ABS was introduced on this model the following year
1987 Ferrari 328 GTB
- Engine: Ferrari V8 Tipo F105B, transverse mounted
- Capacity: 3185cc
- Bore/stroke: 84.5mm/71mm
- Valves: 2 DOHC, four per cylinder
- Compression ratio: 9.2:1
- Fuel System: Bosch K-Jetronic, indirect injection
- Max power capped: 194kW (260bhp) @ 7000rpm
- Max Torque: 289Nm @ 5500rpm
- Transmission: Five-speed manual
- Suspension F/R: Unequal length A-arms with coil springs, anti-roll bar
- Steering: Rack and pinion
- Brakes: Vented disc
- Overall length: 4255mm
- Width: 1730mm
- Wheelbase: 2350mm
- Front track: 1485mm
- Rear track: 1465mm
- Kerb weight: 1360kg
- Performance: N/A
- 0-62mph (0-100kph): 5.7 seconds
- Standing ¼ mile: 14 seconds
- Max speed: 257kph
The car still sits on its original tyres. Its paint is fantastic, and reflects the fact it has spent so little time outside in our harsh sun.
“This is the second time in two days I have seen such a cheque. Yesterday a Mr Elton John gave me something similar”