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Ferrari GT4

Dino the Dinosaur? Published: 2nd Dec 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Fast Facts

  • Best model: A good 308
  • Worst model: Iffy LHD models
  • Budget buy: Projects/208s
  • OK for unleaded?: Needs additive
  • Will it fit in the garage? (mm): L4299mm x W1708mm
  • Spares situation: Generally good
  • DIY ease?: So-so
  • Club support: Very good
  • Appreciating asset?: Starting to be…
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Sharp-suited replacement for the iconic 246 Dino has always been slated – yet is not as bad as you’ve been led to believe and is a great fi rst Ferrari offering strong performance and handling. Plus super value if you buy right

Any car that had to follow in the tyre tracks of the Dino 246GT was always in for a tough time but the GT4 had it harder than most. A sharper styled replacement that provided 2+2 seating, it was a different car to the 246, even though it used the same basic platform, and never gained the same affection. So it was replaced by the ‘Magnum PI’ 308 after less than 3000 sales, which while not exceeding the 206/246 output levels, was still pretty exceptional for a Ferrari! Because the 308 replacement was more what buyers wanted, the GT4 quickly became forgotten and its reputation unfairly tarnished; it’s only now 40 years on that the GT4 is being given its due credit. As your fi rst Ferrari they make a lot of sense and those sharp-suited looks are coming back into fashion. Some Ferrari experts even believe it is the better car than the original Dino – but keep that to yourself…

HISTORY

1973 Designed by Bertone’s Gandini, he took the 246 and stretched the 92 inch platform wheelbase by eight inches to accommodate a new 255bhp 3-litre V8 engine and occasional rear seats, clothed in a very 70’s body style that had a bit of the Lamborghini Urraco about it. It looked like no previous Ferrari and as Pinninfarina was responsible for penning past Prancing Horses, you can imagine the upset it caused… Badged the Dino 308 GT4, it weighed in at 1285kg (200kg over the 246) and cost in excess of £8000 in the UK, as dear as a Jensen Interceptor.

1975 In the wake of the 1970’s Energy Crisis Ferrari was suffering like everybody else so offered an ‘economy’ model – the 208 GT4. Essentially, it was the same car albeit fi tted with a downsized 1998cc V8, yielding around 170bhp. 208s are identifi ed by silver instead of matt black grille and details plus skinnier tyres. That October a Scaglietti-built 308GTB two-seater – based on the GT4 albeit with the original 246’s wheelbase – was shown at the Paris Salon meaning the writing was on the wall for the unwanted GT4, which lost its Dino name a year later. Other than a revised intake early on to cure excessive engine noise (but what a nice noise!), the GT4 received little development afterwards until it was dropped in 1980 – less than 25 were made that year. The 308’s mantle taken over by the 308/328 although the spiritual successor to the GT4, Mondial, surfaced a year later – and, alas, suffers from a similar unfair reputation in Ferrari circles today!

DRIVING AND PRESS COMMENTS

With apologies to contented Triumph owners, the way some enthusiasts bang on about the GT4 you’d think Ferrari made a GT6 rival! Granted, it’s not the most exciting Ferrari ever to be made but it’s not bad either – in fact, some Ferrari experts quietly say that it’s a better car to drive than the iconic Dino, if not to look at or invest in.

What To Look For

  • RUNNING GEAR All gearboxes suffer from the usual Ferrari trait of being cantankerous when cold, but selecting second gear shouldn’t be a problem once the oil has warmed up; fi rst and second synchros wear out first. Clutch wear is no worse than on any other supercar but rarely cheap to replace either. Suspensions pose few inherent problems; just look for the usual deterioration of the springs, shockers and bushes, particularly the front wishbone ones. As on all sophisticated performance cars, the suspension’s geometry is not something the typical fast-fi t can handle, so seek out a specialist.
  • ENGINE The engine is quite robust if serviced properly, although many won’t have had that luxury. The most important thing is to see that the timing belts have been replaced on time; every 30,000 miles and no later is recommended. Make no mistake, this is a massive job costing around £1500 depending upon who does the job. But skip this outlay at your peril because a snapped belt will wreck the engine costing a lot more. Ditto valve clearance settings, which aren’t for the novice. If the engine has to be dropped then it’s best to tackle these jobs plus replace any suspect hoses and so on at the same time. Camshafts wear out quite easily. With the engine hot and running, look for smoke. A light mist is normal but blue signifies bore wear while a whitish fog suggests a head gasket is on the way out. Either of these faults will prove expensive to fix, but overall the V8 is a toughie.
  • GENERAL It’s a Ferrari – but don’t let the badge and a sense of occasion get to you! Treat it as hard-nosed as any other second-hand car. It’s all too easy to get carried away. While GT4s look great value, remember they still need the maintenance and care that’s in tune with their prices when brand new. As these models are hardly the most loved of Ferraris, you will come across a fair few tired examples that are anything but the bargains that they appear under the skin. Before you even start hunting around, check the paperwork and see that there’s some level of service history. Deliberating over a Dino is harder than your average classic so if you reckon that it’s beyond your capabilities then enlist an expert, preferably a well-known specialist. Failing this, the owners club, based in Silverstone, will help you. Click onwww. ferrariownersclub.co.uk for assistance.


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