A Ferrari for the family…
Not quite a “true” Ferrari, but I think lovely just the same. This is from R&T’s 1979 November issue:
I very seriously read Road and Track, Car and Driver, and Motor Trend during the Seventies. I was in my early twenties and I wanted to learn about every car out there. I couldn’t afford one then and still can’t. Believe it or not, I found a similar looking Ferrari 400 not ten years ago on a local consignment lot and the asking price was hovering around the ten thousand dollar mark. The car was sort of rough around the edges and it had been repainted very, very, very poorly. There was orange peel everywhere, runs visible on the rear panel and overspray on the prancing horse! I bumped into a young colleague who was an exotic car fan, and happened to be checking the car out that day. As we heard the motor run and idle he pointed out that the rattling sound was from the cam chains and that the expense to rebuild the motor would cost more than the asking price of the car itself. Myself and several other onlookers felt that for ten grand, we would be happy to park it our garage so we could just look at it.
Another even more fantastic Ferrari story occurred a year or so earlier, when I was looking for fixtures and shelving for my shop on CL. I responded to an add for some cabinets and went to a home on a private wooded road in a very affluent area in the south bay. I found a big collection of stuff filling up the driveway and met the young man selling the cabinets. The home was not especially large and built in the early sixties before the real estate prices had gone through the stratosphere. The lot next door had a huge new house under construction. While we were loading up the cabinets I observed a car under a tarp, next to the driveway. It was long and low and I thought it might be a Corvette or something. I asked him about it and he told me to take a look. I lifted the tarp up a bit and saw the unmistakable side strakes. I asked him if that was a Ferrari and he said yes. I then asked if it was a kit car and he said no. He uncovered the car and it was definitely a Testarossa. Of course I was amazed. He told me that his Dad had died when he was in his early twenties and he had spent part of his inheritance on buying the new Ferrari. He had driven it everywhere as an everyday car for around ten to fifteen years. Gradually the car’s condition deteriorated and so did his financial situation and he was no longer able afford to repair and maintain it. He brought it home and parked it at his mother’s house, where it had sat for several years. He asked if I knew anything about these cars because he knew that I had a Datsun business. He really hadn’t paid much attention to the market for these cars and asked about finding some one to repair it. I suggested that he contact the Ferrari dealer in Los Gatos and they could help him to repair it or find a buyer for it. Of course I wasn’t in a position to even make an offer on the car. I guess that he held onto the car for sentimental reasons. For all I know it’s still sitting out there under that tarp. I hope not. True story.
I realize a lot of people don’t even consider this to be a real Ferrari, but I think it is one of the best looking cars they have made. I have a weird taste I guess.
I agree Pete. It’s one of those cars that does not look great in photos – but see one in the metal and it will almost take your breath away.
Thank you for this article! I owned a 1979 308 GT4 for 7 years and loved it. Built like a tank, as solid as my Mercedes W124. I agree with everything in the review especially about the ventilation system LOL. I miss that open gated shifter and the sound of that superb engine behind me with its four carbs wide open nearing the redline!
Partial CC Effect today … I saw a Dino on the road this morning, albeit a faded red 246, not a 308. It’s my second 246 spotting in the last month; two more than the number of Fiat Stradas I’ve seen in the last 200 or 300 months.
Unlike some, I think it looks good in photos and in the metal.
In Europe, at least this was sold as the Dino 308GT4 and then as the Ferrari 308 GT4 but never as the Ferrari Dino GT4.
Can’t beat the Dino though. That was an all time great
Saw one of these on the road sometime last year. It’s a striking shape, even now. Not as beautiful as the successor 308 GTB (which is, to me, one of the truly iconic Ferrari designs) but unmistakable and very 70’s supercar.
308GTB is a my favourite Ferrari also.
Nice video clip here of a 208GT4 (smaller-engined version sold in Europe)
Damn, I just watched the Petrolicious video that Mike G posted last week and fell madly in love with its 208GT4. Even though it’s quite a bit slower than the 308, that seems like the ultimate version of this car to me The original styling with the slim bumpers, Cromodoras, non-red paint and Dino badge fully agree with the impossibly tiny V8, IMO (fun fact: smallest production V8 ever built; just slightly smaller than Fiat’s 8V 2-liter).
I love all of Bertone’s output from this period, but – for no reason in particular – I’d never really paid all that much attention to the GT4 in the past. Looking at it with fresh eyes, I think it’s the vestigial hips and 2+2 accommodations (necessitating a steeper C-pillar and 100% flat roof) that are drawing me in now. I really like that transition between the roofline and decklid. It creates the illusion of a single line flowing all the way back to the rear end in a gentle curve from most angles. That’s really lovely. It would have a steeper rake and look less awkward in profile as a 2-seater, but I don’t think I’d like that as much!
Yep, it’s a shape that lived for too long in the shadow of its curvy forebear. I think it’s peak Gandini, but sits below the Carabo, Countach and Urraco. The one thing that bugs me about it is the ducting in the c-pillar; that organic entry point sits in contrast to the origami wedge theme. Early clay…
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