Despite what the haters, including our own Publisher Martin, have said, the Dino 308 GT4 is a wonderful example of 1970s angular styling

The 308 GT4 was presented the 1973 Paris Motor Show, first as a Dino then, in 1976, as a Ferrari. Some 2,826 cars were made to Ferrari’s specifications (four seats and a rear central engine) from 1973-80. The bodywork was by Bertone, even though Ferrari’s coachbuilding had been carried out by Pininfarina for nearly 20 years. In Sport Auto & l’Année Automobile 1974, José Rosinski credited the model with a top speed of over 155mph, with 1 kilometer covered from a standing start in 26 seconds.

The car presented is unusual for a Ferrari in being black, not red, and is a fine example of one of the most efficient and usable Ferrari road cars. It shows a total of 31,000 miles on the clock and comes with a folder containing all repair invoices since 1984. The current owner acquired it in 2004, and has spent over €20,000 on maintenance (carried out by Michel Mallier of Bois d’Arcy, near Paris). The driving belts and radial shaft seals were replaced in September 2007 after 28,400 miles.

The fragile sodium valves were replaced by solid valves; the steering rack and ball joints were also changed. The shock absorbers, suspension springs and all the silent-blocks are new. The oil pressure is very good, and the gear-box and clutch extremely smooth. A fitted stainless steel exhaust pipe has been mounted and the black wool carpets replaced, but the vinyl and beige velvet upholstery is original and in very fine condition. This Ferrari Dino is highly desirable and offers unbeatable value in terms of exclusivity, design, and pleasure at the wheel.

SCM Analysis

Detailing

Vehicle:1977 Ferrari Dino 308 GT4
Years Produced:1973-79
Number Produced:2,826
Original List Price:$23,875
SCM Valuation:$23,000-28,000
Tune Up Cost:$3,000
Chassis Number Location:Top Frame rail, right side of engine compartment
Engine Number Location:Top of block, right side
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America, P.O. Box 720597, Atlanta, GA 30358
Website:http://www.Ferrariclubofamerica.org
Alternatives:1976 Maserati Merak, 1976 Lamborghini Urraco, 1977 Ferrari 308 GTB

This car sold for $31,750 (€25,357) including premium at the Artcurial Sports & GTs at Le Mans Classic sale held Friday, July 9, 2010.

It is interesting and customary, though not correct, that Artcurial used both “Ferrari” and “Dino” in the identification of this car. At its launch, the successor to the Dino 246GT was called the Dino 308 GT4, as at the time Enzo still considered his name worthy only for 12-cylinder road cars despite having placed the Cavallino Rampante and his moniker for years onto 4- and 6-cylinder racing cars.

The company’s first forays into mid-engined GTs were still considered a risky experiment and therefore best hidden behind a diaphanous curtain. A funny thing happened though—the V6 Dinos were well received by the press and public. So, the next generation was planned, this time as Ferrari’s first V8 GT.

At the introduction in 1973, the car was called the Dino 308 GT4. In the middle of 1975, the word came down from Maranello that henceforth the 308 GT4 would be a Ferrari in name as well as fact. This was particularly important in the U.S. market, as the 246 GT had ended production, and the 365 BB didn’t meet U.S. emissions requirements, which left the GT4 as the Ferrari’s sole offering in the states. Dealers needed to sell it as a “Ferrari,” not a “Dino.” So the early cars are “Dino 308 GT4,” and the later ones are properly called “Ferrari 308 GT4.”

A new designer for Ferrari

The 308 GT4 was the first Ferrari in years not designed by Pininfarina, and many didn’t understand why, given the voluptuous shape of the Dino 208 and 246 GTs. However, given the desire, mostly for insurance purposes, to incorporate “Plus- 2” seating in the coming model, it was actually logical for Ferrari to turn to Bertone.

They had experience packaging such a layout in the Lamborghini Espada and were working on what would become the V8 Lamborghini Urraco, a concept in layout identical to the 308 GT4. Although it has been said that it was dissatisfaction with the styling, it’s far more likely that Ferrari never returned to Bertone for another car after he realized how similar the design of the two competitors turned out—especially inside.

Despite what the haters, including our own Publisher Martin, have said over the years, the Dino 308 GT4 is a wonderful example of 1970s angular styling, and very well balanced visually—especially as a 2+2 mid-engined layout. It’s much simpler and cleaner than the Urraco, and as time has passed, the best of the work from that period, such as this and the Maserati Khamsin, are becoming better appreciated.

The available two-tone “boxer” paint scheme helped to make the shape work even better, and the blues, grays, black and silver in which almost all were delivered suited the design quite well.

A lovable, cheap ride

Now, a confession: I was, until recently, the owner of a 1975 Dino 308 GT4. The car’s appeal to me was instant—I loved the looks of the car from the time it was launched, and have to this day the brochure I picked up as an 18-year-old at the New York Auto Show. So the esthetics are not a problem for me.

The dynamic qualities become apparent as soon as you drive one. It is a superbly balanced car, with responsive handling, and considering it comes from the mid-1970s, enough power to entertain. The long wheelbase gives the GT4 an excellent ride, and the seats are quite comfortable for long trips.

As they have been cheap for a long time, many have been converted to track day racers, where their combination of attributes make them comport themselves much better than the later 308 GTB/GTS. As a consequence, the available stock of wellmaintained street cars is now that much smaller.

A fun car, but not an investment car

As an investment, the GT4 hasn’t been a rocket, and no one has bought a Greek island on the appreciation earned from long-term ownership. On the other hand, a good one is now worth more than its original selling price. In the past decade the car has probably not sold for much less than the original price either.

Of course, maintenance costs are not cheap, and major work can easily cost the entire value of the car. If you buy the best one you can find, maintain it well and most important, drive and enjoy it, it will repay you well enough. I bought mine in August, 2008. Chassis 11086 was a U.S. delivery car which had covered 19k miles from new and came complete with all records from new, including the cardboard key tag, books, tools and the portable map reading light in its vinyl pouch. A FCA National Platinum winner in 1999, it still looked quite attractive after a 2007 color change to Azzurro with Boxer trim and tan velour interior.

In almost two years of ownership, I drove it nearly 4,000 miles, including to, from and on a New England 1000 rally. It was a blast to drive, attracted a great deal of attention and pleasantly surprised people who thought that all Ferraris had to be red. It recently sold through Fantasy Junction for a price near what was realized for the 31,000-mile car we are discussing here.

I was fortunate in that the major service, with belt replacement, had been done by Wayne Obry’s Motion Products shop shortly before I bought the car, so I did not have anywhere near the $26,000 (€20,000) in service receipts during my ownership that this seller had.

Jérôme Hardy, SCM’s man on the scene in Le Mans, told me that the GT4 was “…great, a 100% original, well-cared for regularly driven car…” and that he thought the black/ cream colors were terrific. It’s just the kind of 308 GT4 you’d want to find for the scenario I explained above. And I think that in the case of these cars, spend a premium to buy the best you can, and it will be well bought. So assuming this car was in top flight condition, hats off to both buyer and seller.

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