With Singer Vehicle design indicating they might move beyond reimagining Porsche 911s, we speculate what form a Singer-reimagined Ferrari might take.
The entire team at Drive Cult are fans of the Singer Vehicle Design reimagined Porsche 911s. The comprehensively reworked 964 marries modern technology with classic, early 911 styling. Back in 2013 when Singer exhibited the car in London, I asked Singer boss Rob Dickinson if they would be applying their techniques to any other cars. At the time he indicated that they had enough work with 911s, but a recent interview indicated that Singer maybe considering a reimagined Ferrari.
As a fan of older Ferraris this piqued my interest, and since then I've been speculating what form a Singer Ferrari would take. While it would be safe to assume the new electrical system, weight reducing carbon body panels and modern suspension components that are applied to the Porsches would also be applied to a Ferrari, there are plenty of other issues to consider.
The Porsche 911 makes a great candidate for the Singer techniques due to the continual evolution of the air-cooled models, allowing a 90s car to be used to recreate the style of an earlier model. Ferrari’s model history is much more revolution than evolution, meaning a 90s Ferrari has relatively little in common with the cars of the 60s and 70s.
It is unlikely that Singer would touch the 60s Ferraris, as their huge values are largely based on originality. There is also very little Singer could do to update the cars from the mid-90s onwards. That leaves the cars in the middle: the flat-12 and early V8 Ferraris.
As drivers cars, all of the flat-12 cars (Boxers and Testarossas), the V8 348 and Mondial would almost certainly benefit from reworked suspension, updated electrical systems and weight reduction, but I cannot see where it would be possible to influence the styling on these cars very much. And would customers be willing to pay solely for changes under the skin?
That really leaves the 308 and 328 GTB(S) as the most suitable base cars. There are plenty of these cars available and while prices are rising fast, especially for the very early glassfibre-bodied 308s and end-of-run 328s, the injected and four valve 308s are still reasonably affordable and could easily benefit from the sort of enhancements Singer provides for Porsches.
Singer takes a Porsche 964 and reworks it into something that is inspired by, although doesn’t slavishly copy, the S/T race 911s of the early 70s. For a 308 the early GRP 308s have a very clean style which became subtly but noticeably fussier with each evolution of the model. This is especially true of the US specification models with their larger and heavier bumpers. Singer could simply clean up the later 308 to give it the purity of the early cars, but I suspect they would want to go further.
Obviously the cars could be heavily reworked to become replicas of the rare and very valuable 288GTO but I don’t think Singer is in the business of making pure replicas. I reckon Singer would more likely look at the race and rally Group 4 specification 308s of the late Seventies. With their wheel arch extensions, they have more attitude than a standard 308.
Personally I would want Singer to look at a special 308 built in 1977 built as an aerodynamic study by Pininfarina. Changes included a kickup spoiler on the rear, aerofoils over the buttresses and a deeper front spoiler, with the latter two becoming options on the 308. Most notably the car also gained flared wheel arches, which clearly inspired those on the 288GTO but are less pronounced. The car was finished in an unusual bi-colour combination that emphasised the changes. It has subsequently been nicknamed the Mille Chiodi (1000 nails) due to the (fake) rivets on the wheel arches. The car is featured in the video below (you might want to mute the synth music!)
The flaired arches and ducktail spoiler give the 308 more attitude without sacrificing the svelte looks, and also allow for the fitment of some wide wheels and stickier rubber.
Wheels and brakes
When a standard Ford Focus wears 17-inch wheels, it's surprising to find that the original wheels on a 308 were a mere 14 inches. These rose to 16 inches on later 308s and some examples were fitted with the metric TRX wheels. Today many 308s wear aftermarket rims or rims from later models of Ferrari. The shape can wear up to 17-inch rims, but anything larger and the wheels become cartoonish. I reckon a 17-inch, 5-spoke, deep-dished style rim fitted to the Ferrari Boxer would be perfect.
Larger wheels would also allow for bigger brakes. The Brembo red callipers fitted to the Porsches by Singer would also work well on the 308.
The biggest perceived weakness of the 308 today is that it lacks power when compared with modern cars. The early carburettor-fed euro 308s made a then-respectable 255bhp, but emissions regulations (especially in the States) trimmed the fuel-injected cars back to a mere 215bhp (205bhp in the US). The final QV cars restored some of this lost horsepower, making 240bhp (230bhp US). All of these outputs are less than a decent hot hatchback today, so clearly more power is needed.
It is possible to put the engine from a later 360 into a 308, which would boost the power up to around 400bhp, but that might not be in keeping with the character of the 308, and tuners have already extracted more power from the 308 unit. Carobu engineering in the US has already bored and stroked a 308QV unit out to the same dimensions as those used on a 355 and created what they call a 358RR. The results are up to 347bhp in stage 2 trim from the now 3.5-litre V8. I’m sure Singer’s technical partner Cosworth could produce something similar, and that sort of output combined with a reduction in weight from Singers’ carbon body panels should make for much more exciting performance. I would also want the dry sump oil system installed on early European 308GTBs fitted.
More of a challenge would be upgrading the 308’s five speed gearbox. It was never the greatest of units to use, but it is not possible to use the unit from a later Ferrari. After the 328, Ferrari switched from a transverse engine layout to a longitudinal one. 308s used different gear ratios depending on market and I suspect Singer would want to use the set most closely matched the uprated engine's character. The hydraulic clutch from the 328 would also be a welcome upgrade for the 308.
The interior of a 308 was never a strong point and a re-trim in the high quality materials Singer uses on their Porsches would go a long way to improve things. The updated centre panel of the dashboard from the 328 is neater than that used on the 308, and trimming the dashboard in alcantara like the 288GTO instead of the leather originally used would reduce reflections in the windscreen. Singer might also want to uprate the air conditioning system from that used on the 308.
As for seats, the buckets from the F40 trimmed in leather would provide more support for serious driving, but I would go for the Daytona style seats used on the 288GTO, purely for style reasons.
The vast majority of 308s are the targa-topped GTS model. Fitting an integrated roll cage would also help stiffen the structure on these open cars. Personally I much prefer the shape of the hardtop GTB models and would use one as a base for a Singer Ferrari anyway.
A Singer 911 costs between $300,000 and $500,000 depending on specification. 308s are climbing in value (although they are more affordable in the U.S. than in Europe) and are considerably more than the 964 Singer bases the Porsche on, so it is reasonable to assume a Singer 308 would be closer to or even above the top end of the price range of the Singer 911.
However, the 308's modern equivalent already has a base price in the States of nearly $240,000, with buyers typically adding up to another $100,000 in options. While a Singer 308 would still be more than this, the price differential is closer than the Singer 911 is to a new factory 911. A Singer 308 would also be a far more analogue driving experience than the brilliant but digital 458.
By all accounts Singer has its hands full producing reimagined 911s so a Singer Ferrari is probably a while off. If and when it does appear, and if it comes somewhere close to the ideas that I have detailed above, I would love to be at the front of the queue for one.