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  • The Ferrari 308 GTB: A Timeless Classic

    Ferrari 308 GTB
    Photo credit: Ferrari

    The Ferrari 308 GTB remains a timeless classic.

    Cast your mind back to 1975 in Paris, Europe’s culture capital and epicenter of fashion. At the Paris Motor Show, the historic Salon de l’Automobile, covers are slowly lifted to reveal Ferrari’s newest success.

    There lies the beautiful, modernistic Ferrari 308 GTB. Featuring its ageless, Pininfarina bodywork design by Carrozzeria Scaglietti. Showcasing those vibrant Rosso Chiaro colours and a gloriously-sounding V8 engine. The famous Prancing Horse marque delivers again.

    The motoring press devoured every detail. They loved it. Ferrari’s new 308 GTB gained positive reviews and was a success on its initial launch.

    It would go on to stand the test of time and enjoy its place in popular culture. The soft-top 308 GTS, released in 1980 featuring a targa roof, was the star of 1980s detective television show Magnum P.I. alongside Tom Selleck. Some suggest the GTS was preferred to the 308 GTB to accommodate Selleck’s six-foot-four frame.

    Ferrari 308 GTB: The Affordable Ferrari

    The Ferrari 308 GTB was the long-awaited replacement to the Dino 246 GT.

    The 246 GT, its brand named in memory of Enzo Ferrari’s son who died so tragically young, is one of the greatest looking GT cars ever made. Its curves are infectious: formidable in the motoring world.

    The Italian manufacturer recognized this. Designers incorporated touches of the 246 GT’s features in the new, wedge-profiled Ferrari 308 GTB. The magnificent scalloped air intakes on the side panels and gleaming twin taillights delighted appreciators with a nostalgic tip of the hat to its predecessor.

    For Ferrari, the 308 GTB was a car of firsts. This was Ferrari’s first road car made initially from fiberglass (the front bonnet was aluminium, chassis tubular steel) until steel was reintroduced again in 1977. Similarly, it was the marque’s first non-12 cylinder car to bear the famous Ferrari badge instead of Dino.  

    Affectionately known as the ‘affordable Ferrari’, the 308 GTB had a price tag attainable for many.

    308 GTB: The engine

    The Ferrari 308 GTB boasted a 3-liter aluminium V8 engine fitted with Weber carburettors. The engine was essentially the same design as that in the 308 GT4 and had a capacity of 2926cc, coupled with a sleek five-speed transmission. A fuel-injection system later replaced the carbureted engines in 1980, with the launch of the ‘sportier’ 308 GTBi.

    European models of the Ferrari 308 GTB were fitted with a dry-sump system, while Australia, U.S. and Japanese models adopted the 304 GT4’s wet-sump system.

    Combined with a sports exhaust system, the noise of the V8 is instant and pure: a raw, guttural power. Shifting easily through the gears produces a phenomenal throaty crescendo, maxing at its top speed of around 250 km/h. The sound of the 308 GTB remains just as exceptional today. A tone of automotive history.

    Horsepower depended on region: 308 GTB models produced for European markets measured around the 255 bhp mark. America has stricter emission laws, so power was limited at 240 bhp for the U.S. model.

    The Ferrari 308 GTB became well known for its lower ride and nimble handling, better connecting its fans with the road beneath. Disc brakes ensured higher performance in cornering. This car remains a joy to drive almost 50 years later.  

    A timeless icon

    Iconic Ferrari photographer and graphic design artist Rick McBride best captured the Ferrari 308 GTB’s futuristic yet effortlessly stylish looks. McBride’s famous poster features three horizontal silhouettes on distinctively lit across a black background and portrayed at the same angle: a naked woman, a bottle of vintage red wine and finally a 308 GTB, with the caption ‘Decisions, decisions’ written underneath.

    The price of a Ferrari 308 GTB has risen over time but still remains somewhat attainable in later models. Ferrari made 2897 examples between 1975 and 1980 but many have fallen into a state of disrepair or neglect, while maintenance can be costly.

    Fiberglass examples, known as ‘Vetroresina’, are highly sought by enthusiasts as they were initially built in relatively small numbers.  

    You can own a timeless icon today. This beautiful 1977 Ferrari 308 GTB is in excellent condition and is available now on the Racing Edge Paddock.

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    Magnum PI
    Photo credit: NBC Universal Television