The order for chassis 19285 was placed on the 14th November 1975, by Maranello Concessionaries in the UK, less than a month after the car was displayed in Paris. It was the 19th car to travel down the assembly line as verified by the assembly number stamped on the oil cooler bracket and hand written on numerous other components such as the back of the door trims and dash. As such the car was possibly one of the first customer production cars built following the prototypes and display vehicles, and is believed to be the first right hand drive 308 GTB produced for the UK. There there is much evidence of hand fitting and adjustment of components by the factory.
The order was acknowledged by the factory on the 1st December 1975, and identified as a “Rosso Chiaro Ferrari 20-R-190 with beige leather trim and carpets”. The car wears this same trim today, with the exception of carpets which are brown, presumably a mix-up or deliberate change by the factory. Documents obtained from Ferrari show the car was delivered by lorry from Modena, Italy, to Maranello Concessionaires, Surrey, UK, on the 20th April 1976, some 5 and half months after it was ordered. It was then a further month before the car was delivered to the purchaser.
4th June, 1976 - Sir Maxwell Aitken
The 308 GTB was first owned by Sir Max Aitken, the son of the 1st Lord Beaverbrook, who’s address is recorded in the owners manual as “The Garden House, Cherkley, LeatherHead, Surrey”. He paid £9973.60 for the car including on-road costs.
John William Maxwell Aitken was born in Montreal on the 15th of February 1910 son of Lord Beaverbrook the Canadian born press bar on and founder of the Express Newspaper Group. Sir Max was educated at Westminster School London, Pembroke College Cambridge then joined the Royal Auxiliary Air Force in 1935. During WW2 he served as a pilot on a Bristol Blenheim then Hawker Hurricane becoming a CO in 1940. He then served in the Middle East becoming Wing Leader of the Banff Strike Wing where he reached the rank of Group Captain achieving 14 and one shared aircraft shot down. At the end of the war he joined the family newspaper business becoming a director of the Express Group and eventually Chairman of Beaverbrook Newspapers Ltd.
Sir Max was a keen powerboat racer and this interest obviously extended to cars as he is known to have owned a 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Special, 1969 Ford GT40 Mk.3 (1103/YPE798G now in the Beaulieu Museum, a Ferrari 308 GT4 (Chassis #08426) and a 1978 Ferrari 400 GT. Some of these cars carried the same registration plate (MAX 777) as fitted to this 308 GTB. It is also claimed he conceived the London-Sydney Marathon in 1968 over a boozy lunch at the Savoy Hotel, just a stagger from his Fleet Street offices. Within a week it was announced in his paper with a £10,000 first prize for the winner.
5th June, 1978
In October 1977 it is reported by the Beaverbrook Foundation that Max Aitken sold the car back to Maranello Concessionaires in part exchange for a new Ferrari 400GT which he kept until his death in 1985. It is believed 19285 was then passed “in the trade” to Ferrari dealer Cooper Car Sales to its second owner (identity currently unknown) on the 5th June, 1978. According to the service records the car showed 22,000 miles on the odometer in June 1980 when it was 4 years old.
The second owner kept the car for 16 years until 1994 when it was sold at a Coys auction with a recorded 51,000 miles. It was claimed in the auction brochure that the car was very carefully used, always garaged and rarely used in wet weather. The car was sold as the owner, then in his 70’s, was having difficulty with the clutch pedal. The registration of the car at that time was NGP 905P as displayed in COYS catalogue and this number is still etched on the window glass today (a common practice in the UK).
Cooper Car Sales was later purchased by the Sytner Group (www.sytner.co.uk
) and the Ferrari side of that business is understood to have passed on to Graypaul’s in Nottingham (www.graypaulferrari.co.uk
). The current owner contacted Graypaul’s by phone and email in June 2009 but they were unable to supply any further information on the car’s history or previous owners between 1978 and 1994. Coys were also unable to supply any further details as their previous auction records were destroyed in a fire in 2005.
21st March, 1994
The third owner of the car was Graham Reeder who purchased it at the Coys Auction held at the Royal Horticultural Halls, London, on the 21st March, 1994, for £21000 with a recorded 51,000 miles. He never drove the car on the road but prepared it to race in the standard class of the Pirelli Maranello Ferrari Challenge. The Reeder Brothers, Mike and Graham, run a performance and specialist car business in Pewsey, Wiltshire (www.reeders.co.uk
Graham Reeder stated they modified the car for racing by changing the front brake ducting, suspension angles, upgraded shock absorbers, larger main carburettor jets, battery cut out switch and towing eyes. The car was reported to handle and perform significantly better than a standard 308 GTB, albeit the ride is quite hard even today. They also had a distinctive stainless steel exhaust made (at great expense) by Bell Silencers, however before and after dyno tests showed no improvement, much to their surprise! During the time it was a race car it wore the number 23.
4th January, 1996
Graham Reeder sold the car to the fourth owner, John Qualtrough, on the 4th January, 1996, when car was almost 20 years old and had travelled 52,000 miles. John lived on the Isle of Man and whilst the car had only travelled 1000 (track) miles since 1994 but it still needed some TLC to bring it back up to spec so enlisted the services of well know Ferrari specialist and racer John Pogson. Qualtrough raced the car for 2 or 3 times a year for in the Ferrari owners club challenge, but stopped after a few years due to a few “close calls”. The car was then used infrequently for road use with its distinctive A308 MAN registration, and recorded only 6000 miles over 10 years. The car had travelled 57000 miles by this stage although the odometer showed 5000 miles as it was replaced in April 1997.
1st January, 2006
John Qualtrough sold the car to the fifth owner, David Todd, on the 1st January, 2006. David used the car for a mix of track and road use, clocking up a further 14,000 miles over 3 years.
The car was also present at Ferrari’s famous 60th anniversary gathering at Silverstone race track on the 9th June, 2007, when the world record for the “Largest Parade of Ferraris” was broken (385 cars in total).
During this time David also undertook some of the necessary restoration work that was required to keep the cars electrical system and other “vital functions” working and viable for road use. After 3 years ownership David traded the 308 for a 2002 Ferrari 550. The car found it's way through the motor trade to renown Ferrari restorer Nick Cartwright in April 2009 who intended to restore it. The current owner, an Australian, was searching for an early fibreglass dry sump car and found it via a Google search on Cartwrights website. He placed a deposit on the car and purchased it in unrestored condition 2 weeks later. It was exported to Australia in May 2009.
On arrival in Australia the car was modified to meet local motor vehicle engineering requirements for vehicles manufactured in 1976. This required the fitment of new seatbelts and replacement of flexible brake lines (the stainless steel ones were unlabelled therefore not considered compliant). The car was then registered for road use in August 2009. Since then the owner has started to sympathetically restore the vehicle to return it to largely original condition, as well as add some modern enhancements to improve drivability and comfort. This has included repairing the original seats and door trims, replacing broken slider controls and switches, fitting alarm and immobiliser, removing non-original wiring, adding sound deadening to interior of firewall, fitting a BMS electronic ignition system, de-tuning carburetors from race “spec”, replacing all suspension bushes and replacing the rear disks. All of these modifications are reversible and required no alterations to the original fittings.