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308 vs 328
308 buyers guide
my next classic
Ferrari 308 Vs 328
The classic Ferrari GTB/GTS is the most popular choice for first time Ferrari buyers. With more than 10000 of these cars sold there is a good and steady supply, but the question that keeps popping up is which is best. I have owned two very similar and yet very different of these Ferraris. My first was a 1979 GTB purchased in the US (full story on the 308 GTB page). The successor is a 1987 328 GTB originally sold in France (more details on the 328 GTB page). I'll try and answer some of your questions here.
When the Ferrari 308 made its debut in 1975 it was immediately successful and quickly became the foundation model for the firm. The first 18 months of production of 308 GTBs had bodies made predominantly of glassfibre, but in mid 1977, a switch was made to all metal construction. These days these glassfibre models (GTB only) are in demand because they are lighter (by at least 125 kg) and because their engines are completely unfettered by power sapping exhaust emissions equipment.
After the change to metal bodies the 308 went into decline. At first the carburetor engine kept a healthy quoted output of 255 bhp. (Those were the days when Ferrari could still quote power figures by thinking of a nicely rounded number; it would have been more honest to claim 220bhp or 230bhp.) Early in 1980 Bosch K-Jetronic injection was fitted and the emissions regulations reduced power to 214bhp making the 308 GTBi the slowest car of the series.
By the end of 1981 Ferrari had developed 4 valve heads for the 3 liters V8 and these cars were called 308 GTB/GTS Quattrovalvole. On a new honest rating system the engine gave 240bhp at 7000 rpm. Though this car was heavier than the original glassfibre cars performance was completely restored.
In 1985 came the first major redesign with the 328 GTB/GTS. Engine capacity was increased to 3185cc and power is up to 270bhp making the 328 the fastest of this series of Ferraris. With the new power to weight ratio of 5kg/bhp the 328 was back in the eighties supercar league.
On the handling front the 328 is very much reminiscent of its ancestor. It corners neutrally, tending to understeer a little and display hardly any body roll at all as speeds rise. The car just goes around corners and it has the useful facility of tightening its line neatly when you throttle off in mid bend. The old 308 behaves the same way but generates greater slip angles at lower speeds on X tires. The brakes of the 328 are a substantial improvement postponing lockup at the front. The ride of both cars is almost equal with maybe a slight advantage for the older car with its more flexible tire sidewalls.
The metamorphosis of the 308 into the 328 has made the car not only more sensible and practical but also faster and more economical. Though this hardly seems the point in such a car the fact that it is accompanied by substantial performance increase makes the 328 the best and most practical to own.
The Ferrari 308 and 328 are very special cars to me. Their inspired packaging makes them a joy to use, their performance and handling are stimulating and their looks are a supreme Pininfarina achievement.
The 308GTB was Ferrari's first two-seat V8 road car. Made available to the public in 1975, it was the long awaited successor to the incomparable Dino 246GT. Where that car had been the street-legal culmination of Ferrari's sports car racing championships of the 1960s, the 308 series was a new beginning for the company as the premier builder of exotic sports cars for the general public. As such, the 308 was designed to epitomize the sports car in its era. It did so admirably and remains perhaps the most influential enthusiast car in history.
The 308 is the car against which every subsequent sports car has been measured, upon which every Ferrari V8 sports and racing car has been based, and the car which brought Ferrari from the pinnacle of elite car-culture recognition into the minds of the general public. The shape and sound of the 308 is "Ferrari" in the minds of many people. The 308 also represents an excellent value for anyone wanting to own a Ferrari
. The Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS provided Pininfarina with an opportunity to flex its design and styling muscle. The company responded by redefining the public's collective impression of what a Ferrari, and indeed what a sportscar, should look like. When revealed at the 1975 Paris Salon, the 308 GTB signaled a momentous development in car design. Though the 308GT4 had been Ferrari's first mid-engined V8 road car, its designers had been hampered by the brief with which they were presented. In particular, Bertone had little time to create a 2+2 mid-engined car nominally related to Pininfarina's Dino 246GT. The result was a fine design, but one not well regarded at the time. The task given Pininfarina was the creation of a two-seat mid-engined V8. Though a simpler task, few can have expected the Turin designer to respond with such a tour de force.
The first 308GTBs were bodied in fiberglass over their oval-section tube frame chassis. The front hood was made of aluminum. The chassis' gain further strength from square and round section tubes supporting ancillary components and providing rigidity. Inner floorpans, wheel arches and the front firewall were also formed from fiberglass, with most of the remainder of the car being steel. To speed construction, Ferrari began to build the bodies from steel in 1976, though some European examples were fabricated from fiberglass into 1977. Steel increased the weight by 250lbs, with inner wheel arches and floorpan continuing to be formed from glass to retard corrosion. The front hood was always beaten aluminum; the rear firewall and trunk sections were always pressed steel. The 308 saw its greatest structural change with the introduction of the GTS model. Apart from designing and including the removable fiberglass roof section, the body was strengthened with a roll hoop extending through the B pillars and the roof. Along with the tube frame chassis this ensured that the open car retained rigidity.
The heart of the 308 series is its three liters V8 engine. The 308, 308i and 308qv are differentiated mainly by developments of the engine. Evolution was necessitated by emission control laws enacted throughout the ten years in which the car was produced. Changes were primarily made to improve power and reliability in the face of increased emission controls. On the whole, Ferrari was extremely successful at maintaining the lively soul of the 308, producing as good a sports car in 1985 as they had introduced in 1975. This feat was accomplished by few if any contemporary car makers without increasing the size of their powerplants.
There are many reasons to buy a preowned Ferrari 308. One is the significant value they represent in the current market. The 308 series remains a very modern looking and modern feeling sports car, offering performance in line with current high performance vehicles. It may strike a potential buyer that a Ferrari should be faster than other cars, but such a buyer must keep in mind that the newest 308s are now over ten years old. When new, they were faster and quicker than their contemporaries. That they continue to hold their own with ease amongst current cars is a testament to their level of design and quality of build. Unlike most of their contemporaries, they remain a desirable landmark of automotive design to be enjoyed by their owner
All variants of the 308 are desirable in their own way. The original 308GTB and GTS offer the charm of the designers' unadulterated vision. If a rare fiberglass GTB can be found, it offer reasonable assurance of being rust free and the best performing carburetor model. This helps offset their age, which is now in excess of 20 years. The steel bodied 308s will be more readily available than the fiberglass models, and are likely to be less expensive. Thanks to their carburetors they offer the enthusiast a car which can easily be tuned for a little extra performance. This also makes the 308 something of a link to the golden age of sports cars, for which many enthusiasts yearn. The 308i is sometimes ignored by shoppers because of its reduced performance. This is good for the canny buyer or one less interested in straight line speed than in cornering. The 308i may represent the best value amongst 308s precisely because some eschew its lesser power output; it is often available for a markedly lower price than its stablemates. In terms of performance it can corner as well as the other 308s, if not better because of its wide tires and further tuned suspension. The lower power output may also increase the longevity of a 308i's engine, and for touring purposes power is of secondary importance. The fuel injection is smoother and possibly a little more consistent than the carburetors it replaced. 308i's also benefit from the fact that they are relatively new by comparison to 308's. The 308qv is probably the most desirable of the 308's, but it is also amongst the most expensive due to relative youth. With the combination of fuel injection, four valve heads and later production, the 308qv probably offers the most to a first time buyer lucky enough to find one. Once the prospective buyer of a Ferrari 308 series car has decided which model they want, it remains to decide whether to purchase a GTB or GTS model. Again, each has its advantages. The GTB is more rigid thanks to its fixed roof, but it is also rarer. Only one in three 308s will have the berlinetta body. Therefore a GTS model will probably be easier to find, and probably less expensive. The GTS also offers the delightful option of open air motoring.
Ferrari's fixed roof 328GTB (Berlinetta) and removable roof 328GTS (Spider) debuted together at the 1985 Frankfurt Auto Show. While often considered the final evolution of the 308 series, the 328 was a substantially new car. The changes were well executed, as the 328 became the single most successful model in Ferrari's history. Providing extremely high performance, incredible 308-derived Pininfarina styling, improved road holding and greater comfort, the 328 scored a direct hit with the car-buying public.
The 328 is modeled upon Pininfarina's seminal masterpiece, the 308 . The basic styling themes of the 308 continue: a prominent nose to split the air and guide it around the car; a sizable front overhang to provide a long hood and set the occupants at the center of the wheelbase; a generous cabin and a long rear deck with short rear overhang to set the engine ahead of the rear axle without lengthening the car; and a curvaceously sculpted body suggesting speed and opulence, even in the garage. Sloping gently upwards and outwards from the nose to the midline and gently down and in from the mid-point to the rear, the 328 retained the state of the art shape of the mid 1970s.
Under its skin, the 328 resembles the 308. The chassis is an oval section tube frame construction, offering race-car construction and rigidity, without a weight penalty. The suspension was retuned slightly as the 328 weighed about 100lbs less than the 308qv . When ABS became standard in 1988, the suspension geometry was revised to further reduce squat and dive.
The 328 was designated a new model primarily because of changes to its engine. The most obvious of these is a 259cc increase in volume to 3185cc. This was the second major development of the now venerable 90 degree Ferrari V8, but the first which increased displacement. The extra 259ccs were derived by increasing both bore and stroke to a respective 83.0mm and 73.6mm.
The main decision confronting a prospective 328 buyer is whether or not to buy a 308 instead. Key advantages of the 328 are its relative newness, its extra development and a generally greater availability. These may be offset to some extent by a higher price. In general, a buyer who wants greater performance "off the showroom floor" and a more modern design will prefer the 328. Those who want classic styling and simplicity will opt for the 308 . The decision between a 328GTB and a 328GTS may be a forced one. Those who want the fixed-roof GTB may face a search because only 1344 of the 7412 328s produced are berlinettas. Rarity and a slightly stiffer body are probably the only advantages offered by a GTB.