Engineers at Ferrari were tasked with a new project in the early 1970s. However, this project was to develop a worthy successor to replace the Dino 206/246.
Dino 206/246 was a supercar with a mid-engine rear-wheel-drive layout and featured a very beautiful timeless body design. It was undoubtedly, one of the best performing supercars of its time. It had a better interior and better accessibility when compared to the other supercars of its time.
However, Dino 206/246 never came with a prancing horse badging as Enzo Ferrari developed it as a low-cost supercar to compete against Porsche 911. According to him, Dino 206/246 wasn’t a true Ferrari as it wasn’t good enough to compete against its rivals such as the Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini, and Aston Martin.
Ferrari with the success it had in racing as well as in commercial terms, decided to develop a new successor to replace the aging Dino 206/246. When the engineers were tasked with developing a new successor, they decided to start with a clean sheet, and everything about the car was to be reinvented and to be upscaled.
The 2.4-liter Lampredi V6 proved to be more than enough to power the Dino 206/246. But this was the 1970s, and to convince the public, they had to come up with a new engine and they wouldn’t settle for anything less than a V8.
Ferrari Dino 308 GT4
Enzo Ferrari was impressed with the wedge-shaped concepts unveiled by Bertone, so the Bertone design house was chosen for styling the car. That would prove a controversial decision as Ferrari enthusiasts criticized the lack of classic elegance of the previous Ferrari cars.
Ferrari 308 GT4 also marked a massive leap in terms of engine design. The V8 engine had a vee angle of 90 degrees, a bore, and a stroke of 81x71mm. The capacity of the engine was measured at 2927cc, or a little under 3.0-liters. This engine was used to power the Formula one cars at the time as well. The decision to choose this engine was due to the fact that it would be far easier to equip in a race car than Enzo Ferrari’s favorite V12 Colombo units.
The lightweight yet stronger alloy construction along with belt-driven four camshaft setup of the engine was a driver’s wet dream coming true. The engine was capable of free-revving as well. Ferrari further mated fuel injection and four double-choke Weber 40DCNF carburetors for better efficiency at power management.
The engine was then mated to a five-speed manual gearbox to deliver the power to the rear wheels.
All these changes made the 16-valve engine delivering a maximum power output of 255 horsepower at 7700rpm and a sonorous soundtrack. The maximum torque was rated at 210 lb-ft at 5000rpm.
Ferrari 308 GT4 was compact, as it was supposed to be a Dino and a Dino should be smaller than the average Ferrari supercar. It was 4320mm longer and 1800mm wider.
The curb weight of the car was measured at 1150kg.
Despite the 255-horsepower maximum power output, the lower curb weight resulted in excellent power to weight ratio. Ferrari engineers soon realized that the performance of this car was truly befitting of a Ferrari. Unlike the Dino 246, the Ferrari 308 GT4 could reach a top speed of 150mph and 0-60mph was achieved in less than seven seconds.
Ferrari was convinced that it had the right car for the right time. During the final stages of the development, it was decided to make it more grown-up to compete with even more powerful versions of the Porsche 911s that were just unveiled to the market.
Maserati unveiled its supercar Merak in 1972. Maserati was now under the ownership of Citroen. Maserati Merak was equipped with a 190 horsepower Citroen SM engine. It was clear that the Maserati Merak was also a junior supercar gunning after the Porsche 911.
Ferruccio Lamborghini ordered his engineers to develop a new baby supercar and it was unveiled at the 1973 Turin Auto show. Lamborghini Urraco was equipped with a 2.5-liter V8 delivering 220 horsepower.
Scaglietti was chosen to build the bodies of the Ferrari 308 Gt4.
The suspension setup featured independent coil springs and double wishbones, anti-roll bars, and telescopic dampers in the rear and front.
All-around disc brakes were included as standard to improve braking and cornering.
Dino 308 GT4 was first unveiled to the public at the Paris Auto Salon in October 1973.
The Dino 308 GT4 with its Formula 1 derived engine provided a new template for a four-seat transverse mid-engine layout. This was the first transverse mid-engine car made by Ferrari.
The styling of the Dino 308 GT4 wasn’t well-received by the Ferrari enthusiasts as the Carrozzeria styled Lamborghini Urraco looked suspiciously similar to the Bertone-designed Ferrari 308 GT4.
Ferrari enthusiasts criticized the car for its modern wedge design elements and mainly the lack of the elegance of the classic Ferrari cars. Classic Ferrari cars had a charming chic aura attached to them and the Dino 308 GT4 never had that charm, to begin with.
All these controversies ended up making the Dino 308 GT4 relatively less successful in commercial terms despite the practicality and performance potential of the car.
Finally, the Ferrari had to accept the inevitable and from later 1976, Dino branding was dropped and all the Dino 308 GT4s were given Ferrari badges.
Due to the financial downturn caused by the 1973 World energy crisis, the sales were slowing down and the market for high-performance fuel-hungry cars was dramatically declining.
Ferrari decided not to take a risk due to this and decided to further develop the car.
In 1976, a 2.0-liter 208 GT4 was unveiled, to bypass the massive tax imposed by the Italian government for all cars over 2000cc engine capacity due to the energy crisis. Ferrari 204 GT4 was underpowered and overweight resulting in poor performance figures.
Meanwhile, Bertone was tasked with having another try at styling the Ferrari 308. This resulted in the development of the two-seater Rainbow concept which was unveiled at the 1976 Turin Auto Salon.
Ferrari Rainbow concept by Bertone was well received by the public, but it wasn’t picked up as Ferrari was already developing the Ferrari GTB to replace the Ferrari 308 GT4.
A total of 2826 Ferrari 308 GT4 cars were sold, so it wasn’t that much of a sales disaster for Ferrari as some think it was. However, it is sure that Ferrari 308 GT4 never achieved its true potential.
In the end, it was replaced with the Pininfarina-styled Ferrari Mondial 8.
Ferrari 308 GTB
Ferrari 308 GTB was developed to be better in every possible way than the outgoing Ferrari 308 GT4. Ferrari 308 GT4 was developed from the start to become a Dino, as Enzo Ferrari was reluctant to consider it as a true Ferrari. When the development of the Ferrari 308 GTB began, it was always meant to be a Ferrari.
Ferrari 308 GTB was unveiled at the 1975 Paris Auto Show. The boxer-like design was different from the wedge designs and the origami styling that dominated the automotive industry in the 1970s.
The elegant styling of the Ferrari 308 GTB was a clear tribute to its predecessors and was capable of capturing that classic chic aura possessed by the classic Ferraris. Leonardo Fioravanti was the man behind the design of the car.
More importantly, Ferrari 308 GTB was a landmark for Ferrari. It was the first Ferrari-built car to feature a fiberglass body. Scaglietti was in charge of the creation of the body for this car as well. Ferrari experts widely praised the work done by Scaglietti for excelling itself by creating resin work to a level that someone had to tap the bodywork to understand that it was fiberglass, not aluminum/ steel.
Leonardo Fiorvanti previously designed Ferrari Daytona. Just like the Ferrari Daytona, the Ferrari 308 GTB also looked absolutely right.
The practicality of the car was the main concern when Marcello Gandini at Bertone designed the Ferrari 308 GT4. Leonardo Fiorvanti was given the freedom to indulge himself without such limitations, and that allowed him to conceive the magnificent Ferrari 308 GTB. This is why the two-seater Ferrari 308 GTB was longer but had a shorter wheelbase than the four-seater Ferrari 308 GT4.
Ferrari 308 GTB had little interior space and was more suitable for people who were using it to travel once in a while or short distances. There was little storage space for luggage. The driver’s seat and the passenger seat were completely separated by the broad central tunnel in the cabin.
The mechanical underpinnings of the Ferrari 308 GTB were similar to the Ferrari 308 GT4. The suspension setup was independent coil springs and double wishbones along with anti-roll bars and telescopic dampers in both rear and front. Disc brakes were provided for all wheels.
The 3.0-liter Ferrari dual overhead cam, 16 valve V8 with four Weber 40DCNF carburetors still maintained its transverse layout and was mated to a five-speed gearbox with a limited-slip differential to channel the power to the rear wheels.
The maximum power output of the powertrain was rated at 255 horsepower at 7700rpm and maximum torque of 210 lb-ft at 5000rm. Despite delivering the same amount of power and torque as before, the engine in Ferrari 308 GTB was given a larger dry-sump unit. The reason for this is because, Ferrari was looking forward to using the Ferrari 308 GTB to compete in silhouette racing events, this was considered as a precaution against oil surges generated during hard cornering. This larger dry-sump unit also improved cooling. It also reduced engine height, allowing Ferrari engineers to fit a KKK turbocharger if they feel the urge to do so.
Fiberglass bodywork helped to keep the weight down as much as possible. Ferrari 308 GTB had a curb weight of just 1090kg. In comparison, Ferrari 308 GT4 had a curb weight of 1150kg.
With a total curb weight of just 1090kg, the power to weight ratio was improved over the Ferrari 308 GT4. The maximum top speed was measured at 154mph. Acceleration from 0-60mph happened in 6.5 seconds, making it seriously quick and almost as quick as the Lamborghini Countach. 0-100mph was achieved in 17 seconds. It also ran the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds with a top speed of 93mph.
When comparing these performance specs with the figures of the Porsche 911 Turbo 3.0 and De Tomaso Panthera, both cars were capable of accelerating as quickly as the Ferrari 308 GTB, but neither could match the excellent fuel consumption of the Ferrari with its 20mpg.
The all-independent suspension setup had minimal wheel traveling and this resulted in compromised ride quality at low speeds. When traveling at high speed, the car was more balanced and sharper, allowing the driver to enjoy high-speed driving with excellent steering and ride quality. However, the turning radius was around 40ft, making it difficult to park or to use in limited space.
In 1977, Ferrari decided to replace the fiberglass body with a traditional steel body, yet the tubular chassis still remained unchanged along with all the mechanical components.
Ferrari 308 GTS
Ferrari 308 GTS was designed by Pininfarina. This car featured a spider body style and it was available alongside the Ferrari 308 GTB.
Both Ferrari 308 GTS and Ferrari 308 GTB continued to evolve and in 1981, fuel injection was chosen to replace the four Weber carburetor set up to improve efficiency and reliability. This decision also resulted in a significant power loss. Now the maximum power delivery was rated at 214 horsepower when compared to the previous 255 horsepower.
Fuel inject setup made the car more efficient, environmentally friendly, and more reliable. This secured the Ferrari 308 GTB’s place in markets with strict emission regulations such as the USA and Switzerland. However, the loss of 41 horsepower ended up ruining its reputation.
The fuel-injected Ferrari 308 GTB was known as the Ferrari 308 GTBi and the fuel-injected Ferrari 308 GTS was known as the Ferrari 308 GTSi.
In 1982, Ferrari decided to replace the Ferrari 308 GTBi and Ferrari 308 GTSi with the performance-oriented Quattrovalvole.
Quattrovalvole featured an updated engine setup. The classic V8 engine received a pair of four valve-heads, the compression ratio was raised to 9.2:1. These modifications resulted in a significant power boost and now delivered 240 horsepower at 7000rpm. Now, the Ferrari 308 GTB was capable of achieving 150mph.
Both Ferrari 308 GTB Quattrovalvole and Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole models featured Michelin TRX tires.
Ferrari 308 GTB and Ferrari 308 GTS were Ferrari’s best sellers. Total sales figures are as follows.
Ferrari 308 GTB was launched to correct the mistakes done when developing the Ferrari 308 GT4. Ferrari 308 GTB set the template for future Ferrari supercars due to its commercial success as well as its reputation as a proper performance car.
By the mid-1980s, Ferrari’s opposition looked very different than it had done in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Lamborghini Jalpa, a variation of the Lamborghini Urraco, had severe build quality issues and ended up ruining Lamborghini’s reputation as a serious supercar manufacturer. To begin with, Urraco was already aging and offered not enough performance to compete with the likes of Ferrari.
Maserati gave upon its supercar business to focus on the Biturbo range as it was more profitable to do so. Alfa Romeo was focusing on entry-level performance cars and luxury cars. Lancia was on the verge of bankruptcy due to the bad press coverage it received from the press for rusting away vehicles.
Lotus had success with the Lotus Esprit supercar. Lotus Esprit was well received for its performance. Despite its small engine capacity, the forced induction system boosted the power output to a level that was enough to outperform many serious contesters.
It is safer to say that Ferrari had dominance on the supercar market and pretty much had the supercar market to itself. Despite that, the Ferrari refused to take things less seriously. To ensure that its entry-level junior supercar remained a force to be reckoned with in the supercar market, they decided to develop a worthy successor to the Ferrari 308 Quattrovalvole.
In 1982, Ferrari unveiled turbocharged and forced inducted Ferrari 208 GTB and Ferrari 208 GTS for the Italian market. These cars were only available in the Italian market where serious tax penalties were force upon higher engine capacities.
Ferrari 328 GTB and Ferrari 308 GTS
When Ferrari decided to upgrade the Ferrari 308 Quattrovalvole, they decided to stick to what they knew despite their extensive knowledge of Formula One turbocharging and forced induction technologies. This decision was taken to minimize the possibility of lessening the demand for Ferrari’s by offering a familiar product.
Due to these decisions, despite the Ferrari 328 GTB and Ferrari 328 GTS being substantially different cars, it was still very similar to its predecessor in mechanical terms.
Pininfarina was chosen to style the new Ferrari 328 GTB and Ferrari 328 GTS. Pininfarina was tasked with modernizing the basic design through subtle changes to update the looks without taking away its elegance. Ferrari 328 GTB and Ferrari 328 GTS were very similar in shape, but most of the sharp edges of the predecessor were smoothed to give it a sleeker and aerodynamic design. Though it looked shorter, it was almost half an inch taller.
The 1980s saw massive changes in the automotive market. The performance was in demand across all market sectors, and even the average Italian family cars were now capable of achieving 120mph. To maintain the junior supercar image, Ferrari had to do better than that. The only viable solution was to give the car more power.
The classic V8 engine was increased up to 3185cc capacity by enlarging boring and stroking 83×73.6mm. Like the Ferrari 308 Quattrovalvole, Ferrari 328 GTB and Ferrari 328 GTS also featured a Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system. To improve the reliability of the fuel injection system, a Marelli MED 806A electronic ignition system was installed.
Already aging but proven five-speed manual gearbox was chosen to deliver the power to the rear wheels.
All these modifications resulted in a maximum power output of 270 horsepower at 7000rpm and maximum torque of 224 lb-ft of torque at 5500rpm.
The suspension setup was largely unchanged. Both front and rear feature independent coil springs and double wishbones, anti-roll bars, and telescopic dampers.
Vented disc brakes all around Improved braking and handling.
Total curb weight was measured at 1263kg.
Additional power and torque output resulted in excellent acceleration and an increased top speed. Top speed was now recorded at 163mph and the 0-60mph was achieved in 6.3 seconds. These performance figures were similar to the performance figures of the original Ferrari 308 GTB.
Ferrari 328 GTB and Ferrari 328 GTS were unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1985. Soon the press and the public alike expressed their appreciation for the new cars.
Ferrari Testarossa, the flagship supercar of the Ferrari, was unveiled in the previous year and it was also paying homage to the classically elegant Fioravanti shape. Ferrari 328 GTB and Ferrari 328 GTS were also designed to retain the visual styling of the Fioravanti shape. It was clear that Ferrari respected tradition while being faithful to its customers.
Ferrari 328 GTB and Ferrari 328 GTS were given all independent suspension along with uprated Koni dampers to improve the handling and the ride comfort, allowing the driver to get the maximum benefit of all available power.
To improve handling and ride further, both Ferrari 328 GTB and Ferrari 328 GTS were equipped with lower profile Goodyear NCT 205/55VR 16 tires in the front and 225/50VR 16 in the rear.
Ferrari 328 GTB and Ferrari 328 GTS were the final evolution of the Ferrari 308 lineup.
308 Lineup started with the controversial Ferrari 308 GT4 back in 1973. When Ferrari unveiled the Ferrari 308 GTB with more elegant looks, it soon became its bestseller.
Ferrari 328 series remained in production continuously right through until its successor was unveiled in 1989.
A total of 6068 Ferrari 328 GTB and GTS cars were built within its four-year production run. During the production, both cars received minor updates to improve performance and reliability.
Ferrari 348 replaced the aging Ferrari 328 and continued where the Ferrari 328 left off. Four-seater Mondial was discontinued due to lower demand.