Over the years, Ferrari has given us many great cars, and the 308 GTS is definitely one of them. With its aggressive body lines and recognizable shape, this roofless 2-seater is a truly timeless classic. And thanks to its responsive engine and agile suspension, this car is also rewarding to drive. So, it’s no surprise that the Ferrari 308 GTS was so popular among buyers, both when it was new and now as an oldtimer. But its most significant impact was how it changed the Ferrari as a manufacturer. And in this article, we will explain why this was so.
The shift in Ferrari’s layout
During the fifties and a good part of the sixties, all road-going Ferrari models had their engines in the front. At that time, a ground-breaking mid-engine configuration was solely reserved for their racing cars. For the most part, this was because Enzo Ferrari believed that such a vehicle would be too twitchy for an ordinary driver to handle. He feared they would be more prone to crashes than a front-engine car, giving the company a bad reputation. Furthermore, Il Commendatore’s opinion was that a front-engine car simply looked better, thanks to its elongated hood and smooth silhouette. And when one looks at elegant models such as Ferrari Daytona, it is easy to see what he was on about.
Still, this would eventually change when Ferrari’s big rival, Lamborgini, introduced the Miura. This was the car that, with its cutting-edge design and modern layout, effectively set the foundations for modern supercars. In addition, it made Ferrari finally switch to the mid-engine configurations for their road-going models. As a matter of fact, the designs of 308’s predecessors, Dino 246 and GT4, were strongly influenced by the Miura. And because this car proved to be a huge success and very popular among drivers, it was only natural for its successor to have a similar layout.
Ferrari 308’s wedge-shaped body
When developing the 308, Ferrari utilized many of the solutions introduced by the Dino. These two cars share some similarities, including the size and overall configuration. Where they differ significantly, however, is the body design. While the Dino had soft and sleek lines, the new 308 featured a more aggressive and sharper silhouette. The man behind the new design was Leonardo Fioravanti, Pininfarina’s brilliant designer responsible for famous Ferraris such as Daytona or Berlinetta Boxer. Although some saw its shape as too radical and futuristic at first, the Ferrari 308 quickly caught on.
Thanks to the fact the engine was not at the front, the hood could be much lower than it would be with a front-engine layout. In addition to improving the aerodynamics, this also gave the car its recognizable wedge-shaped body line. Initially, the Ferrari 308 was only available as a hard-top 2-door coupe, designated as GTB, with B standing for Berlinetta. An interesting fact about these early versions is that they had a body made of fiberglass plastics, which made them light. That, however, changed in 1977, when plastic body panels were replaced with steel ones. This was also the year when the Targa-Top GTS version became available.
The iconic Ferrari V8 engine
The heart of the Ferrari 308, its sprightly 2.9-liter V8, was a part of the versatile Colombo engine lineup. This was a series of engines whose production runs span for almost three decades and introduced many technical innovations. And this is probably most evident with the Ferrari 308 models and their evolution throughout the years. When it was first introduced in 1975, the engines in these cars still had carburetors. With it, the original Ferrari 308 GTB and GTS models had 250 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque, which ensured good performance.
However, such an old school setup didn’t go hand in hand with increasingly tightening emission regulations. This consequently forced Ferrari to switch to fuel injection in 1980, when they introduced the updated GTBi and GTSi models. That helped with fuel economy and emissions, although at the cost of the performance. In addition to a power loss of almost 30 horsepower, the new engine war was also less responsive. Ferrari consequently addressed this issue by redesigning the engine and giving it a cylinder head with a 4-valve DOHC configuration. The new technology increased the power output, restoring losses caused by the fuel injection system and emission control. And more importantly, it ensured a sharper throttle response. This new engine, named quattrovalvole, had its debut in the final iteration of the Ferrari 308 GTS, which was revealed in 1983.
Depending on the model year, the wedge-shaped Ferrari 308 could go from zero to 60 in less than 7 seconds and reach the top speed of more than 150 MPH. The rest of the mechanical underpinnings were also made to go together with such performance and speed. For a start, its suspension, with a double-wishbone configuration all around, was very flexible. This meant it would easily adjust itself to different surfaces, allowing the driver to carry a lot of speed through the corners. Then, there were the brakes, which were sharp and grippy enough to confidently stop it. All that, coupled with precise steering and lightness of the chassis, made the Ferrari 308 an excellent car to drive.
How much does the Ferrari 308 GTS cost today?
The price of any classic car, in general, is set by its desirability, rarity, and general condition. With the production volume of all its variants summing up to approximately 6000 vehicles, Ferrari 308 is definitely not a rare model. However, this is also a popular car among collectors because of its reliability and iconic appeal. This is especially true for the 308 GTS model, whose prices start at approximately $50,000 and go up to $100,000 for cars in mint condition.
Ferrari 308 GTS and its lookalikes
When looking at Ferrari’s lineup of that time, it quickly becomes apparent that the 308 has several seemingly identically-looking cousins. One of them was the 208 model, which was made for the domestic Italian market. The biggest and the only notable difference between these two cars are their engines, with the latter having a small 2-liter V8. This was done to avoid high taxes imposed by the government on cars with larger engines. Obviously, the displacement reduction did hamper the performance, which Ferrari later solved by fitting a pair of turbochargers. The turbocharging route was also used in the legendary 288 GTO. This is the model Ferrari built to compete in the group B rally championship and is widely recognized as their first real supercar.
In the popular culture
Among all of Ferrari’s historic and iconic models, the 308 GTS was the first to have its popular culture section in its Wikipedia page. As most may assume, this is thanks to its appearance in the television series called Magnum. Here, its main character, Thomas Magnum, drove a red Ferrari 308 around the island of Oahu in almost every episode. This, in effect, boosted cars’ popularity, as this crime series had excellent viewings throughout its eight seasons.
Undoubtedly, brand presence and awareness are not the things Ferrari and its cars ever lacked. Due to its sports successes in Europe, the Maranello manufacturer was already well recognized by automotive enthusiasts. But with the Magnum series and the famous red two-seater appearing as basically one of the protagonists, the Ferrari as a brand became present in everyday life.
Ferrari 308 GTS in short
As explained here, the Ferrari 308 weight was a 2-seater sports car made between 1975 and 1985. It was available either as a Berlinetta, called GTB, or Targa-toped GTS. It was also one of the first road-going Ferraris to have an engine in the middle, a configuration then usually reserved for their racing cars. This layout would be used for most future models, as it proved to be popular among drivers.