That there are Ferrari racing cars is a surprise to no one. That Ferrari makes road cars is equally unshocking. A Ferrari rally car, though? That’s a different matter.
This Ferrari 308 GTB is not any old rally car, either, but one built to Group B regulations – the early 1980s fire-breathing formula that led to rally cars becoming so fast and so dangerous that it changed the face of the sport for ever.
Officially, this was never a Ferrari project. Italian race team Michelotto built around a dozen 308s to Group 4 regs in the late 1970s. When Group B arrived, Michelotto figured any rules that spawned a Lancia Stratos would suit a contemporary mid-engined Ferrari, too, so the team built four 308s to compete in the European and Italian rally championships, with one of the cars winning the latter in 1982.
In the UK, engineering company owner, race car preparer and Ferrari specialist Tony Worswick had the same idea, and this 308 here is the result: the only right-hand-drive Group B 308 GTB in existence.
Watch us drive the 308 GTB Group B rally car
As with the Italian cars, Ferrari was officially uninterested, but the UK distributor, Maranello Concessionaires, was compliant and the factory was quietly supportive. “Maranello would ring and say, ‘Some stuff has arrived from Italy; it must be yours’,” says Worswick.
The UK car’s development and success, however, was down to Worswick. The base engine is the 308’s 3.0-litre flat-plane-crank V8, but the heads are Worswick’s, with the top end designed to be as close as possible to a Cosworth DFV’s. It revs to 7500rpm and makes 450bhp, driving the rear wheels through a five-speed gearbox with dog-leg first.
That much power would be ample in a regular 308 GTB, which made less than 300bhp as standard, but this car weighs just 970kg. A comprehensive roll cage keeps things rigid, but the panels are carbonfibre at the front and kevlar-carbon – whose application Worswick says Ferrari spotted and adopted for the F40 – at the rear. The fuel tanks are in sponsons either side of the motor.