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My 1991 Ferrari 328 GTS


Multiple Ferrari owner Len Watson, 63, says low-mileage classic Ferraris have been left idle too long. "They are actually very reliable cars and don't give you any problems, so long as they are used on a regular basis," he says. "The problem is people store them in damp garages and the rubbers perish, the tyres get flat spots and they just become horrible. Very low mileage cars are not as good as some that have much higher mileage."

"I did 70,000 miles in my 328 (1991 Ferrari 328 GTS) - very hard miles - and we only spent about 2000 (about $3875) on repairs in about 12 years." When he says hard miles, he means hard miles, having competed in track days, hillclimbs and classic races. He currently competes in various Queensland Racing Drivers Championship events in a 1980 Ferrari 308 GTB. Next year he intends to compete in the full season.

The retired software company owner from the UK started his love affair with old cars with his first, a three-wheeled British Frisky with a bored-out 250cc Villiers two-stroke motorbike engine in the back. It cost him 18 (about $34) in 1966 and only about 100 were made.

"It was quite unusual as it had a top speed of 70mph (112km/h) forwards and 70mph backwards as well," he says. "I got up to about 40mph (64km/h) in reverse. "The way it went backwards was you stopped it and started the engine in reverse. There were four speeds both ways." He swapped it for a Nash Metropolitan, "then had boring cars for a long time".

The last new car he bought was a 1979 Triumph TR7, then he switched to a Porsche 924 Turbo and in 1983 he wanted to "upgrade" to a 911. "I hated them. Porsches didn't handle at all in the '80s," he said. "My wife said why don't you buy a Ferrari, so I bought a 2+2 Mondial 8 which was a couple of years old," Watson says. "I had it for a year and then bought a 3.2-litre Mondial QV (Quattrovalvole) as a company car. They were expensive but in those times you didn't lose any money on Ferraris."

"However, the classic car bubble started in the late '80s and people were buying cars for silly money, so driving to customers in a classic Ferrari was a bit silly because they thought you were ripping them off. So I went to a Porsche 928 as a company car."

However, the Ferrari bug returned in 1991 when he bought the Ferrari 328 GTS which he used and abused in track days, concours and hillclimbs. "After all, they are only a car," he says."Cars like that which were built conventionally on a chassis, you can replace bits. Today's cars crumple and cost a fortune to fix."

About five years ago Watson migrated to Australia, sold the 328 and brought with him a left-hand-drive F40 which he drove in the Classic Adelaide rally. When he moved to Queensland he couldn't register the car without converting it to right-hand drive. "Being a carbon fibre car it is almost impossible to convert, so I got special permits for a couple of times," he says. "But if you can't drive a car I don't want it, so I sent it back to England and sold it."

He was ‘Ferrari-less’ for about two years and then in 2007 returned to the UK to compete in the classic series and get his international race licence, so he bought a 1980 308 GTB "sight unseen. That was a mistake. The engine was knackered and needed a total rebuild," Watson says. "But I still have it. The reason I have an old Ferrari is that it is eligible for historics and there is more opportunity for historic racing here than conventional racing."

His plan in obtaining an international licence was to race a friend's $15 million Ferrari 250 GTO at Le Mans. However, his friend decided the car was "just too expensive to risk in a race". That thought won't even enter Watson's head as he takes his 328 out on to Queensland Raceway in the inaugural Festival of Italian Motorsport on October 2-4.

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