Sleeping Beauty Nº9: Ferrari 308 GT4

There’s no pleasing some people. Install a four-valve, four-overhead-cam, all-alloy 2926cc V8 in the middle of an all-new Ferrari and you’d think that would be pretty good, wouldn’t you?

In the case of the Bertone-designed Ferrari 308 GT4, the handy 2+2 design launched at the Paris Salon in October 1973, you’d be right – and wrong. It was an excellent car with sober - but timeless - styling, yet failed to catch the public’s attention after the drop-dead-gorgeous 246 GT Dino. Pininfarina was responsible for the earlier V6-engined car’s styling but the cars' bodies were built by Bertone and delivered to Maranello. Bet you didn’t know that?

The management at Maranello came to know Bertone well through this arrangement and, impressed, commissioned them to design the new eight-cylinder GT. It was the first non-Pininfarina production Ferrari to appear for 20 years. The small rear seats were similar to those found in the rival Lamborghini Urraco and Maserati Merak; useable for small children or coats and hand luggage. The engine was transverse-mounted and produced 255bhp at 7700rpm. This is proper stuff, giving the dart-like coupé a top speed of 152mph.

Like the early 206 and 246 GTs, the 308 GT4 was badged simply ‘Dino’, although this practice stopped after the summer of 1976. In September 1975, Ferrari bowed to an ever-increasing clamour for a two-seater, Pininfarina-styled ‘small’ V8 with voluptuous lines and launched the 308 GTB.

In this writer’s eyes, the newer model still looks a little ‘obvious’, while the Bertone design has aged well and is more discreet – particularly if finished in anything but ‘retail red’. The two 308 variations existed side by side until the 2+2 was replaced by the unhappy Mondial 8 in 1980.

In metallic bronze, or blue, with matching luggage and Alcantara-insert seats – we’d have one.

And so could you, by looking through the Classic Driver car database.

Text: Classic Driver
Photo: Classic Driver

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