Driving a Ferrari 308 GTSi is really bad today but it doesn’t matter

I climbed into the slippery cockpit of my 1980 Ferrari 308 without any expectations. Ferrari or not, this car came out at the end of the Malaise era. Automakers were trying to leave the ’70s behind, but some of the results were half baked at best. But after nearly 40 years, the 308 has managed to hold on to some magic, even if you didn’t grow up watching Magnum PI.

I’m going out here and saying that you are probably familiar with the Ferrari 308 in one way or another. Whether you recognize it from the posters on the bedroom wall or as the chariot of Tom Selleck’s mustache, many people know this red wedge right away. However, just because a car is well known does not mean it is well understood.

The average non-car enthusiast assumes that a prestigious automaker only produces cars with impressive performance, and that this principle applies to Ferrari in particular. People hear Ferrari and immediately think fast italian sports car.

Well, the 308 GTSi is definitely an Italian car, and it qualifies as a sports car, but it certainly isn’t fast.

But this matters less than you think.

(full disclosure: The opportunity to drive a Ferrari 308 GTSI 1980 is made possible by Dietz Motorcraft who continues to fulfill my motoring dreams.)

What is this?

The 308 wasn’t supposed to be as powerful as its stablemates 12-cylinder or the legendary 288 GTO that would come out at the end of the production cycle. But that wasn’t Ferrari’s bargaining basement either, that honor held by Mundial, which we may discuss at another time.

The 308 GTSi would have cost around $45,000 when it was introduced in 1980, and that’s not far fetched What are they going to do today?. And of course, $45,000 in 1980 translates to about $140,000 in 2017.

The GTSi was added to the model range five years after the 308 GTB Coupe was introduced. The letter “S” stands for “spider”, and in the Italian language of the car, this means outdoor driving. This is made possible by a removable Targa deck that can be stowed in a cover behind the seats or left on the garage floor.

The letter “i” stands for injection, as in mechanical fuel injection, which was new in the 1980 308. As was the case with many high-performance vehicles at the time, the Bosch K-Jetronic unit helped the car produce lower emissions, but It also damages engine output.

For the US market, the occasional 2.9-liter aluminum V8 saw production drop from 237 hp to 214 hp, in the name of improving emissions, and it remained there until 1982 when the 308 Quattrovalvo It was an introduction.

I haven’t had a chance to drive that car, but I know someone who owns it and I’ve been told the difference is immediately noticeable. By adding four valves per cylinder, performance was restored and the same V8 engine produced 240 horsepower.

why does it matter?

If not for magnum b, Will the Ferrari 308 achieve such a bad reputation? What if Porsche abandoned its policy of no special modifications given to showrunners and modified the 928 for a larger sunroof for aerial shots? Can you photograph Selleck in 928? I definitely can’t and I only watched five or six episodes Magnum B in my life. The show made the Ferrari 308 an icon, but what I’ve always wanted to find out was if it could stand up to the merits of its own vehicles.

After spending time behind the wheel, I’m still not sure if that’s the case. There’s more to the Ferrari 308 than pop culture engravings, but the car simply embodies the era it came from, and that’s the strongest source of its charm.

The problem is that I can’t detach the code from the device. It’s impossible to drive this car and not think “I’m driving the damned Ferrari 308! Rad!” This is how Ferrari became the global brand we know today – emotional dominance and overload. What better time to sell cars that capitalize on our basic instincts from the ’80s?

How much force do you make? Who cares, it looks fast. How well is it built? It doesn’t matter, I’ll get a new one in a few years. Cocaine is a drug as well as a red Ferrari. Put them together and add some excursion on your stereo and you won’t have to search for a good time, you are already in one.

The coolest parts

The hub of the 308GTSi’s drivetrain is the gated dogleg manual transmission – reverse is up and left, first gear is in nearly every other manual gearbox – which instantly makes you feel like a race car driver even if you’re shifting the car into another position. for cars. With the first gear off to the side and a direct line between the second and third, it is easy to rifle between he goes gears while dodging in and out of turns. The metal gates surrounding the transmission make the paddling experience more magical with decisive and beauty crackle.

Once you actually descend on the open roads and run through gears, that feeling is magnified by a thousandth factor. Nothing makes you cool like switching a gated guide, even an older guide that you have to be patient with. When shifting gears has a satisfying soundtrack, the entire driving experience is elevated.

The 2.9 liter V8 behind your head isn’t that interesting, nor the exhaust note, but you know it’s there and somehow that’s enough.

You can hear all the mechanical movements and the air rushing through the vents. It’s a beautiful, unique soundtrack, and I’m now interested in comparing it to the turbo models in the Ferrari family of the 1980s.

If you can make this possible, please call, especially if you have a line on the 288 GTO I can drive because, you know, two turbines are better than one.

What it’s like to drive today

I had to think carefully about how to explain this and here’s what I came up with: The 308 GTSi drives like it was 1980. What I mean by that is, I can’t imagine it was any different in 1980 than it is today.

At 5’10”, I fit into the cabin easily, but in order to comfortably reach the pedals I had to pull the seat forward a bit which put the entire rearview mirror in my grille. Not the best ergonomics, but something people in Maranello tell me about that Time did not care.

Hidden door handles, oddly bolstered seats, and a funny rear view—none of that matters when you look at the long sloping bonnet. Once again, the appearance of the car inside and out makes up for its mechanical shortcomings.

The fully independent suspension is softer than I had imagined, allowing the car to bend through corners and float over road imperfections. Taking the clutch is high, like, truly High, although I got used to it quickly. Once that was done, navigating through traffic to get to the good roads was stress-free.

On those roads I’ve found that the 308 GTSi isn’t fast and doesn’t offer a particular sense of speed. Every time any kind of pleasurable pace was achieved, I had to immediately start thinking about how to effectively get rid of it. The brakes on this car are there, but that’s all I really felt.

What makes up some of that lost ground is the unhelpful steering of the rack and pinion. Having spent most of my life driving cars with power steering, I’m always happy to ride in a car with direct spur and legit communication. I enjoy wrestling with the wheel quite a bit, especially when it’s a classic Nardi wrapped leather tri-tip. This car could have some nice cranks everyday, just saying.


You know when you build something up in your mind that, no matter how good the experience actually is, it ends up being a disappointment? You may have heard this feeling referred to as “Don’t meet your heroes.” Well, luckily I was able not to do that with the 308 GTSi.

The 308 GTSi lasted two years and Ferrari built 1749 of them before finding out that the fuel-injected Dino V8 needed 4 valves per cylinder to produce badge-worthy power.

take a deficiency zoom Out of the picture, the 308 GTSi is quite an attractive package. Regardless of performance, this car is an automotive icon. She turns heads everywhere she goes, and rightly so, she is a thing of beauty. While I prefer the look of the more rounded 328 GTB/GTS, there is something uniquely charming about the 308 body model. It signifies the era in which I grew up, one foot in the past, one foot in the future.

It may not be the most mechanically impressive Ferrari, but it remains undoubtedly one of the most beloved Ferraris. And after getting just a few miles in one, I think her place in hearts and history is well deserved.

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