Here’s an appropriate follow up to the Dino 246 GT we saw the other day. The 308 GT4, whether sporting Dino or Ferrari badges (after May 1976) will go down as perhaps the most controversial car wearing a prancing horse. It’s easy to see why: after being in bed with Pininfarina for so long, Enzo kicked them out in favor of Bertone. Why? I’ve never heard a good explanation, but I suspect there must have been one. A bit of a lover’s spat. PF was certainly feeling hurt. But they had the last laugh.
It’s not like Marcello Gandini didn’t know his way around a mid-engined super sports car, having penned the Lamborghini Miura and Countach, among others. But let’s face it; Ferrari had acquired the PF look, and Lamborghini the Gandini look. Crossing over was probably a bad idea.
This test by Paul Frère focuses less on that issue and more on all the others. But he does note that calling this a 2+2 is a bit of a cruel joke. And just why both Ferrari and Lamborghini (with the Uracco) felt the need to build these “2+2″s is a good question. Needless to say, Ferrari soon thought the better of both the 2+2 concept and Bertone styling, with their 308GTB/GTS, styled by PF, of course.
The 308 was of course the first eight cylinder Ferrari ever, but hardly the last. The reason it was branded a Dino is that Enzo said “Ferraris are 12 cylinder cars; the rest are Dinos”. Of course that conveniently forgets the four cylinder racing Ferraris. And of course he soon changed his mind.
Meanwhile, the 308’s new 90 degree 3 liter V8 comes in for lots of praise for its tremendous flexibility. This was not a nervous, high-strung engine. it would smoothly accelerate from 25 mph in fifth right up to its top speed of some 152 mph without any flat spots or “cam effect”. Handling, ride and brakes all were praised. Steering not quite so much so. And the heating/ventilation system was atrocious.
A fine machine, if not one of the more desirable Ferraris. Although I’m sure they’re finally bringing good money now too.
The Uracco doesn’t look as bad as the GT4, but it can’t hold a candle to a PF Ferrari. A 2+2 needs the motor in front of the driver.
Yep, I can’t think of a successful 2+2 mid-engined car, not even the current Lotus Evora. It does work for rear-engined cars though, eg 911.
So maligned for style, but in my opinion, the thing about these very wedge like Dinos is that they are very color sensitive because of that strong bodyline crease. Dark colors aren’t very flattering, and neither is red. Light or metallic (preferably both) colors really work best:
I like it, a forerunner of the Lotus Esprit and other wedge shapes of the 70s.
I’ve always liked this style a lot more than the other regular Ferrari’s.. but I also prefer the Porsche 914 over other Porsche’s and my favorite car ever is the 2nd and 3rd gen Honda Prelude that maybe that explains it.
Even after all these years, I can’t say that I’ve ever warmed up to the doorstop styling of the Dino GT4. Not one of Bertone’s better efforts.
Eh, I like the design for what it is, but I never worshiped the alter of ol cut and paste Pininfarina. Frankly this was about the point the Carrozzeria lost their mojo anyway, Bertone and Italdesign penned far more interesting designs in the 70s and 80s. Even the 308 GTB/GTS was basically a recycle of the 246 GT, but with a slope nose.
Not that this was Bertone’s greatest effort, the Uracco looked much better IMO, but Pinanfarina themselves followed this wedge direction too, and frankly the GT4 is a damn sight better looking than the Mondial they penned themselves as a successor.
I like this shape. Not as much as the Uracco, but more than the 206/246 GT.
I owned a used one of these – a 1979 grey with red interior — during the later half of the 1990’s and drove it everywhere, to work, shopping, pleasure… put 35,000 miles on it. Great engine although it had a propensity to chew up water pumps for some reason. Replacement parts that I had to put in were usually GM or Mercedes pieces so they were much less expensive than Ferrari branded parts. Totally stock except I upgraded it to have electronic ignition. Rugged body, the doors that shut solid sounding just like a Mercedes. Drove like it was on rails. I even drove it in light snow, before the salt trucks came out of course… My kids loved the back seats and the smells of leather and oil only like a Ferrari smells, the sound of the motor like a freight train behind them…
My experience can only be described as outstanding, with mid engine the handling was quick and amazing. Fast heel-toe shifting with that gated shifter, never a wrong shift, like it had a mind of its own. I was driving it in Canada and met an owner of a 208GT4, that moter was a lot smaller than my 3 liter.
Until you’ve driven one, don’t judge this incredible car. I’ve had sport cars before and since but this one was the best and my favorite.
Never liked Ferraris and Lambos and such. Just not attracted to exotics. This one is quite nice, though. Not so exaggerated.
i see this beauty occasionally in greenwich village.
I just bought a 1976 308 gt4, I’m in love with my new car, not only the body style but the sound, smell and feel of it too! I appreciate every minute I get to be behind the wheel. Compared to my 1981 Ferrari 308 gtsi it’s a whole new experience. I feel it’s one of the most beautiful body styles of the 70’s and I would recommend this car to any potential Ferrari owner.