Ex-traffic policeman Mark Ryan has created his ideal Ferrari 308
After a 30-year career in the police in Scotland, the last 20 as a traffic cop, in 2010 I bought my dream car, a manual Ferrari F355 GTS. As soon as I had joined the police I knew I wanted to be in the traffic department, but I did ten years on the beat in Rosyth first. I joined Traffic in 1991, achieved a class one advanced pass in training and was named driver of the year. We drove SD1 Vitesses, Senator 24V 3.0-litres and Granada 2.9 Injection 4x4s – proper rear-wheel-drive power machines. Then in 2001 I became an instructor, teaching advanced, pursuit and royal protection driving, having driven most of the royal family at some point. I still do part-time blue light reassessment for the police, though the cars aren’t as exciting.
Interview James Elliott
IGNITION / Man & Machine
Something like the F355 had always been coming. When I was 14 my dad let me drive his company Vauxhall Cavalier up and down the driveway in Kirkcaldy. At 15 I started washing cars for a local dealership and after two years I bought a Mini from them. Almost 100 cars followed, including an RS2000, a 2.8 Injection Capri, a Lancia Beta Monte-Carlo, even a Lotus Esprit S2 that I bought at 20 then traded for an Austin Montego when I got married. Yet the F355 turned out not to be my dream car and I moved it on after just two years. A 360 Spider replaced it, then an Aston Martin V8, then another Esprit. I currently have an E92 BMW M3 Dakar edition, one of only a handful left in Britain, plus a 2018 Abarth 124 Spider and a BMW i3. And somewhere along the way I formed Driving Scotland, a group for all enthusiasts. It now has 120 members and no snobbery or elitism – it’s great.
The moment I saw this Blu Sera metallic 308 for sale I was in love and traded in my Mondial for it. The Magnum PI thing is a horrible cliché but I was addicted to that show. I couldn’t care less about the characters or the plot, I just gazed at the car. I bought it in 2016 and drove it more than 1000 miles in the first year, but something wasn’t right in the engine. A tweak turned into a partial rebuild, then a full engine rebuild, and then a total restoration of the car inside and out. I’m not someone with unlimited funds, so I’m scared to add up what I spent: there were 67 invoices from the restoration company and the engine was another £15k.
Clydesdale Classic Cars in East Kilbride did the restoration and were fantastic, fabricating a custom grille from aircraft grade steel yet using the original Ferrari badge. To my mind it didn’t look right at the front so I sourced a deep-chin spoiler and twin Carello spots to go behind the grille, so it looked a bit like a 288GTO. I finally got it back in May and, now on four twin-choke Webers, it drives beautifully.
For me the defining moment of the project was the wheels, which are comparable to period split-rims. I got them when a lady came up to me at a show, admired my car and offered them to me because her 308-owning brother had recently passed away. I accepted them, of course, and promised her that the first thing I would do when it was finished would be to take her for a spin. And that’s exactly what I did.