18 Apr Ferrari in the Dirt Part 1: Michelotto
Ferrari in the Dirt Part 1: Michelotto
Sometimes, a detailer sees something brilliant, but is glad not to have to detail it. Rally cars fall into this category, since they get so filthy every time they run a race. Kansas City, Missouri has never seen a rally. The closest we get is Rally America’s weekend out in Salem. Auto detailing would likely see a boom if we ever hosted one. But usually when we think about rally cars, we picture base model, common cars: Imprezas, Fiestas, and VWs customized for racing, but nothing to need high-end auto detailing. That hasn’t always been the case, though, because Ferrari used to race rally cars, and every Ferrari needs a detailer.
Maranello fielded their rally offerings in the mid-eighties during the FIA’s infamous Group B years. Under Group B regulations, very few examples of each car had to be produced, just 25, in order for that machine to compete. This meant that the cars got very powerful and dangerously fast. But Ferrari couldn’t afford to front 25 highly-developed production cars for the market, though others like Lancia
and Audi could. So the Prancing Pony chose a car already on the market, and resolved to alter it very little, satisfying the FIA’s Group B rules. No, homologation was not a detail the governing bodies were about to let Ferrari forget.
They chose the 308. It was lightweight, inexpensive to wreck, and easy to modify. Its quattrovolvole 3 liter V8 only offered 288 hp, but all of those horses were aspirated naturally, meaning the 308 had no need to wait around for turbos to spool up, like so many other Group B cars. It could launch out of every last bend and corner on rally courses’ twisting dirt roads.
As it was never designed to compete in any motorsport, the 308 GTB Michelotto was an unlikely candidate for Group B, but won several races and placed in several more, a true success for Ferrari.
Auto detailing a rally car like the 308 right after a race would be a huge challenge. But we feel confident we could handle the job. Auto detailing is an all or nothing business, and if Kansas City ever does house a rally machine, we stand ready to detail it, Ferrari or no.
Next week we’ll discuss the Ferrari rally beast that never was, and how it helped usher in the real delight of the detailer: the F40.