This is something I get asked on a regular basis, so to save my
fingers from wearing away, here's my 2p worth ! Please note, whilst a lot of the
following would be backed up by everyone, some comments and thoughts are
personal opinion, based on personal preference and 2 years of living with a 308.
So no "I dont agree with you" emails please !
Which Model ?
Carb, injection or QV (quattrovalve) ?
Well, first off, there's no such thing as a "bad" 308 model - all three have
their advantages and disadvantages.
Carb - the earliest cars, and thus the oldest (though no 308 is a spring chicken any more). Personally my favourite. Offer the purest lines, with no added on spoilers or bits and bobs to detract from the designers original pen work. Requires a bit more maintenance to keep those carbs running sweet, and like any highly tuned performance engine, can be a grumpy to start and idle when cold (there's a knack to starting them first time), but the sound of those 4 webers sucking loudly in your right ear (RHD versions) is like no other (made even more glorious in a GTS with the top off) ! Pure, unadulterated, old school performance engine with little electronic gimmickry. Also the most powerful of the 3 models (255bhp, euro spec)
Injection - followed the carb cars, but only for a short while. The least loved of the cars due to big drop in power (210bhp, euro spec). If you're on a budget, can be picked up the cheapest of any 308 (by quite a lot), but still has enough power to be fun, the better reliability of the injection models, and the divine handling common to all 308's. Oh, and you still get the looks and the badge of course !
Quattrovalve - the last of the 308's, created in response to the drop in power (and popularity) of the injection model (240bhp, euro spec). Has a 4 valve-per-cylinder head, and more electronic gubbins. Slightly "fussy" 80's add on's like the rear spoiler (my opinion) spoil the overall effect, but certainly the most reliable of the cars (generalisation), and the youngest too.
QV's are probably the most popular, closely followed by the carb models. At the end of the day, both QV and carb models are both great, and you wont go wrong with either. Me ? I'm 'old school', hence why I bought a late carb model.
Authors note : you will have noticed I've left the 208's out of the above, as
unless you live in Italy you are unlikely to come across one of these 2.0 litre
turbo charged, tax break cars.
Steel or Glassfibre ?
A few (750 or so) or the early GTB's had their body made of glassfibre. Sometimes these cars fetch a premium, as they don't rot as bad. Personally, assuming you can find a good steel bodied car, I wouldn't specifically go for a glassfibre one (though don't discount one if you do come across one in good condition). Remember that even a "steel" car is a bit of a mixture anyway - take my carb '80 model - the chassis is a tubular space frame (common to all 308s), the front nose "clip" (below the bumper line, including the front valance to the front wheel) is all glassfibre, as is the rear "clip" and the passenger floors. Front spare wheel access "hood" is alloy, as are the front and rear air vents. Most of the rest is sheet steel.
Your call. Most of them are rosso (70% I've read somewhere), but you get silver, black, metallic blue, white - you name it. As 308's are often someone's "first Ferrari" rosso red is by far the most popular colour (everyone wants a red Ferrari), especially when it comes to resale this can be a bonus. Interiors come in black and tan, again nothing to choose between the two, it's personal preference.
GTS or GTB ?
Go for GTS if you like top off motoring and better looks (most 308's are GTS's by the way). Doesn't get too windy with the top off until you hit about 100mph .... I've done 145mph with the roof off no problem (rather noisy, but not too much wind). With the top off you also get to hear that wonderful engine much better too. Very pleasant to cruise with the top off on a sunny day. The roof panel stores behind the seats when in transit.
GTB's are slightly taughter in the chassis, which might be important to you if you do track days a lot. They have better weather protection too (less seals to leak !). Can be slightly claustrophobic inside if you are tall. Harder to find (less made)
Cost of running ?
Ah, the big question. Well, first off, it's a Ferrari, in other words it's not cheap ! However 308's are possibly one of the cheaper ways to get into prancing horse ownership.
Servicing is every 3000 miles or 12 months, whichever comes first. Find yourself a nice friendly local specialist (I can recommend Shiltech, Loughborough, UK if you're near). A 3000 mile service will typically cost about 500 GBP, and every 3rd service you need the cam belts changing at about 600-700 GBP (these are rough example prices, as of Dec 2002). On top of servicing, allow yourself about 1000 to 1500 GBP a year for bits and bobs and ad-hoc repairs. If you have an early car, the original Michelin XWX tyres are still available, but are costly at 250 GBP each. Budget on 120-150 GBP for modern replacements, if originality is not your prime concern.
Try and avoid cars that need lots of bodywork and/or interior work, as they WILL cost the earth to do.
Driving hard I tend to get about 15 mpg. On a long, easy run that can go up to 20 or 21 mpg, but 17 or 18 is probably an average. All 308 engines need either leaded petrol, or a lead replacement additive (unless the engine has been converted of course, but that's pretty rare).
Example parts costs (all GBP, carb model) :
Spark plug set : 25
Spark plug lead set : 120
Engine heat shields : 60 (3rd party) to 150 (original)
Speedometer sensor : 80
Oil filter : 10
Fuel filter : 5
Small door "puddle" light : 30
Second hand wheel : 300 to 400
Clutch change by specialist : 400 to 600
As you can see, most common servicing parts are pretty reasonable, but stray away from servicing parts and the costs can rack up quickly. There are some people who do some of the more common repair parts as 3rd party reproduction items (for example Superformance in the UK), but I've found them to be of generally poor quality and now I only buy genuine. For harder to find items, search the web for places who do second hand Ferrari parts, there are quite a few out there.
Well maintained, engines and gearboxes are pretty bullet proof, and will easily last 100k miles between rebuilds. Use a synthetic oil with LSD additive in the gearbox, to reduce the "they all do that sir" sticky gearchange when cold.
What to look for when buying
GET A REPORT DONE BY A SPECIALIST ! ..... i.e. someone who is not selling the car. I cannot recommend this highly enough !!
I'll not mention the obvious stuff like checking for accident damage, but do check for rust in the following places : sills (rockers), the small outer panel between the front wheel and the door, door bottoms, rear wheel arches. Remember they are Italian cars at least 15 years old by now, and some people do use them in all weathers, so they will rot, and they will have dodgy Italian electrics if used in the wet.
schedule should be flawless, with no missed services. History and low mileages
make HUGE differences to prices in the Ferrari world.
Especially on a red car, check for good colour matches on any part resprayed cars (which there probably will be some of, after 15+ years). Bad colour matching on red cars shows up particularly badly at night under sodium lights.
Check everything is with the car, spare wheel, tools etc. Can be expensive to replace.
Check everything works, including air con (if fitted), electric windows, pop up headlights and electric arial. Remember it's italian, with italian electrics. Some electrical gremlin fixes are quick and easy, some are expensive and painful. Air con will not take the new R13 gas without modification.
This guide will be added to ad-hoc. Last updated : 8 August 2004