We take a ride from the bustling city streets of Bangkok to the winding rural roads just outside the capital in Chayanin Debhakam’s Ferrari 308 GTB.
In Thailand, just catching a glimpse of a Prancing Horse out of the stable is a rare occasion, but Chayanin’s choice to daily drive his Ferrari is what elevates his enthusiasm for the marque. Before you can see one in the wild though, the car needs to be brought in first, and sourcing a Ferrari in the BKK is an entirely different challenge for these buyers.
“The 308 GTB is the Ferrari that I grew up with and it was the first Ferrari I ever saw,” says Chayanin. When it came time to find a Ferrari of his own, he reached out to the president of the Ferrari Owners Club of Thailand, who was able to find the car that Chayanin now drives so often. “He finally found one and it was exactly what I was searching for.”
Once he had the Rosso-Corsa-on-crème GTB parked in his garage, Chayanin did some research and discovered the car was originally Fly Yellow over black leather—another victim to “resale red.” This is when his quest for perfection began, “I wanted to restore the car back to the original factory standard.”
Using some extra workspace at his office, Chayanin (with repair manual in hand) got to work. Singlehandedly tackling this project would have been tremendous, but Chayanin fortunately has a group of enthusiast friends who brought their individual talents to the table. Chayanin humbly admits, “Some of them have different skills than me. I don't know everything [and] cannot do everything myself, so having extra help and knowledge is great.”
In recent years, tracking down correct 308 parts has become quite the task, but Chayanin was unwavering in achieving his vision, stating that his ultimate goal was to have it drive and feel as it did when it left the factory. His obsession to return the car back to factory spec went as far as buying a new old stock (NOS) exhaust system to ensure the Italian eight-cylinder audio system was accurate. Finally refinished in flashy Fly Yellow with beautifully stitched black hide inside, Chayanin’s 308 GTB is back to the way Maranello intended it to be.
For many, pouring so much time and money into such a serious project would make driving the car an overly cautious event only to be indulged on occasion and only under ideal circumstances. But, as you can see in the film, Chayanin has no problem revving-out his favorite Ferrari, getting tail happy in the empty forest-lined roads—after all, it is his everyday 308.
Superamerica comes from a Ferrari tradition in naming one-off or limited production cars with special names, in this case, taken from the famous 12 cylinder Superamerica cars built between 1956 and 1961. What makes the Ferrari 575 Superamerica special is an electronically controlled Revochromico rotating hardtop that with a flip of a switch, rotates the roof to over and onto the trunk, to a lie flat position, leaving the owner with the ability to enjoy their car no matter the weather.
Pull down the locking handle, pull the little toggle switch on the center console, and voila, the roof rotates back and snugly flat into place in just 10 seconds.
As well, that rotating roof holds another trick; the transparency of the glass can be controlled by varying the amount of electric current running through it. From fully opaque to nearly clear in a matter of minutes is all controlled by a button. The already monster 5.7 L 12 cylinder 575 motor was bumped up from 508 HP to 533 HP by reducing the back pressure to the exhaust system, and now that famous 12 cylinder note is so much more enjoyable with the top down. Ferrari build sheets state the 575 Superamerica weight at 200 lbs. more than the coupe due to structural strengthening, but the added horse power makes up for the increased weight and the Ferrari 575 Superamerica accelerates from zero to 60 MPH in a scant 4.2 seconds with the F-1 transmission.
Billed as the fastest convertible in the world, at 199 MPH, it certainly lived up to the title.
Only 559 Superamericas were built, and their low production numbers and unique design make them very sought after by sports car enthusiasts.
Blending the romance of a convertible with the practicality of a coupe, the Superamerica is a truly rare collectible.
This week we take a turbocharged, all-wheel drive ride in Volker Gehrt’s 1985 Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2 replica through the rural roads just outside the central German state of Thuringia.
Years ago while attending an auto show with his wife, Volker found an Audi Sport Quattro rally car scale model for sale at a vendor’s booth. Always a proponent of Audi’s iconic gravel and tarmac racer, Volker purchased the die-cast and made the little Group B toy a tasteful desk ornament. Over the course of countless days spent working in his office with the model nearby, Volker found himself infatuated with the idea of building a full-sized tribute.
“With time I thought that there must be a way to build the car. I had to find a way to do it,” says Volker. Coincidentally and initially unbeknownst to him, Volker happened to cross paths with Roland Gumpert—the leading engineer behind Audi’s famous AWD drivetrain. After becoming acquainted with the Grandfather of Quattro, one day the two enthusiast friends started chatting about cars, reminiscing on the Golden Era of Rallying.
That’s when Volker proposed building an accurate tribute to the most extreme version of the various Group B Quattros. Gumpert ecstatically agreed to assist, using his motorsports connections to source parts and manuals needed to properly recreate the racing identity of the homologation hero. It was decided that the build would pay homage to the E2 iteration that Walter Röhrl drove to victory in the 1985 Sanremo Rally—Audi’s first and only ‘85 WRC season win.
To make the recreation all the more special, Gumpert made a surprise arrangement to have Walter Röhrl meet with Volker during the build. “I’ll never forget when he arrived,” reflects Volker. “He stood in front of the car and said, ‘Mr. Gehrt, I feel like I am having déjà vu. I am taken back to Audi Sport looking at my winning car.’” Humbled, Volker smittenly states, “That is one of those stories I’ll never forget.”
Proudly wearing Röhrl’s Sharpie’d inscription across the roof, Volker’s dream Quattro recreation has been finished to resemble Röhrl’s original racer down to the finest details. From every sponsor vinyl, light, toggle switch, and bolt, everything has been carefully selected and painstakingly assembled to appropriately revive and reverberate the original legend.
Once dreamy-eyed over rolling his model Audi Quattro across his office desk, Volker now gets to live his flame-spitting, gravel-slinging, Group B fantasy behind the wheel of his very own life-size car. “The feeling I get when I put on a racing suit, a helmet, and then just start the engine, it always gives me goosebumps.”