Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ferrari 308 GTS - a great car, not just for Magnum PI

The Ferrari 308 GTB (and later GTS) was the first 8 cylinder street car Ferrari built honored with a Ferrari badge. The 308 GT/4 still had the Dino batch when presented. For timing reasons the Ferrari 308 GTB was initially built with a fiberglass body, helping to reduce weight and corrosion issues as well. With 808 cars built it's the rarest of the breed. However soon after production was changed and all 308 GTB/GTS produced after 1977 had a steel body. The Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS was a huge success, in total Ferrari built 6'116 cars between 1975 and 1980, pretty much half of them were the open targa version 308 GTS.
The 308 GTS became very famous in the US because the TV series Magnum PI showcased this car. Initially they wanted to use a Porsche 928, but Porsche couldn't deliver an open version. So Ferrari filled the gap and despite the fact that a tall man like Tom Selleck barely fitted into the car.
It is a typical Italian car of the seventies. You feel this when you try to adjust controls and seating position. You are forced in kind of a frog position, but despite the smallish seats it's quite comfortable. The car was actually more spacious than the later Ferrari 348 due to the way the engine was inserted.
And whatever you may have been told, it was a fairly reliable car, able to cope with long journeys. And the sound was, thanks to the Weber carburetors, much nicer than later cars.

It was my first Ferrari and I adored it. It felt at home on any road, be it the Monza circuit, highways or serpentines in the mountains. Fuel consumption was certainly not its strength, but who would see this as an important criteria for such a beautiful car? The design of the Targa version was specifically clever with the small windows covered in black - the driver could see through them, but from the side they seemed to be nontransparent.

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