If the Ferrari world was turned upside down by Bertone’s angular Ferrari 308 GT4 in 1973, things were righted when Pininfarina’s beautiful two-seat Ferrari 308 GTB made its debut two years later.

“Based on the 308 Dino GT4 (but) with only two seats (the GTB) is regarded by many as the more natural successor to the much-loved Dino 246,” England’s Motor summed up for many. “The styling is the best to come out of Pininfarina for a long time.”

The 1984 Ferrari GTS QV and 1979 Ferrari 308 GTB.
The 1984 Ferrari GTS QV and 1979 Ferrari 308 GTB (background).
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The Dino design comparison was apt.

“Like the 206/246 Dino,” acknowledged Sergio Pininfarina, “the inspiration for the 308’s lines came from the Dino Berlinetta Speciale we exhibited at Paris in 1965.”

The Ferrari 308 GTB was significant as the first non-12-cylinder Ferrari to use the coveted Ferrari name. And it was the first Ferrari with a fiberglass body. Its underpinnings were identical to the Ferrari 308 GT4’s, but its wheelbase was shortened about eight inches (210mm) to 92.1 inches (2340mm). As with that 2+2, horsepower was quoted at 255, and the European version used a dry-sump oiling system. Emissions regulations limited the first GTBs in America to 240 horsepower.

The 1979 Ferrari 308 GTB.
The 1979 Ferrari 308 GTB was the first Ferrari to use a fiberglass body.

Road-testers fell in love. Autosport’s John Bolster marveled at its temperament: “The 308 GTB is a civilized car that anybody can drive.”

“Dino 246 fans, cheer up!” was how Paul Frere began a March 1976 Road & Track review. “There is a worthy two-place successor to your favorite car. And it’s even better, faster, quieter and more comfortable.”

Ferrari in early 1977 phased out the fiberglass coachwork in favor of traditional steel panels. In September that year, it introduced the targa-topped Ferrari 308 GTS (“S” for spyder). This had a removable center roof section covered in black vinyl and used louvered panels in place of rear quarter windows.

Horsepower of U.S. cars had diminished to 205 because of ever-tighter American emissions rules. Ferrari in 1980 responded by replacing the 3.0-liter’s quartet of two-barrel Weber carburetors with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection. New Ferrari 308 GTBi and GTSi badging marked the change. The injected engine remained at a quoted 205 horsepower in the U.S.; Euro versions had 214.

Concurrent cabin updates included revised bucket seats with better bolstering, and supplemental controls that were ergonomically superior. The steering wheel changed, and the clock and oil-temp gauge moved to the center console from just above the driver’s left knee.

Though the injected engine brought smoothness and a more flexible power curve, it needed more punch. So in 1982, Ferrari introduced the 308 quattrovalvole. These “QV” V-8s still displaced 2962cc, but had 230 horsepower in U.S. trim, 240 for Europe. Credit went to their higher compression ratios and, more important, to their new four-valve-per-cylinder heads. Road tests in America and Europe found them the best performing Ferrari 308s of all.

The 1988 Ferrari 328 GTS.
The 1988 Ferrari 328 GTS was likened to a work of art by critics.

The Ferrari 308 GTB QV and GTS QV were replaced in 1985 by the Ferrari 328 GTB and 328 GTS. The 328 was a subtle update to the 308’s stunning lines, the most obvious changes being a new grill in front, the addition of one in the rear, and form-fitting bumpers that matched the body color. New five spoke wheels with a concave shape were also standard. Inside, the dash was redone, as were the seats, supplementary controls and door panels.

The best change was in the engine compartment, where the V-8 increased some 200cc to 3185cc. Horsepower jumped to 260 in U.S.-spec cars, 270 for European versions. Performance reflected the change. Car and Driver’s 328 GTS hit 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, 1.8 seconds quicker than its GTS QV. Top speed rose 9 mph to 153.

Like the Ferrari 308, the Ferrari 328 was immensely popular. “(It) is a rare and beautiful car,” England’s Motor said in a 1986 test, “as close to a work of art as any modern car can be. That it is also faster than ever and easier to live with makes it a car you ache to own. It is, after all, a Ferrari.”

Learn about these other great Ferrari Road Cars:

166 MM
250 GT SWB
365 CaliforniaTestarossa
212 Inter
400 Superamerica
365 GT 2+2
F40
340 America
250 GTE
365 GTB/4 Daytona
348
375 America
250 GT/L Lusso
365 GTC/4
456 GT
375 MM
330 GT 2+2
512 BBi
F355
250 Europa GT
500 Superfast
400i
F50
250 GT Boano
275 GTB/4
308 GT4
550 and 575
410 Superamerica
275 GTS
308 and 328
360 and F430
250 GT Coupe
Dino 246 GT
Mondial
Enzo
250 GT Spyder California
330 GTC
288 GTO
612 Scaglietti

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