Ferrari 308 GTB – The Italian Boulevard Cruiser.

A recent ride revealed that all classic cars don’t have to go fast to be enjoyed, something which is true of this Ferrari 308 GTB. 

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It’s late on a Wednesday afternoon in Dubai. The temperature is on the wrong side of 40C and humidity is increasing. I’m in the passenger seat of a 1976 Giallo Fly (yes, that is the colour) Ferrari 308 GTB heading towards the Meydan racecourse. The A/C is struggling to cope with the heat and a Little Richard 8-track is belting out some good old rock ‘n’ roll. Probably a good time for a person to say, “La Bella Vita.”

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The 308 happens to be one of the few relatively reasonable classic Ferraris available to buyers today. The GTS (Targa) variant of the car will immediately bring back fond memories of Magnum P.I. for viewers of the show. However, for someone who hasn’t watched the show (like me), it becomes difficult to place the car into context.

The 308 GTB was also the first V8 powered car to come out of Maranello with the prancing horse logo affixed to the hood. The 2,927 cc motor made 255 stallions, which was more than sufficient for its day. Four two-barrel Webers mixed the good stuff to ensure that the V8 did its work properly.

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So how did it feel? To be absolutely honest, rather underwhelming. I suspect a number of those prancing stallions have escaped from the stables over the years, leaving this 308 without much grunt. The exhaust note is nice but it still had to compete with Little Richard and that’s not something I thought I’d say in any Ferrari.

So, it’s a cruiser. It’s a car that would be perfect for a weekend boulevard drive, keeping its occupants comfortable while steeping them in nostalgia of a bygone era. The interior has been bestowed with beautiful switchgear and a MOMO steering wheel, keeping things strictly period correct.

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Once we reached our location, I started taking photos. Beginning with a dark underground parking garage and then slowly drawing the car out to bask in the rays of the setting sun, I was able to admire how beautifully the chaps at Pininfarina had penned the car’s lines.

Soon the sun bid us ‘arrivederci’, and we started wrapping up. We got back on the road heading towards our point of origin, giving me some to think about where the 308 GTB fit in Ferrari’s line-up.

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Maranello churned out more than 12,000 308s in the GTB and GTS variants. This particular 308 is one of 712 Vetroresina (glassfibre) GTBs produced, before the factory switched to steel. Regardless, the production numbers alone tell us that this car is akin to today’s 458 Italia or 488 GTB. Built in relatively large numbers for those looking to extract supercar performance from a mid-engined V8 machine, the 308 and its younger sibling, the 328, were built for the enjoyment of the well-heeled masses of the 1970s and ’80s.

Admittedly, today a buyer has to jump through a number of hoops in order to buy a new 488 GTB from Ferrari. Back then, however, things were different and the 308 seems to have been an under-appreciated car, due to its numbers. Fortunately, things have changed and the 308 seems to be getting the respect it deserves, even if it is due to a certain moustachioed private investigator.

Now where did I put my Little Richard CDs?

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