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Ferrari 308 & 328

Ferrari 308 & 328 Published: 16th Nov 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ferrari 308 & 328

Fast Facts

  • Best model: 328
  • Worst model: Anything neglected
  • Budget buy: Anything high-mileage or LHD
  • OK for unleaded?: Yes
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): 4230 x 1720mm (L x W)
  • Spares situation: Generally very good
  • DIY ease?: Surprisingly so – in places
  • Club support: Not for parts or maintenance
  • Appreciating asset?: No – prices have dropped
  • Good buy or good-bye?: A great buy – but are values set to soften further?
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Better, more usable and far more affordable replacement for iconic Dino and more durable too but you still need to exercise great care when buying one

You’ll be doing well to buy a decent V6-engined Ferrari 246 Dino for less than £350,000, yet the V8-powered car that followed is available for less than onethird of this fi gure. Such are the vagaries of the classic car market as both of these Ferraris are beautifully engineered, can be exhilarating to drive and look sensational. Which we reckon makes the 308 and 328 something of a bargain.

However, while many of these cars are bought for very occasional use – and frequently for investment value only – there’s no shortage of mid-engined Ferraris that have been crunched and/or neglected over the years. So don’t assume that buying one of these classics will be plain sailing; it’s easy to get things badly wrong, but if you do your homework it’s also easy to land yourself one of the most charismatic and collectible cars ever made, and at prices which appear to be softening so don’t delay.

History

1975 The 308 was the spiritual successor to that icon, the 246 Dino. The looks were perfect, with the wind-cheating shape giving striking muscularity by the two scalloped air ducts running down the doors and then into the 255bhp V8 engine behind which was used in the earlier Dino GT4. Not intended for the UK and rarely spotted outside Italy was a 160bhp 2-litre model. The fi rst 712 cars are made with a glassfi bre bodyshell and they were built by Scaglietti. Of these so-called ‘Vetroresinas’, 154 are right-hand drive.

1977 The original cars were plastic fantastics but this was ditched in favour of a heavier (300lb) rust-prone steel in a sop to the American market who wanted metal for their money. As a result these earlier cars are collectors’ items with prices to match. The same year a targa topped GTS model was introduced.

1981 Tougher emissions regulations forces Ferrari to replace the sexy looking carb set up with an emasculating injection system. Power drops to an undistinguished 214bhp as a consequence. The new models are known as the 308GTBi and GTSi.

1982 Pride and power were duly restored when Ferrari launched a new four-valve cylinder head, bringing the power up to a more respectable 240bhp, albeit still 10bhp down on the original 308s. Now known as the 308 QV (quattrovalvole) the revised model is also built to a much higher standard than before plus better rust protection is also employed.

1985 The 328 replaces the 308, in both GTB and GTS forms. The exterior design is updated and the interior is overhauled too, while there’s now a 3185cc V8 which pumps out up to 267bhp and 224lb ft of torque. More economical than the outgoing unit, the new V8 is also more reliable thanks to the fi tment of Magnetti Marelli electronic ignition. The quicker steering taken from the 288GTO, no less is fi tted. The styling was revised with colour-coded bumpers and fl ush lights, the most notable mods, while the interior was given the biggest makeover with better instrumentation.

1988 Anti-lock braking becomes available.

1989 The 348 supersedes the 328 after 7412 examples of the latter have been built.

Driving and press comments

There will be few complaints by wannabe Dino owners, because the 308 is undoubtedly a better drive. The handling is as taut and tantalising as the looks suggest, the general ride isn’t as jarring as you might expect. Even though some have barely over 200bhp, the 308 remains an old-school powerful mid-engined car; expect from most cars a sprint to 60mph in seven seconds, though the early 308i is slower but 20-25mpg is realistic.

The sonorous-sounding V8 has ample mid-range grunt; this Maranello mid-engined marvel, however, is not a car whose tail can hang out and forgive an average enthusiastic driver so take note. Tall drivers will be penalised by the cabin’s height, cramped footwell and restricted seat travel. For a two-seater, it’s fairly roomy and civilised and the driving position (even on RHD UK cars) is good.

When Car magazine put an early 308GTB through its paces the thing that first struck the unnamed reviewer was that its bodywork was made of plastic, but it was built to such a high standard that you’d never guess it wasn’t steel. More importantly though, the use of plastic bodywork meant the 308GTB was quicker and more agile than its steel-bodied stablemate the 308GT4. Intriguingly, while it’s often assumed that the two- and fourseaters are mechanically identical, the GTB’s fifth gear ratio is higher than the GT4’s, for more relaxed high-speed cruising. “It surges forward with spirit, the tachometer and speedometer needles climbing in unison, and the sound behind your head growing more and more intense, until there is just no more to come. In fact, the speedo was reading just over 160mph, but the tachometer said it was incorrect. At this speed the 308GTB is outstandingly stable. It moves not an inch from the path you have selected, goes unmolested by crosswinds and sits down on the road with a security you can feel through your backside. It’s a good feeling”.

Clearly bowled over by the GTB’s immense talent, the verdict came: “It feels so damned safe all the time; it has decidedly more roadholding than the GT4 and good as that car is, this one is notably better because it has such magnificent balance. This one is a jewel, an absolute honey; a fun car par excellence”.

When the 328 arrived in 1986 the monthly Car magazine was perfectly placed to compare it with its predecessor, as editor Steve Cropley owned a 308 Vetroresina. Pitching the two cars against each other he noticed that the footwell intrusion was much more severe than before, thanks to the need to accommodate significantly wider tyres – the point where things were a bit cramped for the driver who was in real danger of pressing the brake and accelerator at the same time.

Cropley wrote: “The Ferrari 328 is now a genuine 160mph motor car. It will pull that speed on any old stretch of unrestricted autobahn. In fact, it will pull its maximum engine speed which works out at just 161 in reality and around 170mph on the relatively accurate speedometer. But despite the exalted top speed this car is under-geared, if anything. It’s so strong in the mid ranges that you can change from any gear to the next gear at 4000rpm, no matter what the topography or driving conditions, and still be going very quickly indeed.

“On the handling front the 328 is very much reminiscent of its ancestor. It corners neutrally, tending to understeer a little and display hardly any body roll at all as the speeds rise. In ordinary circumstances on dry roads you will not break the tail loose, even by stamping on the brakes in bends. The car just goes around. It has the useful facility of tightening its line neatly when you throttle off in mid-bend, something you’d expect. But, like all mid-engined cars it gives little idea before the event, about its breakaway characteristics which are bound to be abrupt, if only because the car will be going very, very hard when it happens”.

Values and marketplace

Derbyshire-based Nick Cartwright (nickcartwright. com) has been maintaining and selling Ferraris for more than 40 years. Nowadays, he runs the business with his two sons Ben and Jim; all three of them campaign their own 328 in the circuit-based Pirelli Ferrari formula classic race series that’s run by the Ferrari Owners’ Club of Great Britain (ferrariclubracing.co.uk).

Says Nick: “The market has dropped significantly over the past year or so, partly because of Brexit fears I suspect, as this has led to a lack of confidence among those who have the money to buy a Ferrari. So while everybody thinks these cars are all hovering close to the £100,000 mark, the reality is that they can start at little more than half this for something that’s done a high mileage and is looking a little tatty.

“If buying a 308, in terms of appeal it makes no difference whether it’s carburetted or injected, but whether it’s a 308 or a 328 it’s the classic red paint and cream hide that everybody wants. You can buy a 308GTB for as little as £50,000 while the cheapest 328s are £55,000 – but you have to be very careful at this level as you can be buying a whole load of trouble. You’re better off spending £70,000-£80,000 on a car that’s in much nicer condition. The ceiling for a carburetted 308 is £100,000, but if you’re lucky enough to stumble across a low-mileage (no more than 10,000) car you could pay as much as £120,000 – if it’s as good as new and it’s got a full history. The highest values are for mint glassfibre-bodied cars which are now touching £170,000”.

According to Cartwright, while the glassfibrebodied 308s are the most valuable of the lot they’re also the ones most likely to be in need of major restoration as they’re very rot-prone; the bodywork contains a lot of steel panels. Most buyers gravitate towards the 308 because of its more classic looks but the 328 is “in a different league in terms of build quality and usability”. The engine and gearbox are more reliable and the interior is more modern – but it’s this latter point that has many buyers looking at the more olde worlde 308’s cabin.

A properly set up 308 is also better to drive according to Cartwright, while the GTB is rarer and more sought after than a GTS, which is why you’ll pay a premium for a closed car.

Cartwright adds: “If you’re buying a 328 it’s worth going for a car with anti-lock brakes as these have Bilstein shock absorbers rather than the Konis of the earlier model. As a result these later cars are better to drive. Whether you’re buying a 308 or a 328 it can be worth considering a left-hand drive example as these fetch up to 25 per cent less than an equivalent right-hand drive model – at least in the north of the UK. Buyers in the south are less likely to care about which side the steering wheel is on so there’s less of a difference in values between left- and right-hand drive”.

So how does the 328 stack up as a racer? Says Cartwright: “All three of us have been racing our 328s for at least a decade and they have proved to be a great choice as they’re competitive and reliable without the need for making major changes. Ben has been racing for a season more than Jim and me and his car has done well over 100 races in that time.

“He drives it to and from the circuit and despite the hard use that it’s had over the years its engine has never been out for any significant work – and it doesn’t use any oil either. I’d say that’s a pretty good testament to the V8’s strength”.

Improvements

Originality is king for many Ferrari buyers so be very careful before modifying a 308 or 328. As Nick Cartwright points out, attempting to make one of these cars better will probably result in it being less reliable. However, there are a few minor things you can do which can make things even better. If you’re one of those unusual owners who actually wants to drive your 308 or 328 you can fit a set of harder brake pads which will improve pedal feel and give the brakes more bite.

What To Look For

General gen

  • As with supercar, these Ferraris need proper inspections by those who know their stuff – a simple tyre kicking exercise isn’t good enough! If you don’t know what you’re looking for, then enlist an expert as it will save thousands in the long run. Or better still, buy one from them. Failing this the owners’s club, based in Northants, will help you. Click on www. ferrariownersclub.co.uk for assistance.
  • Condition counts for everything and given their relative rarity, don’t be choosy on colour and even whether it’s a 308 or 328 – a service history is what counts. By the same token don’t get too hung up on the fibreglass cars. True, they are lighter and so that bit quicker but while the body can’t rust, the steel structure underneath sure does…

Body beautiful?

 

  • The glassfibre panels of 308 Vetroresinas is well made but the gel coat can craze and the paint is more likely to have faded. More problematic is the tubular steel structure that underpins the bodyshell; this can corrode along with the steel bulkhead and engine bay panelling. The bonnet won’t rust though as it’s aluminium. Actually, Ferrari specialists say that if the plastic body is in such a poor shape, then it can prove as costly and as involved as metal to make it good again.
  •  

  • Steel panelling was used from 1977 but the floorpans were still made of glassfibre. There was no galvanising until 1982 (all 328s were fully galvanised) so if buying an early car analyse the structure very closely for corrosion. Rust can break out anywhere below the swage line and replacement panels are expensive, but the construction means it’s easy to spot corrosion or poor repairs, as long as you check everything from underneath. The outriggers are the areas most likely to have rusted.
  •  

  • Rust can form in the wheelarch lips, the sills and the windscreen surround; also check the spare wheel well, front valance and headlamp pod cavities. The bonnet’s stay can seize which then leads to the panel being forced shut, leading to distortion.
  • The oily bits

     

  • As long as it’s properly maintained the V8 will give 120,000 miles between rebuilds, but a lot of short journeys can slash this in half. The cam belts must be replaced every three years or 20,000 miles but worn cam shafts are likely by the time 90,000 miles have been racked up, which necessitates a topend rebuild. Expect oil pressure of 45-55psi when cruising; anything less and a rebuild is on the cards.
  •  

  • Infrequent use and short journeys tends to lead to exhaust corrosion, while the exhaust manifolds are also prone to cracking because of vibration. Replacing the manifolds is a time-consuming job because of the amount of dismantling that has to be done, so it’s an expensive exercise.
  •  

  • Because so few of these cars cover a significant mileage from one year to the next, gradual deterioration in the condition of the suspension is rarely noticed. Fitting (or overhauling) the shock absorbers and the bushes as well as the springs is likely to transform the dynamics.
  •  

  • 308 and 328 values are dictated in part by the mileage clocked up, but it’s very easy to disconnect the speedometer – although marque specialist Nick Cartwright reckons clocking isn’t too much of a problem. As long as the mileage hasn’t gone down at any point it’s impossible to tell whether or not the displayed mileage is accurate, which is why you need to focus on the condition more than anything else.
  •  

  • The 308 and 328 came with a tough five-speed manual ’box but second gear is out of bounds until the transmission is up to temperature. Few are driven very hard but if abused a clutch can wear out in as little as 6000 miles; if the car is driven more sympathetically it’s possible to get closer to 40,000.
  • Three Of A Kind

    Pantera de Tomaso
    Pantera de Tomaso
    If you fancy going your own way when buying a supercar, the De Tomaso Pantera might suit. This left-field exotic came with a 5.7-litre Ford V8 that’s tough and easy to tune and the car looks sensational. Values have risen sharply over the last couple of years and right-hand drive cars are rare so you might have to settle for something that’s LHD, but buy a good one and its value will only go up.
    Lamborghini Jalpa
    Lamborghini Jalpa
    While everybody drools over the Countach and Diablo, Lamborghini’s junior supercars generally get overlooked. That’s part of the appeal of the Jalpa which was up against the 308 and 328 in period, but now it’s largely forgotten. The mid-mounted 3.5-litre V8 gives 255bhp with performance on a par with the Ferrari but these are rare cars so tracking one down will take some time and patience.
    Porsche 911
    Porsche 911
    If the idea of buying something really unusual terrifies you, the Porsche 911 might be more your thing. There are loads to choose from, specialists abound and even though the rear-mounted flat-six is down two cylinders on the Ferrari’s V8 it’s hardly lacking in pace and brio. The 964 was the contemporary of the 328 while the 930 was up against the 308; to an extent the former is the forgotten 911.


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