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How to buy a secondhand Ferrari 308 GTB

By Chris Chilton

Motoring Issues

10 April 2009 10:00

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The huge appeal and increasing affordability of the 355 and its slightly less polished predecessor, the 348 – yours from just £20k, or below for a leggy one – have done plenty to depress values of the 308 GTB and its GTS open-topped cousin. But these impossibly pretty successors to the Dino 246 are still a perfect way into Ferrari ownership – and a totally different experience, feeling closer to the Dino than a 348, but available for a fraction of the price of a decent 246. Better news still, depreciation isn’t a worry because prices have stabilised after a period of stagnation.

Jim Heywood’s glassfibre-bodied example is one of just 87 right-hookers built before the switch to steel panels. Which also means it’s on carbs and is delivering a healthy 240bhp. ‘The carburettor cars are the best in terms of engine response,’ says Karl Virdi, ‘most people steer clear of the ’81-82 injected cars. They’re down on power and feel soft, although the 32v QV cars that followed were much better.’

The engine’s transverse location means it’s much cheaper to run than its successors, particularly when it comes to the cambelt change – a relative snip at £350 plus VAT.

Less impressive is the 308’s resistance to rot, the bottom of the front wing ahead of the door being the worst culprit. Glassfibre bodies don’t rust of course, but they can crack and chip.

Good 308s can command up to £30k. Virdi reckons GRP cars aren’t worth any more than steel these days although Mike Wheeler says racers still like them for their lower kerbweight. Both agree that you’ll need to pay more for a GTS than a GTB. Keep looking and you should be able to pick up a sound right-hand drive GTB for the low twenty-somethings. There are plenty around for £22k, and there's decent choice starting from just £18k.

Ferrari 308 GTB: the driving experience

Even the youngest Ferrari 308 is heading for its quarter century, so it’s no surprise that they don’t drive like modern cars. With no power steering and, on early cars, a heavy clutch, they demand muscle at low speeds, particularly if, as many have, you’ve switched the dainty 14in rims for 16s.

Some of the 308’s interior trim is poor quality but the driving position is surprisingly good. The dog-leg gearbox is slightly stiff but the trick is to be assertive.  And remember to skip second gear when changing up from first to avoid crunching when the oil is cold.

On the move it feels lighter than its near-1400kg and incredibly compact - making it ideal for B-roads where the steering lightens up, with the wheel wriggling comfortingly in your hands.

The noise might surprise you too. This carb-fed car sounds really rorty at low revs, and slightly hard-edged, like a twin-cam four, before shifting to a more exotic tune as you head towards the redline.

It’s not blindingly fast – 60mph takes 6.7sec – but neither does it ever feel lacking in grunt like the earlier Dino can and the throttle response is sharper than a Private Eye cover.

Ferrari 308 GTB: the spec

Engine: 2926cc 16v V8,  240bhp @ 6600rpm, 195lbft @ 5000rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 0-60mph 6.7secs, 154mph
Weight: 1400kg
Years made: 1977-1985
Number built: 7412
Price new: £16,499
Price now: £22,000

Ferrari 308 GTB: the buying advice

What to look out for: The engines are very good on these cars and other than the usual checks for oil leaks and misfires they are fairly sound. The main thing to watch out for is corrosion along the swage line especially above the front and rear bumpers and front arches.

Service schedule: Ferrari recommends a service every 6250 miles but the 308 benefits from a yearly service. The cambelts should be changed once every two years or 25,000 miles, whichever is sooner.

Cost of minor service: Independent Ferrari servicing broker Route324.com would typically source the yearly service about £400-£450 + VAT.

Cost of major service: A major service will cost in the region of £800, but if combined with the cambelts, the service can be sourced for £1000. If the valve clearances need doing, then it could add another £800 on top.

Typical spare parts prices: A new clutch on a Ferrari 308 costs around £550 + VAT (including fitting), while front brake pads and discs will cost £540 + VAT at an independent specialist.

Verdict: The Ferrari 308 GTB is a superb entry level Ferrari that is great fun and has excellent reliability. Resale values are holding very well – and it may even prove to be an investment

>> Thanks to Route324.com, the independent Ferrari servicing specialist broker

>> How to buy a used Ferrari 355
>> How to buy a used Ferrari 456