The May Sale 2017

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1981 Ferrari 308 GTSi

Lot No.: 344

Registration: TDV 65W
Chassis Number: ZFFHA02B000038017
Engine Number: 00711
Number of cylinders: 8
CC: 2927
Year of Manufacture: 1981
Estimate (£): 45,000 - 55,000
(+buyer’s premium of 15% including VAT @ 20%)

The 308 GTB, launched at the Paris Motor Show in 1975, was conceived as a direct replacement for the 246 Dino.  Designed by Leonardo Fioravanti, the man who styled some of the most iconic Ferraris including the Daytona, the new 308 had a rakish and attractive body which fused classic elements of Ferrari styling with a thoroughly modern design. Perhaps one of the most recognisable designs ever penned for Ferrari, the 308 was an instant hit and it came to define late '70s and early '80s sports cars.

For the first two years of production, the body of the 308 was produced in fibreglass, before the decision was reached to change to steel. It shared a similar tube frame chassis to the original Dino and 308 GT4, with four-wheel double wishbone independent suspension and a transversely mounted 3-litre, four-cam V8 of a 90-degree configuration, with belt driven twin overhead camshafts. The 'Targa' topped 308 GTS arrived in 1977 and was perhaps best known for its regular appearances on the television series ‘Magnum, P.I'.

Although Ferrari had used fuel injection in a number of his single-seater and sports racing cars, it had been considered too complex for use with road cars, however, as time went by, the technology improved until in 1979 fuel injection was introduced on the 400GT. Perhaps the ousting of Weber artistry was inevitable not only from an engine development point of view but also to help in meeting the increased demands of the legislators in a number of export markets. Whatever the reasons, it became Ferrari policy to introduce fuel injection on all production models.  For the 308 in 1980 Bosch K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection was added and coupled to a Marelli MED 803A Digiplex electronic ignition system, incorporating a coil, distributor and ignition module for each bank of cylinders. These modified engines produced 211 bhp, whilst the final drive was altered to give similar acceleration to a carburettor car, with the whole car weighing just under 1,300 kilos.

Outwardly, there was little to distinguish these cars from those that have gone before. The 'i' on the back denotes the use of injection as do the twin tailpipes either side of the silencer box, but this was not infallible as twin exhausts had also been used as a high-performance option on earlier cars. 

The car presented here was first registered in Milan, Italy in September 1981. In the classic colour combination of Rosso Red with Crema leather, this fantastic example has covered just 42,577 miles.  In September 2014 the car was imported into the UK having been acquired from a specialist dealer in Belgium. Over the past two years, our vendor has invested over £6,000 in maintaining the car in very good mechanical condition. Upon arrival in the UK, the steering and lighting systems were overhauled to ensure MOT compliance; followed by an engine overhaul, new cam-belts, injectors, oil cooler, and pipes etc.  

This is a great example of an increasingly desirable car which remains very affordable when compared with other Italian exotica.  The 308 is generally accepted as one of Ferrari's all-time greatest road cars, and what with prices on the rise, this is a great way into Ferrari ownership.  Interestingly, this particular car has been featured on BBC's Top Gear, screening on the 12th March 2017. 

As is often the case with classic cars, 30 years of hindsight has a habit of clarifying the picture and, as with other Marques, the earlier models have become the most desirable. In the case of the 308, the succeeding 328, 348 and 355 became more sophisticated and better equipped but also heavier and more complex and, in the end, it's the 308 that retains the essential purity of Fioravanti's original concept.