The Ferrari 308 and 328 are two of the most recognizable Ferrari models to the public eye and symbolize what it means to be a classic Ferrari.
The 308 GTB is one of Ferrari’s most iconic cars. The classic automobile made its debut at the 1975 Paris Motor Show, where it became immensely successful. The striking and unique design would go on to gain the affection of not only car enthusiasts, but that of musicians, actors, and celebrities alike. Having been driven by the likes of Adam West, Kate Bush, and perhaps most significantly, Tom Selleck in the hit show “Magnum, P.I.”, it is easy to see how one might consider this Ferrari a classic.
When the Ferrari Dino was halted in production in 1974, the sharp new Ferrari 308 GTB made its way into the marketplace. The Pininfarina modeled Ferrari was designed to epitomize what it meant to be a sports car in the era. Its name stemmed from the 3.0 liter and eight cylinder engine that propels it. And the “B” at the end stands for Berlinetta, which translates to “saloon” in italian, but really just means that the Ferrari is a coupe. When the 308 first released, Motor Trend gave it instant praise stating that “It’s everything a race-bred Ferrari should be--lean, taut, and full of sound and fury, a little brother to the redoubtable Boxer and a definite descendant of the 246.”
The 308 was made for quite some time, from 1975 to 1985 to be exact. During the first 18 months of production, 308’s had bodies that were constructed primarily of fiberglass, until Ferrari made the switch to all metal due to the introduction of the new GTS model. S meaning “spider”, the new 308 had a removable top which required a stronger frame. Nowadays, the original fiberglass-built-bodies are in high demand compared to the steel bodies due to the fact that they are lighter by almost 300 pounds and supposedly have the best sounding engine.
In 1980, the 308 was updated with improved bolstering on the bucket seats as well changes to the steering wheel and location of the clock and oil temp gauge. Due to tightening emissions regulations, the 308 was fitted with a Bosch K-Jetronic injection system, signified by the GTBi/GTSi name. Unfortunately this injection caused the horsepower to fall from 240 to around 210. At this point, the 308 was losing horsepower with every new model that came to market, making it the slowest car of their family. Something had to be done. Luckily, Ferrari came up with the solution to have 4 valves per cylinder, offering optimal efficiency. Thus came the 308 GTBi/GTSi Quattrovalvole.
Horsepower jumped back up to 240 in the U.S. and the tire size grew from 205 to 220 millimeters across. Another change to the steering wheel was made to make it appear more modern and sleek, as well changes to the weight of the vehicle. The QV’s are heavier than the original fiberglass framed 308’s but with higher speed and power output. The Quattrovalvole models were recognized as the best performing Ferrari 308’s of the entire family, that is until the 328 came along.
The Ferrari 328 made its debut in 1985 when it replaced the 308 in the mid-engine V8 family tree. The Ferrari 328 was a quite the improvement, Pininfarina made slight changes to the 308’s strong and dazzling lines as well as changing the grill on the front and back of the car. In addition, form-fitting bumpers that matched the color of the body were installed, and five spoke wheels with a concave shape came standard with the car. On the inside, the 328 had a revised dash and more supportive seats alongside new supplementary controls and door panels. But perhaps most significant change from the 308 is of course the engine.
The V8 increased by 200cc to 3185cc, and horsepower climbed to 260 in the U.S. and 270 in Europe. Also changed were the piston heads as they went under complete redesign, along with the camshafts that were lifted. These changes, on top of the new power to weight ratio of 5kg/bhp, helped thrust the 328 back into supercar status.
Although the 308 and 328 are very similar cars, enthusiasts often debate over which is superior, with each model having unique aspects, it isn’t as easy of an answer as one might think. So, which one is better?
There are special features to each model. Remember, the first Ferrari 308’s had fiberglass frames and less than a thousand were made. The rarity combined with improved performance makes them increasingly sought after in today’s market. On the contrary, the steel framed 308 introduced the GTS model, which is less rare but at least you can take the top off.
The 308i is probably the most ignored model because of how its performance pales in comparison the original 308 GTB. However, it is also the most affordable. Lower power output can often cause the engine to last longer, making the 308i great for touring purposes where power is not the primary focus.
The 308 QV is said to be the most desirable, but the most expensive of the 308 series as well. It is nearly as powerful as the 308 GTB and has the reliability of the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injected system. It is also the newest of the 308 series, even though at this point, age is not as important as how well the car has been maintained. The Ferrari 308 is still a very nice looking car. It has quality performance, fantastic appeal, and each variant of the model entices buyers in their own way.
As for the 328, its main advantages are its relative newness, the higher quality engine, and its greater availability. The engine is superior to all 308 models but doesn’t have the same look. The style of the 328 picks up up where the 308 left off, and there are many upgrades in regards to the interior, but deciding if the styling is “better” is purely subjective.
It really boils down to which variants are being compared. The 328 GTBi and 308 GTBi are vastly different in terms of power output and engine capabilities. The 308 GTB is the fastest out of the 308 models but doesn’t have all the stylistic features of the 328. Does rarity make it that much better? As with any situation, one can perpetually go back and forth between each model, but as always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The real question is what color (besides rossa corsa)?
Written By: Aaron Gonzales