Page 1 of 1 Launched at the 1973 Paris Motor Show, the 308 GT4 'Dino' was a complete departure from the 246 GT Dino that came before. For the first time in over 20 year a Ferrari road car was not bodied by Pinfinfarina but by Bertone. Under the angular body, the 308 sported the Italian manufacturer's first production V8 engine. With its 3-litre engine and rear seats, the 308 GT4 was in many ways Ferrari's answer to the ever evolving Porsche 911. What it lacked, compared to its German rival, was a factory built competition version to give the 308 GT4 racing credentials. This was somewhat rectified by Luigi Chinetti's North American Racing Team (NART), who were commissioned by Bill Schanbacher to turn the 308 GT4 into a Le Mans Racer.
Ferrari's representative in the United States took an existing 308 GT4 (chassis 08020) as the basis for the project. The car was put on a serious diet by stripping it from all unnecessary bits. Many of the steel panels were replaced by lightweight plastic copies and except for the windshield all the heavy glass was substituted by plexiglass. Larger, Ferrari 512 BB sourced, master brake-cylinders were fitted. The exterior was fitted with a front spoiler, a massive rear wing and flared arches to clear the wider tyres. The V8 was tweaked to around 300 bhp from the 250 bhp available in the road car. The engine modifications included the use of 365 GTB/4 Daytona 'Competizione' pistons, which were of the exact same dimensions as the 308's. There was no time or funding to convert the engine to dry-sump lubrication.
Appropriately dubbed the 308 GT4/LM, the brand new Ferrari racer was entered in the 1974 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans by NART for drivers Giancarlo Gagliardi and Jean-Louis Lafosse. At the time, the 308 GT4 had not been fully homologated, so it had to run in the sports car class against purpose built machines like the Matra, Ferrari and Mirage prototypes. NART also fielded two of the ferocious Daytona 'Competiziones', which were eligible to run in the production-based GT class. Gagliardi and Lafosse managed to place the 308 GT4/LM 38th on the grid, which was not bad considering how recently the car had been completed. The race was far from trouble-free and after some early mechanical problems the NART 308 was eventually forced to retired with a broken clutch, 30 laps and 4 hours into the race.
NART returned to Le Mans in 1975 with four distinctly different Ferraris, including the unique 308 GT4/LM. This time Gagliardi shared driving duties with American Harley Cluxton. Chinetti was furious to find the car once again listed as a prototype but failed to convince the organisers it really was a production based GT. Compared to the fastest in its class, the 308 GT4/LM failed to set a fast enough time to be qualified. Chinetti tried to somewhat salvage the situation by re-arranging his driver line-ups at the last minute to allow all of the drivers start. When this did not meet the organisers' approval, Chinetti had enough and withdrew the three remaining NART cars just 80 minutes before the start. This was the very unfortunate end of the racing career of the only 308 GT4 based racing constructed. Page 1 of 1