In October 1973 a new car was announced in Italy, launched by a company which was also new. That car was the Dino 308 GT4, but in spite of not being badged as such, it was clear to everyone it was a Ferrari through and through. Enzo Ferrari still doggedly hung on to the tenet that all production Ferraris worthy of the name should have engines with no less than 12 cylinders. The three-liter Dino had “only” eight cylinders, in a 90-degree V layout, with four chain-driven camshafts and breathed through four Weber 40 DCNF carburetors to produce a claimed 255 bhp at 7,700 rpm. This compact, light-alloy power unit was disposed transversely and directly mated to a 5-speed transaxle.
Two years later, the 308 GTB was announced; a short-wheelbase Berlinetta sharing a similar mechanical layout to the GT4 but with only two seats and beautifully styled coachwork by Pininfarina, incorporating plenty of visual cues from the immortal 246. From the beginning, this car was always badged as a Ferrari and it was this car that was trumpeted as the 246’s successor. It was an instant classic. The earliest GTBs were easily the fastest and best handling of 308s and the later 328s, due largely to a lightweight fiberglass body, combined with a twin distributor ignition system, which allowed a few more horsepower than later cars, along with a dry-sump lubrication system. Not only were the fiberglass cars faster, but they are also much rarer and today they are highly sought after by collectors of the marque. A measure of the fiberglass car’s superiority over later versions is the success achieved by various examples in the Maranello Challenge race series, where they have easily defeated all opposition, from Boxers and Testarossas to F40s.