From the estate of the late Didier Pironi 1981 Ferrari 308GTBi Berlinetta Coachwork by Pinnifarina Chassis no. 35405
He learnt to fly an aeroplane at 15 and passed his test the following year he was a promising swimmer who represented the Sorbonne in competition, he skiis like a pro, calmly takes part in offshore powerboat racing, pulverises opponents with a racquet, and lifts 120kg without breaking a sweat he is an all-round sportsman. Thats how Italys LUomo magazine described the debonair blonde Grand Prix driver Didier Pironi in 1980. Born into a wealthy background in Paris in 1952, Pironi brought a single-minded determination to his quest to become Frances first Formula One World Champion. Starting his professional career racing Formula Renaults in 1972, Pironi battled up to Formula 2 in 1977 where he caught the attention of F.1 veteran Ken Tyrrell, who snapped him up to partner fellow Frenchman Patrick Depailler in his Grand Prix team for 1978.
Pironi immediately confirmed his potential by scoring points in four of his first six races in a season which also saw him uphold French honour by winning the Le Mans 24 Hours for Renault. The French national team wanted him to drive for them in 1979 but Ken would not release him, so Pironi spent a second year with Tyrrell before joining Ligier for 1980. That year saw Pironi beat eventual Championship winner Alan Jones to take victory in Belgium. He also led Jones in Monaco before retiring but finished a strong second in his home French Grand Prix. At seasons end he was recommended to Enzo Ferrari to succeed former World Champion Jody Scheckter, a challenge he willingly assumed. Arriving in Maranello at the start of the 1981 season to partner French Canadian star Gilles Villeneuve, Pironi was to enjoy one of the first rewards of driving for the Scuderia: a brand new, bright red Ferrari 308GTBi, Maranellos newest model, as official transport.
Over the next two years Pironi and Villeneuve wowed the crowds on track in their single seater 650bhp Ferraris, but their rivalry off the track was also fought in duels on the road. Pironis widow Catherine recalls: Didier used to drive from Maranello to most of the European Grands Prix, like Gilles, and they were each given the same company cars. Both were determined to get there first, and being a passenger required nerves of steel. They would overtake in the emergency lane once we were even chased by a police helicopter. They lived life at full speed.
Tragically Villeneuve lost his life in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix in 1982 and Pironi, having missed out on the F.1 World Championship by a single point, saw his career ended by an horrific accident in practice at Hockenheim. Restless for a competitive challenge after years of painful operations to repair his damaged legs, he returned in earnest to the equally spectacular and dangerous- sport of powerboat racing. On 23rd August 1987, whilst challenging for the lead in one such race near Cowes, his boat flipped over and Pironi and his two crew members were killed.
Since then Didier Pironis Ferrari 308GTBi has been cared for by his widow Catherine, who has added very few of the 26,991km which the car has covered from new. Initially registered MO*510433 to Ferrari Esercizio Fabbriche Automobili e Corse (the original Italian log book is supplied), the car was then imported to her native France by Catherine and, when she later moved to Switzerland, it came with her and is now registered here. Major maintenance has been carried out by Pozzi in Paris and Ferrari (Suisse) in Geneva: the latest service bill, including a cam belt change, dates from 30th October 2005. Never restored and presented in full running order- its first owner would have expected nothing less- this Ferrari 308GTBi (one of just 494 built) is a low mileage example of a landmark model with an illustrious and unique history. If only it could talk.