A 308 was not about leaping tall buildings, but was about balance and quality, its virtue being a lack of flaws

This 1979 Ferrari 308 GTB is finished in blue lacquer with red and black trimmed interior. The car is in excellent mechanical condition, and in the last two years, the engine and gearbox have been rebuilt. The engine is nicely run-in with about 1,000 miles since rebuild. The odometer shows just under 59,700 miles. Wheels are factory alloys and tires are near perfect.
Owning a Ferrari is an itch that nearly all collectors need to scratch at one time or another. The 308 GTB is a great place to start.

SCM Analysis


This 1979 Ferrari 308 GTB sold for $30,259 at Worldwide Group’s Seabrook, Texas Auction, May 6, 2006.
The introduction of the 308 GTB marked a watershed for Ferrari. The company had previously attempted to market a small Ferrari with the Dino series and the 308 GT4. The Dino was a Fiat/Ferrari collaboration that, despite being an excellent car, fell short of a real Ferrari pedigree, and the 308 GT4’s angular Bertone styling did not find the acceptance Ferrari hoped for. The 308 GTB fulfilled the earlier car’s shortcomings and became the cornerstone that changed Ferrari’s fortunes.
Pininfarina must be given credit for a large portion of Ferrari’s success. As new, faster, and better-driving Ferraris were introduced, Pininfarina styling sustained the market for older models. The 308 GTB represents the pinnacle of Pininfarina’s contribution to Ferrari’s success. At a time when angular styling was in vogue, Pininfarina resisted the fad and gave a modern edge to their traditional compound curves. The resulting silhouette is iconic.
My first drive in a 308 was my first drive in a real exotic, and I was prepared to be awed. I was sure the 308 would be a quantum leap from anything I’d ever experienced. To my disappointment, I was completely underwhelmed. I was expecting “can’t grab a hundred dollar bill on the dash” Cobra acceleration, and the 308 wouldn’t even break the tires loose. Instead of being “more powerful than a locomotive,” it wasn’t any faster than the stock Mustang I had owned a decade before.
Several months later, I got to drive a 308 from Atlanta to Dallas. An hour into the drive, I began to notice little things about the car that I’d overlooked the first time. The steering was absolutely precise, yet isolated road imperfections from the driver. The same thing could be said of the suspension. The engine that had failed to impress became downright feisty when driven in an rpm range far above what I had tried previously.
As I began to pay attention to the individual components of the Ferrari 308, I realized a 308 was not supposed to leap tall buildings. The 308 is about balance and quality, its virtue being a lack of flaws, not overt performance. By the time I got to Dallas, I was a convert.
The very first 308 GTBs (Grand Touring Berlinettas) featured an exceptionally well-crafted fiberglass body, Ferrari’s first, and to date only, use of that material in a road car body. By mid 1976, a traditional steel body replaced the fiberglass shell. In 1978, an open-top GTS (Grand Touring Spider) version was added to the line, and in 1983, a hood vent and roof spoiler differentiated the new Quattrovalvole, or 4-valve, model. In 1986, a new larger-displacement 3.2-liter engine (the 328 model) marked the final iteration of the 308. Throughout 308 production, the car was continuously updated with new interiors, wheels and trim, but the first 308 GTB still stands out as the prettiest variation.
The heart of any Ferrari is its engine, and the V8 that powers the 308 GTB is a real sweetheart. The 4-cam, 3-liter is equally comfortable lugging through traffic or sprinting around a racetrack; just avoid stoplight drags. It has enough torque to pull away from a stop in fifth gear without stalling, yet will climb effortlessly up to 7,700 rpm.
The 308’s transverse engine is mounted on top of a transverse transaxle with an easily accessible clutch assembly. The powertrain is somewhat clumsy to service, but has proven extremely reliable. Mechanical parts are readily accessible and servicing is relatively straightforward. Most foreign-car repair shops can handle all 308 service needs, and with support from owner’s sites like the FerrariClubofAmerica.org or FerrariChat.com, many owners tackle their own maintenance.
Condition is the key to 308 values. $10,000 paint jobs and $15,000 engine rebuilds are not uncommon. On the other hand, $1,000 a year for maintenance should keep a car in top condition. Water pumps are a weak point, as is second-gear synchromesh. Carefully used clutches will last well over 50,000 miles and replacements cost less than a month of college tuition. High-mileage examples sell under $20,000, and the best examples will pull almost $30,000.
The Texas 308 GTB sold on the high end of the range, especially for a B in this color. It normally takes a red car to pull a premium, and the targa-roof S models generally bring higher prices. Extensive service records came with the car, and may have comforted the buyer. Additionally, out-of-town inspections and transportation can add $2,000 to the price of a car, so perhaps the buyer was local and felt a bird in hand was the best deal.
Any child born at the same time the Ferrari 308 GTB was introduced will be starting to get a few wrinkles and gray hairs now. The 308 still looks sleek and sexy, and a well-kept model is a pleasure to drive. We can only hope to age as well.

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