Ferrari 328 primer, version 0.1 (a work in progress)

Discussion in '308/328' started by GrigioGuy, Aug 9, 2005.

  1. GrigioGuy

    GrigioGuy Splenda Daddy
    Global Moderator Owner

    Nov 26, 2001
    E ' ' '/ F
    Full Name:
    Dindu Nuffin
    Note: this is a preliminary FAQ for the prospective 328 owner. Comments and corrections are appreciated


    Ferrari 328 primer, version 0.1 (a work in progress)

    Congratulations! You've decided you want a Ferrari, and have decided that the 328 is your style.

    Now you have questions, right? Believe it or not, there's a ton of previously-posted information here on Ferrarichat that might help you. All you have to do is use the search function. See the "search" in the blue bar on the upper left? Click there, and type in the following:

    328 maintenance

    328 buying advice

    328 major service

    328 performance

    You'll see there's a ton of threads on the 328. Let's try to narrow down some of the collected wisdom on 328s.

    Section 1: The basic car

    Q: What are the differences in the year models?

    A: Between the 86-88 models, there's not really a major difference. There are running changes as shown below. The major update came in mid 88 with suspension changes that preceeded the installation of antilock braking systems in the 89 models. With the new suspension came convex wheels, replacing the previous concave ones.

    Q. What about this 88.5 model year, and the premium for 1989 model year cars?

    A: There seems to be a slight premium for post 88.5 cars. Part of this is likely due to the perceived advantages of the ABS system. Another part is simply the fact that newer cars carry a price advantage against older cars regardless of the brand. A third part of the premium is due to a number of very-low mileage 1989 328s that are on the market. These cars were set aside during the Ferrari boom on the late 80s as an investment, and tend to be priced much higher.

    Q. But the ABS -- is it worth that much more?

    A: This will be a personal decision. It is a very early system. Here's a couple of reviews/comments from owners of ABS-equipped cars

    Q: What kind of performance does the 328 offer? Will it keep up with today's sportscars?

    A: The 328 is equipped with a 3.2 litre all-aluminum V8 that puts out either 260 HP in US trim, or 270 HP in euro trim with the higher compression pistons. That was a lot of power 19 years ago, but there are now minivans that have equivalent horsepower ratings. Still, the Ferrari will take about 6 seconds to reach 60 MPH, and will run happily over 100 all day long. To get the best performance out of the 3.2 motor you really need to keep it above 5000 RPM. Luckily, that's where it sounds best!

    For a discussion of the 328 and more modern cars, see "Has my dream of 308/328 ownership become irrelevant?" and "Performance difference in a 308/328 and a 350Z..."

    Q: I've heard about this strange seating position. I'm a tall guy, can I fit in one?

    A: See "How tall is too tall?"

    Q: Ok, what about those of us with a few extra pounds?

    A: The author of this document is 5'9" and weighs 250 lbs. If I can get in, you probably can too...

    Section 2: Mechanical

    Q: What does it cost to run one of these?

    A: "It depends."

    Ok, that's a bit of a cop-out, but it really is going to depend on a few things: initial condition of the car, your driving habits, the environment you're in, etc. The key thing is to remember that the youngest 328 is still 16 years old, so as on any older car things are going to need repair. Even if the car has been stored and has almost no miles on it, rubber ages and seals dry out. There is a canard that is thrown around "A Ferrari costs $1/mile to run." While not necessarily true, some people use that as a quick guide.

    Q: What about these minor and major services?

    A: In brief, a minor service is one in which the fluids are changed, the car is given a good look-over, and the valves are adjusted. A major service includes all of that, plus changing the camshaft belts and tensioners. Many people also rebuild the waterpump during a major service. The specific list of required maintenance is included in the owner's manual. A copy of the owner's manual is available in pdf format at

    See also How much do you spend each year?

    Q: And the mileage/time requirments for these services?

    A: This is almost a religious/political argument. The big problem is that Ferrari has published conflicting information about the cambelt replacement schedule over the years, despite the fact that the same belt is used. The rule of thumb in the States seems to be 30,000 miles/5 years, while in the UK dealers are quoting every 2 years. Ferrari's manual for the States clearly shows 52,500 miles for a cambelt replacement.

    The reason this is such a hot button is that the labor costs of replacing those belts are high (much higher here in the States than abroad), and that the effects are so catastrophic if they fail. Because the Ferrari V8 motor is an "interference" motor, the valves and the pistons actually share space, cycling out of each others' way. If the timing belt breaks or skips teeth, the valves and pistons will meet and result in broken and bent parts. This is a very expensive repair.

    See "CAMBELT REPLACEMENT EXPOSED" for a rather lengthy discussion of cambelt replacement.

    Q: What does a major service cost?

    A: Once again, "it depends". The cost will vary depending on whether you take your car to a Ferrari dealer, or to an independent mechanic. It will also depend on what else you do while it's in the shop. It's very easy to get into the "might as well" mode and spend much more than the service alone would require. Also, the definition of a major service may vary from shop to shop. For some, it's just a matter of changing the belts, adjusting the valves, changing the fluid and buttoning it back up. Other shops might take a more extensive approach it the maintenance.

    This post from a shop principal gives a great perspective:

    Q: What is this talk about test pipes?

    A: The 328 has a dual ignition system, which means that each bank of the motor acts as a separate 4 cylinder engine. It is possible to have an ignition failure on just one bank. If this happens, raw fuel can be pumped through the bad bank and end up in the catalytic converter.

    The catalytic converter runs much much hotter than the rest of the exhaust system, and so the fuel can ignite inside the cat. There is a warning light in the cockpit if the temperature gets too high, known as the "slow-down light." Operation of the light is described in the owner's manual.

    Some people wish to reduce the threat of cat fires and replace the cat with a piece of plain tubing or sometimes a resonator. Because these pipes are technically illegal, they are sold for "testing purposes" and are thus known as "test pipes." Many of the installations also result in a louder or deeper exhaust note.

    Q: What is a Tubi?

    A: A Tubi is one brand of aftermarket exhaust for the 328. Many like the sound of the Tubi exhaust, others like competitors such as Ansa, Stebro, Quicksilver, and many more.

    Q; Are they reliable?

    A: If well maintained, the 328 is a mechanically reliable car. Some auxillary systems such as the A/C, accessories, window lifts are sometimes problematic. The waterpump on the car also tends to need close monitoring.

    See 328 XC x 2 for an account of a 328 owner who drove across Canada -- twice!

    Q: What about high mileage cars?

    A: The Ferrari world is a strange place. Here, a car that has travelled 2500 miles a year is considered high mileage, while any other brand would consider it low mileage. The undeniable fact is that Ferraris average much lower mileage than normal cars, and that plays into the purchasing decision. It is harder to sell a higher mileage car, and resale will usually be lower. That may be offset by a lower purchase price when you get the car.

    Higher mileage cars will tend to show more wear in the interior and may need suspension refreshes earlier than low mileage cars. On the positive side, the motor in the 328 is very robust, and many have been reported over 100,000 miles with out rebuilds.

    For a spirited debate on this topic, see Why is 56,600 miles considered high mileage?

    Q: What about low mileage cars?

    A: The other side of the coin. Low mileage is desireable to some, to a point. Very low mileage cars should look almost new, with no wear on the interior, no evidence of being taken apart, and little to no paint problems. Beware, however, the no-mile and no-maintenance "Garage Queen". There are those who believe that because their car hasn't reached the mileages listed in the maintenance schedule, the maintenance isn't due. As mentioned earlier, rubber and such deteriorates even when not in use -- rubber such as timing belts. It is highly likely that the buyer of an extremely low mileage car will spend a great deal in the early months of ownership replacing seals, belts and such.

    Another point to consider is that the odometer on the 308/328 is very easy to disconnect and the speedometers have been known to fail. Always compare the condition of the car to the listed mileage, and check the records to confirm mileage between services.

    Again, see Are High Miles or Low Miles Better on a 328?

    Q: These records you speak of, what are they?

    A: Most owners maintain precise records of repairs, services and expenditures. These records can be useful in determining what has been done to the car, and what is due to be repaired. Some cars have records back to the original delivery, and others have gaps. In general, what you are looking for is proof of the most recent major service and records during the current owner's tenure. A complete record set offers ease of mind and may make a car easier to sell, but a missing oil change record from 1992 usually won't be a deal killer.

    Section 3: Buyer's Guides

    Q: Any buyer guides out there?

    A: This post probably sums it up best

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  3. Dave

    Dave F1 Rookie

    Apr 15, 2001
    Little Rock
    Full Name:
    David Jones
    That's great Tillman,
    But I don't see any info posted about how much cocaine one can smuggle in the gas tanks of a 328, nor do I see info on what's it got on the dash.
  4. marco246

    marco246 Formula Junior

    Mar 25, 2004
    Full Name:
    Well done, Tillman!
  5. 285ferrari

    285ferrari F1 World Champ

    Sep 11, 2004
    Southern Md
    Full Name:
    Awesome post Tillman--Thanks
  6. Maceman

    Maceman Rookie

    Aug 16, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    Nicely done, Tillman!
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  8. Air_Cooled_Nut

    Air_Cooled_Nut Formula Junior

    Nov 25, 2004
    Portland, Oregon
    Full Name:
    Toby Erkson
    There's no blue bar on my screen though there is a red bar.
  9. Vlad328

    Vlad328 Formula Junior

    Mar 16, 2004
    New Orleans, LA
    Full Name:
    Vladimir Zuzukin
    Very helpful and informative. How about a post with sound clips of the various aftermarket exhausts (ANSA, Tubi, Stebro, Calisto, etc.) compared to stock exhaust note on the 328's?
  10. jimpo1

    jimpo1 Two Time F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed Owner

    Jul 30, 2001
    Dallas, TX
    Full Name:
    Jim E
    Damn Tillman, you bored at work today?
  11. GrigioGuy

    GrigioGuy Splenda Daddy
    Global Moderator Owner

    Nov 26, 2001
    E ' ' '/ F
    Full Name:
    Dindu Nuffin
    Did it during lunch...
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  13. judge4re

    judge4re F1 World Champ

    Apr 26, 2003
    Never home
    Full Name:
    Dr. Dumb Ass
    I need to start believing the productivity improvements when the WSJ reports them...

    Good stuff.
  14. STC

    STC Rookie

    Aug 18, 2005
    Hi !

    As a 328 GTS rookie I realyl found your primer very helpful. I wondered if there is already an updated version (>0.1).


  15. Tomf-1

    Tomf-1 F1 Rookie
    Silver Subscribed

    Jan 17, 2004
    Leawood KS/ South FL
    Full Name:
    great thread, tillman.

    i love the "might as well mode" terminology. the "might as well mode" at times can often cost as much as the original estimate if not more.

    my newly acquired 88.5 328gts just had a complete major service done last wk and on its way home. the original white paper est. was $3k + might-as well mode expense $4 = total $7k.
  16. GrigioGuy

    GrigioGuy Splenda Daddy
    Global Moderator Owner

    Nov 26, 2001
    E ' ' '/ F
    Full Name:
    Dindu Nuffin

    Thanks for the feedback.

    I have not yet updated this. Are there particular questions that you would like added?
  17. Easyrider7467

    Easyrider7467 Formula Junior

    Nov 3, 2005
    Northen N.J.
    Full Name:
    Thats Great Tillman.
    I have also begun compiling info myself a month or so ago to assist me in my purchase. Thanks for taking the time (lunch) to compile such info. I found it helpfull and would be more than happy to send you what I have thus far to consider it for your Guide. Thanks again!!
  18. TCJ1965

    TCJ1965 Formula Junior

    Jun 1, 2004
    Planning to get a 328GTS next spring and found this quite helpful. Can not wait for Part#2

  19. Dino 208gt4

    Dino 208gt4 F1 World Champ

    Jun 24, 2003
    European Union
    Full Name:
    it's what you call "waking up an old tread" :)
  20. GrigioGuy

    GrigioGuy Splenda Daddy
    Global Moderator Owner

    Nov 26, 2001
    E ' ' '/ F
    Full Name:
    Dindu Nuffin
    What would people like to see in part 2? I'm open for suggestions
  21. Glen_Lloyd

    Glen_Lloyd Formula Junior

    Dec 13, 2003
    Lloydminster AB
    Full Name:
    If you are going to piss off the purists, you may as well show them how to install aluminum pedals, how to paint the roof, powder coat the valve covers and install 18" wheels, maybe even how to remove the roof spoiler. LOL
  22. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
    San Antonio
    Full Name:
    Russ Turner
    This is pretty neat.

    Perhaps other things would be a section on the general development history of the car beginning as far back as the 246 and some general references to some of the earlier racing Ferrari eight cylinder engines to put the Franco Rocci engine in perspective. A brief racing history coupld be a couple of paragraphs.

    There's always the 'what can I do to make it faster' folks as well as 'what tires and/or wheels' FAQ

    I do know that the last line of one section to prepare future 328 owners should be:

    "Hey mister, it's not a Porche, it's a Ferrari..."
  23. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
    San Antonio
    Full Name:
    Russ Turner
    'scusi... Franco ROCCHI.

  24. furmano

    furmano Two Time F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Jul 22, 2004
    Full Name:
    Relatively speaking, the 328 seems to be so mechanically reliable, maybe exterior/interior maintenance would be of benefit. Paint and leather seem to be the most fragile parts of the car.

  25. alexford

    alexford Rookie

    Apr 1, 2012
    Simi Valley, Ca., US
    Full Name:
    Alex Ford
    This is an extremely interesting statement and includes pretty much a shorthand of the extremes of the two cars. While there appear to be plenty of upgrades on the 328, perhaps the driving of the 328 for the Ferrari experience is the best idea yet. I've read so much on the hot rodding of Porsche and the money spent on the doing of same and also the number of cars produced in each incarnation, that it must be true that some Ferrari owners miss the point of driving their Ferrari's. Thus are you part of the Tifosi or part of the Scuderia? And I ask you; how do you know if I know what that means? - Zioo
  26. TriforHim

    TriforHim Karting

    Jun 7, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    Full Name:
    This is a great read.
    I am in the market for a 328/308 and I found this very helpful.

    Just wanted to say thanks Tillman.

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