Ferrari’s family of highly successful V8-engined road cars began with the 308 GT4 of 1973. Badged until 1977 as a Dino, thereafter as a Ferrari, the 308 replaced the preceding Dino 246. The Maranello factory’s first mid-engined 2+2, the 308 GT4 was the work of Bertone rather than the customary Pininfarina. By placing the front seats well forward, Bertone made room within the 100″ wheelbase for two children or one sideways-seated adult in the rear, while the compact engine/transaxle package left space behind the engine bay for a 188-liter (6.6-cubic foot) luggage compartment.
Although the newcomer’s wedge-shaped styling was controversial, the performance of the quad-cam three-liter V8 certainly was not, the latter’s 236 bhp proving sufficient to propel the 308 past 150 mph, with 60 mph coming up in under seven seconds. All-round independent suspension ensured that the handling, too, did not disappoint. Road & Track magazine was most impressed by the 308 GT4’s blend of speed and civility when they tested an example in 1974. “Apart from the performance, which you take for granted in a Ferrari, and the aforementioned remarkable flexibility of the engine, perhaps the most outstanding feature of the Dino 308 is the excellent ride it provides. There is no low-speed harshness and at speed the road irregularities are beautifully smoothed out. The progress, compared to earlier Ferraris, is enormous.”