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As a small boy of nine, while watching Magnum PI on TV, I announced that I was going to buy one of those Ferrari 308s, like Magnum's. I was told that I would probably never sit in one, let alone be able to afford one... That was a challenge. I set a target to buy one for my 30th birthday... And I bought one. Not a 360, 355 or 348, but the one I wanted when I was nine. It was fantastic. It is fast even by modern standards, but feels faster. It sounds like a really expensive chainsaw. A small (3 litre) high-revving V8 sits just behind your head, and eggs you on. The rev counter has a wide red-band. If you feel rich, rev to the top of the band where it sounds absolutely fantastic, but could result in a very expensive repair bill. As you slow down the four exhausts crackle and pop. When accelerating it screams. To quote Ferris Bueller "If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up". O.K. he was talking about the 250 California Spider, and the 308 is not quite that pretty, but it does at least go round corners.
I bought the "QV" (Quattrovalvole") The "Best" one. It has higher quality steel body-work and a 32 valve injected V8, but earlier models with carbs and mild steel exhausts do sound better and the early plastic bodied ones are the fastest of the lot. The intermediate injected 16 valve GTBi and GTSi that came before the QV specifically introduced to meet the new US emissions requirement, are the least powerful, but still look great and as a consequence should be slightly more reasonably priced. If/when I buy another one, it will be an early steel GTS (targa-top) with carbs... In red. In terms of image I will look either cool or a bit of an arse. O.K. probably the latter, especially in that Hawaiian shirt, but I don't care.
You can pick one up for less than half the price of a standard Porsche Boxster. It's quicker, sounds better and far less common. That's probably not a fair comparison as you really could use the Porsche every day and not worry about reliability, but my Ferrari never let me down.
Servicing is quite expensive, comparable to high performance modern cars and more frequent (at least every 6000 miles) but insurance is not, if you keep the mileage down, keep it garaged and opt for a classic car policy (e.g. £300 in my case, for a 3000 mile a year policy). Fuel consumption is variable. I drove to Le Mans 24 hour race with some petrol-heads and managed just 12 mpg, whereas a trip to the Loire valley with a refined lady resulted in 22 mpg. As for practicality it has a small boot at the front mostly full of spare tyre and a surprisingly large boot behind the engine big enough for a couple of squashy bags and a case of wine (shame the wine gets cooked by that hot little engine) The interior is beautiful and surprisingly comfortable, although the ride is quite hard and you sit very low. Handling and road-holding are fantastic with very communicative steering.
I would recommend being very careful when buying a car like this. Get it mechanically checked by an expert and make sure it's not stolen. A previous owner of my 308 claimed it was stolen from him while he was out of the country. I bought from a reputable dealer who provided me with solicitors to act on my behalf and proved the previous owner's ex-wife had sold it in his absence! It was annoying, but cost me nothing.
Would I recommend buying a 308? Absolutely, but only if you can afford an occasional, potentially large bill.
This review is also on Ciao and my web-site.
For some photographs see:
I owned a 308GTB for about 18 months. It goes without saying that it is a beautiful car to behold: a classic Ferrari shape, wedged and menacing. It just makes you want to look at it forever! It is quite a light ride, it steers unusually well for a Ferrari, and of course, holds the road like any supercar should. Performance is great, just beware of "unwanted attention." Owning one of these draws a lot of onlookers, so keep to the speed limit!! I've passed it on now, a car like that just has to be used, and it was gathering dust in the hangar. I just hope it's being treated well now!