Meet John: From Painting A Ferrari 308 To Owning One

Meet John: From Painting A Ferrari 308 To Owning One

The Ferrari 308 reached iconic status thanks to its prominent role in the television series Magnum, P.I. But for John Lawson, falling in love with the 308 started on paper, not TV.

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What’s the first Ferrari experience you can remember?

The first I remember seeing one in the flesh was at Maranello Concessionaires in Egham [southwest of London] to photograph a Ferrari 308 for a cutaway art piece in 1984. Then I approached a local owner and he was only too happy to show me the car.

1975 Ferrari 308 GTB

When I was 11, my father took me to the launch of the Aston Martin Lagonda and I remember him telling the salesman that I preferred Ferraris. He wasn’t impressed. As a child, I would cut out pictures in motoring magazines and even the little black-and-white side profile pictures from Maranello Concessionaires.

The Ferrari 308 cutaway piece is currently available in the ROSSO Store.

When did you decide you wanted to own a Ferrari?

Always. It was always my goal. My profession has allowed me to also work for Ferrari garages, owners and PR before I owned one. I have come to realise that I merely look after this car until the next person.

When did you acquire your first Ferrari? What was the experience like?

I purchased my Ferrari 308 on 20 October 2018 from Kent High Performance in Maidstone Kent. It was only the second 308 I had test driven. I knew the garage as they had let me exhibit some of my work there 20 years before.

Ferrari 308 GTS and John Lawson (1)

I had a one-hour briefing on owning the car: spent the first 20 minutes going from first gear to third, check the header tank every time before a journey, watch temperatures and such. It scared the hell out of me! I am not hands-on, and I like to leave that to the professionals.

What’s one thing that’s surprised you most about Ferrari ownership?

How special it is. The car puts a smile on everyone’s face, of all ages. People wave, they stop and chat. Other owners have made it such a sociable experience I didn’t expect it to the level it is. I have got to know the previous owner too.

Ferrari 308 meeting at GTO Engineering

A little Ferrari 308 meeting at GTO Engineering.

My car is serviced at GTO Engineering, where I have seen some of the most iconic cars in the world and to see the work they do is spectacular.

What’s your favourite memory with your Ferrari?

Ferrari 308 GTS at Stonor Supercars VIP parking

There are so many. In my first year, I came second in a local concourse, a fantastic show at Stonor Supercars with the Ferrari Owners Club. But just experiencing the car on those drives out with no particular destination is so special.

If you could have any Ferrari next, what would it be?

1984 Ferrari 288 GTO (1)

The Ferrari 288 GTO ­– my 308 on steroids! It still retains those beautiful lines, but with those added engine and body mods that appeal to the boy-racer in me. But I recently saw the Ferrari 250 Short Wheelbase at GTO Engineering. Those lines… I actually prefer it to the iconic 250 GTO, which I have seen there, too.

Besides Ferrari, what hobbies/interests are you passionate about?

Ferrari 308 GTS at art exhibition

My 308 GTS as the works van! Boot is big enough for easels and artwork.

I paint. This hobby has allowed me to capture some beautiful cars, attend some fantastic car events and have the privilege of seeing my work on the walls of some fantastic collections.

We’d like to thank John for sharing his story! Feel free to follow him on Instagram.

1 comment

  • Jim Ciardella

    Hi John,

    I enjoyed reading your interview and great painting of your car. I have a 1982 308GTSi and share some of your passion.

    I’m author of a book called The Dealer. It’s the story of Ferrari of Los Gatos, a California dealership that became number one in the 1980s. Selling 308’s ignited their run to success, but the book has another interesting twist in that the owner, Brian Burnett’s father, Rex Burnett was a famous cutaway artist in the 1940s and 1950s. He was given credit for starting this way of showing cars from the inside out in the 1948 issue of Hot Rod Magazine. The book displays some of his drawings which are very similar to yours. You can check it out on my website

    Jim Ciardella

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