Ferrari 308 GTS
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This year (2005) the 308GTB is 30 (yes THIRTY !) years old !

Copied from the Ferrari Owners web site (  All copyright Ferrari Italy 2005 (c).

308 GTB – 30th Anniversary

It seems quite amazing that it is already 30 years since the 308 GTB made its public debut, as the Pininfarina designed body has stood the test of time well, still looking good and able to turn heads in the street, and even to people who weren’t born when it was introduced, it is instantly recognizable as a Ferrari.
Up until the late sixties Ferrari production road cars had traditionally featured a V12 engine, but the introduction of the Dino series with V6 engines towards the end of the decade changed the situation. The new “small” Ferrari attracted a new blossoming market of youthful buyers, and was a great success in the five year production period, despite an oil crisis and increased speed control legislation worldwide. Although there was the sister Dino 308 GT4 2+2 model with a V8 engine, it was not until the introduction of the 308 GTB in 1975 that the Dino 246 GT had a true successor.

However, perhaps a short resume of eight-cylinder Ferrari engines would not be out of order, as it is 65 years since the genesis of a “Ferrari” with an eight-cylinder engine, which preceded the birth of the company by seven years. In 1940 Enzo Ferrari produced the Auto Avio Costruzioni 815 model, which was powered by an in-line 1500cc eight-cylinder engine. This model would have carried a Ferrari badge, had it not been for the terms of his employment contract severance with Alfa Romeo the previous year, which forbade the construction of a car bearing his name for a period of four years. Thus it was not until after the end of the Second World War that he was able to build cars bearing his name carrying the now legendary "Cavallino Rampante" logo.

For virtually the first decade of Ferrari’s existence there were four-, six- and twelve-cylinder engines of a wide variety of capacities produced. However, it was not until the inheritance of the works Lancia D50 Grand Prix cars midway through the 1955 season, that there was a V8 engine in the model line-up, albeit carrying a Lancia badge. In 1956 these cars were extensively modified, although they were visually very similar to their predecessor, apart from now wearing a Ferrari badge, and carried Juan-Manuel Fangio to his third consecutive World Drivers' Championship title.

The V8 Lancia engine was further developed and used in the 801 F1 car of 1957, whilst there were V8-engined sports racing cars like the 248 SP and the 268 SP of 1962. In 1964 the company's armoury in F1 was the V8-engined 158 F1 model and the flat-12 engined 512 F1, basically the same car apart from the engine configuration. The 158 F1 took John Surtees to the Drivers’ Championship title, and a combination of the two models Ferrari to the Constructors’ Championship in Formula One that year.

The V8 engine then disappeared from the Ferrari line-up for almost a decade, before the concept was resurrected on their first eight-cylinder road car, the 3-litre transverse-engined Dino 308 GT4, which appeared in 1973, and whose engine/transmission assembly was modelled on that used in the Dino 246 GT/GTS models.

This brings us up to the 308 GTB, which shared the same 3-litre V8 engine/transmission layout, and which was presented to the public in October 1975 at the Paris Salon. Although the body style was a then in vogue wedge shape, there were shades of the Dino 246 in the Pininfarina design details, like the door scallops, buttressed vertical curved rear screen and twin paired tail light treatment. It was an instant hit both with the press and the public, and this model and the succeeding V8 models have now formed the backbone of Ferrari road car production for 30 years. The 308 GTB also marked a first in Ferrari road car production as it was constructed with a fibre-glass body, although this construction method was superseded by more traditional steel and aluminium panels in late 1976 for USA market cars, and mid-1977 for European cars. A targa-roofed version, called the 308 GTS, joined the GTB in late 1977, easily identifiable by the black vinyl covered removable roof panel, and black louvred panels over the rear quarter glass.

Less obvious, but certainly more significant, was the fact that the GTB version (with the exception of the American 1978 model year) was equipped with the dry sump version of the engine, whereas the GTS was a straight carry over of the 308 GT4’s wet sump power unit.

In 1980, again due to emission legislation changes, particularly in the USA, a Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system replaced the quad twin-choke Weber carburettor assembly, and this led to a reduction in the power output, as it was still in relatively early stages of development for road car use, but by everyday standards of the time you were still talking about a quick car. The model names became 308 GTBi and 308 GTSi, with this badging appearing on the tail panel, whilst subtle changes to the interior trim, the most noticeable being the change of the instrument binnacle face from an aluminium to a satin black finish, coincided with the change of model name.
For the Italian market a 2-litre version of the 308 series was produced from 1980, initially normally aspirated, called the 208 GTB/S, it mirrored its 3-litre peers in appearance apart from the tail badges and satin black instead of body-colour louvres behind the headlight pods. This was superseded by a turbocharged version in 1982, which was Ferrari's first turbocharged road car, initially only available in closed form, it was designated the 208 GTB Turbo. In 1983 a targa roof 208 GTS Turbo variant became available.

The problem of strangled power was addressed in 1982 with the introduction of the quattrovalvole (four valves per cylinder) models, which redressed the balance of power in Ferrari’s favour whilst still satisfying emission legislation. There were some small external cosmetic changes to the 308 series, the most noticeable being a revised front grille layout with uncovered driving lights in the extremities, the addition of a slim louvre panel across the front lid and the “308 quattrovalvole” tail badge on both GTB and GTS. In the interior there were subtle changes to the seat stitch pattern, which now featured cloth centres as standard, although full leather was still available upon request, and the steering wheel was of a new three spoke design. The concurrent 208 Turbo models also featured the new front lid louvre, but on these models it was painted satin black to match those behind the headlight pods. This model also featured a satin black spoiler at the trailing edge of the roof as standard, which was also available as an option on the 308 Quattrovalvole.

The 308 series also spawned some competition development using the model as a base. A brutal 308 based twin-turbo model was developed by Carlo Facetti to contest the 1980 World Endurance Championship. He called it the Carma FF 308, and while blindingly fast, it suffered from reliability problems, and the project was soon abandoned. More successfully, in the early eighties a series of 308 GTB models were modified by Michelotto of Padova, who have done a large amount of small-series competition development work for Ferrari over the years, to become rally cars. These were raced with considerable success in Italian national rallies, and also by the French importer Charles Pozzi, whose cars included back-to-back wins in the Tour de France Auto amongst their successes. Whilst on the development front, perhaps mention should also be made of another Michelotto creation, the 308 GT/M, of which just three cars were built in 1984. In appearance it was like a scaled-down 512 BB LM, and featured a longitudinally mounted naturally-aspirated V8 engine mated to a Hewland gearbox, whilst the body was manufactured from composite materials. Its basic shape was to be found later in the GTO Evoluzione, which led into the F40 in 1987.

At the 1984 Geneva Salon Ferrari stunned the motoring world when it presented the limited production GTO, with its twin turbo longitudinally mounted 2.8 litre V8 engine producing a claimed 400 bhp. A healthy dose of steroids gave the basically 308 shaped body a muscular stance, with bulging fenders covering split rim wheels, plus deep chin and tail spoilers. There were exhaust air slots in the rear wings, striking an analogy with the front wing slots on the legendary 250 GTO of 1962. The intent of the production run had been to produce the 200 examples required to homologate the car in the group "B" competition category, but then the governing body changed the rules, leaving Ferrari with a car that had nowhere to race. They didn't have to worry, as the model captured their clients’ imagination, and the production numbers stretched from the originally proposed 200 to 272 examples. It would be fair to call this the original supercar, as its success spawned a plethora of limited series models from other high profile manufacturers.

The 308 series production run came to an end 20 years ago, a decade after its introduction, in 1985, when the 328 derivatives were announced at the Frankfurt Salon. A year later the 208s were superseded by the intercooler versions - dropping the 208 moniker to become simply the GTB Turbo and GTS Turbo - which adopted similar bodywork modifications to the 328s, production then ending in 1989.

The 308 GTB was an important model in the history of Ferrari, as it opened up Ferrari ownership to a much wider range of clients, pushing production figures to levels never previously achieved and, as previously noted, it and its successors have been the mainstay of Ferrari production for three decades.

Production Figures
Model Production Period No. Built Chassis # Range
308 GTB (Fibre-glass) 1975 – 1977 808 18677 – 21289
308 GTB (Steel) 1977 – 1980 2185 20805 – 34329
308 GTS 1977 – 1980 3219 22619 – 34501
208 GTB 1980 – 1982 160 31219 – 41329
208 GTS 1980 – 1982 140 31249 – 41265
308 GTBi 1980 – 1982 494 31327 – 43059
308 GTSi 1980 – 1983 1743 31309 – 43079
308 GTB QV 1982 – 1985 748 42809 – 59071
308 GTS QV 1982 – 1985 3042 41701 – 59265
208 GTB Turbo 1981 – 1985 437 41357 – 59277
208 GTS Turbo 1982 – 1985 250 42863 – 59279
308 GTB Michelotto* 1978 – 1985 15 08380 – 31559

* This series were constructed by Michelotto of Padova on chassis from within the production series listed above, except the first which was built on a modified 308 GT4 chassis. Therefore they should not be included in the count of overall numbers built.

Ferrari's Fiorano test track, period photo