History of the 1982 - 1985 Ferrari 308 GTB
The Ferrari 308 is a mid-engined 2-seater sports car designed by Leonardo Fioravanti at Pininfarina. Available in coupe (Berlinetta or GTB) and convertible (Spider or GTS) the 308 originally had a fibreglass (‘vetroresina’) body, but this was soon replaced with steel.
The 308 broke new ground in a number of ways. It looked as though U.S. emissions and bumper regulations were going to eliminate the current V12s and fragile 246 Dino monocoque from the profitable American market, so Enzo took a middle path. The Dino’s successor would have a 2,927 cc 4-cam V8 motor – the first in a Ferrari road car –and a separate frame.
The 308 appeared initially at the 1973 Paris Salon as the Bertone–bodied 308 GT/4 2+2, an blunt wedge with an undesirable back seat, which nevertheless sold 2,826 examples in four years.
The GT/4’s cousin would be a different proposition. The Ferrari 308 GTB two-seater, with bodies built by Carrozzeria Scaglietti appeared in 1975 and the first 712 were fibreglass, a groundbreaking move for Enzo Ferrari. Early 308 GTBs also had dry-sump engines, although the targa-top GTS from 1977 did not. The 308 boasted 240 bhp and 150 mph top speed and proved durable and popular. In all, 2,185 GTB Berlinettas were sold in four years and 3,219 GTS Targas.
There were bumps along the way, however. Some cars sold in 1980 and 1981 suffered horrendous oil consumption and many were rebuilt under warranty. Make sure you have full documents for cars from these years. Another nuisance was the use of metric Michelin TRX wheels and tyres,
The final variation of the 308 was the four-valve “Quatrovalvole” cylinder head of 1983-85, which breathed much more smoothly. Along with the fuel injection, the 308 could now be driven around town without fouling plugs and pull cleanly from 1,500 rpm to 7,700 rpm in fifth gear. There were 748 308 GTB QV Berlinettas built, and 3,042 GTS QV Targas.
When buying a Ferrari 308, care should be taken to look through the service history. The 308 was an inexpensive car for a long time, and owners may not have invested as much in full servicing as is necessary to prevent problems. Water pumps and timing belts and tensioners should be regularly changed, and failure to properly maintain cars can lead to premature failure and expensive bills. Cars sold in 1980 and 1981 had a problem with excessive oil consumption and many were rebuilt under warranty. Gearboxes are good but second gear synchros can fail.
Metric Michelin TRX tyres were used, which are expensive and difficult to source, although most owners have replaced these with 14-inch Cromodora wheels from earlier cars, or 16-inch wheels from later cars. Inside, the leather can be fragile and brittle. The metallic paint is also fairly fragile.
Recently the Ferrari 308 has experienced a growth in popularity due to its classic 1980s styling and association with legendary 1980s popular culture icons such as Tom Selleck (Magnum PI) and Christine Brinkley. The GTB Berlinetta tends to be more collectable than the GTS Spider, and the early Vetroresina (GRP) cars are the most sought-after.
Alternative cars made by Ferrari are the earlier Ferrari 308 GT4 Dino, the Ferrari Mondial, the Ferrari 208 GTO and the later Ferrari 328. Similar cars of the time include the Maserati Merak, the Lamborghini Countach and Lamborghini Jalpa.