The Ferrari Dino 308 GT4 unveiled at the 1973 Paris Auto Show was a stunning departure. The name had become so closely associated with Pininfarina’s curvaceous 246 that this new angular shape by Bertone -- which hadn’t done a Ferrari body in years -- was shocking in comparison.
Add to that
the presence of Ferrari’s first production V-8, the fact that this was the
marque’s first midengine 2+2, and the reality that the car didn’t actually wear
the Ferrari badge, and controversy reigned.
and public didn’t realize was the four-seat Ferrari Dino 308 GT4 was not the
replacement for Pininfarina’s two-seat Ferrari Dino 246. That replacement was still two
years away. This Dino pointed Ferrari in a new direction, a departure enhanced
by the 308 label. It identified Ferrari’s new 3.0-liter V-8, which mounted
transversely behind the small rear seats.
The 1975 Ferrari 308 GT4 didn't originally
wear the Ferrari badge. See more Ferrari images.
As for Bertone’s role, it had recently earned Enzo Ferrari’s confidence by building bodies for Fiat’s Dino 2+2, some of them assembled at the Ferrari plant. “My father gave the (308 GT4) project to Bertone because they had done the Fiat Dino 2+2,” said Piero Ferrari, a fact confirmed by former Bertone man Enzo Prearo. “The result was the Dino GT4. He gave to Pininfarina the two-seat car, and that was the 308 GTB.”
chief stylist Marcello Gandini remembered Enzo being actively involved in the
design. “It was conceived under his initiative,” Gandini said. “(W)e prepared a
mockup with pedals, four seats, and an engine. (It) could be made longer or
shorter using a hydraulic pump so Ferrari himself could decide on the pedal’s
position and the interior space.”
The interior of the 1975 Ferrari 308 GT4.
Few observers called Bertone’s styling pretty. But criticism weakened once magazines tested the car. Formula 1 champ Emerson Fittipaldi tried one for Italy’s Quattroroute. He found the lines “beautiful for a 2+2” and said it was “one of the best GTs.” Le Mans-winner-turned-journalist Paul Frere noted in his Road & Track test that “it only has eight cylinders ... but by any other standard it is a Ferrari.”
Still, the Ferrari GT4 languished on dealer lots, particularly in the U.S., where it was the only model Ferrari offered at the time. In May 1976 the car finally was badged a Ferrari rather than a Dino, and when Ferrari 308 GT4 production ended four years later, it was Ferrari’s third-best-selling model to that time, at more than 2,800 produced.Ferrari GT4 sidelights include Bertone’s targa-topped one-off Rainbow in 1976, and American importer Luigi Chinetti’s Le Mans prepped version. And in response to the fuel crisis, a Ferrari 208 GT4 with a 2-liter V-8 was made for the Italian market, where engine size was heavily taxed.
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