It all started in the 1970s. My passion for cars as a kid was absolute and completely undiscerning. I was as intoxicated by a Matra Simca Bagheera as I was a Fiat X1/9.
School holidays or family trips abroad were spent bothering car showroom salesmen for brochures, and even yielded the occasional jackpot with an invitation to sit inside.
A random love of all things automotive, clearly, but there was always one marque that stood head and shoulders above the rest. Ne plus ultra. Ferrari.
These were the days before Ferrari memorabilia stores in airports, long before Ferrari-branded shoes and golf clubs. Ferrari was special, exotic and, most importantly, exclusive.
This passion shone undimmed right through into my adult life, and, having taken care of such inconvenient responsibilities as mortgages, started to coalesce into a very real plan for ownership.
A V12 was out – by 2010, when I was ready to dive in head-first, prices for the V12s had already gone stratospheric, and although I’d said my passion was absolute, it wasn’t quite so absolute that I’d consider a 400i.
The decision was easy, dictated not just by budget, but by a genuine veneration for the model – the 308.
Introduced in 1975, its sweeping curves and aggressive lines were, and are, one of Ferrari’s great shapes. Mated to a lusty, 255 bhp transversely-mounted engine, it was all-business.
My search began, and was underscored by a need to curb my boyish enthusiasms and trade them for a methodical, pragmatic approach.
This lasted perhaps twenty minutes, at which point I spotted an advertisement by respected Ferrari dealer Nick Cartwright in Derbyshire. I made the call, jumped in the car, drove up the M1, and bought it. So much for pragmatic and methodical.
The object of my desires was a 1985 308 GTB QV, in silver (Argento) with Bordeaux/Rosso interior. It had done 27,500 miles, and was immaculate in every way. My knees went weak the minute I saw it.
A week later, it rolled out of a transporter and into my life. A passionate four-year affair started that was notable for its endless thrills and complete lack of drama. There was never a moment when I laid eyes on it that my heart didn’t quicken, and a tremor of excitement ran through me every time the Prancing Horse stared back at me from the steering wheel.
I got it into the studio as soon as I could, eager to capture the lines and do it as much justice as I could. I hope the shots convey something of its sublime beauty. One thing is for sure – there isn’t a bad angle.
I’m sure there are those who will say that 255 bhp in a Ferrari is not exactly plentiful. Power in all its forms is addictive and corrupting, but it was plenty for me, and when clothed in a shape as good as this, it’s not really the point. Add to the mix a barking, urgent exhaust note, and a classic open-gate Ferrari gearbox, and the 308 is elevated to one of the very best mid-engined Ferraris of all time.
My beloved 308 has gone now, replaced by a 1965 Lotus Elan S2. It’s not as pretty, and will supply a very different set of thrills. I’m not even sure why I’ve made the change, but I’m absolutely certain of one thing – this won’t be my first and last Ferrari.