Ferrari Dino 308 GT4: expert tips on buying, maintenance and more

Photograph Courtesy RM Sotheby's

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of Classic Motorsports.]

Said Road & Track of the Ferrari 308 GT4: “It’s an exciting driver’s car. The handling is superb, the high-speed stability is exemplary, the ride is delightful and the performance is stimulating if not breathtaking.” And all these years later, the car has proved capable of enchanting drivers even after racking up the miles. A year ago, Bruce Trenery, owner of Fantasy Junction, sold his personal 308 GT4. At the time it sported 218,479 miles on the clock, as the previous owner used it as a daily driver for some 30 years. (The car went to another noted collector, Sports Car Market’s Keith Martin.)

Trenery’s big reason for loving the 308 GT4? “The driver’s position is the best I have come across in any of the mid-engine Ferraris,” he explains. “Evidently Niki Lauda did some of the suspension development for Ferrari on this model.”

More to love about the 308 GT4: “They have enough power to be fun and are pretty simple, but have a/c, power windows and stuff so are reasonably civilized,” Trenery continues. “The carb cars make a more pleasing sound to me than the injected cars.”

Some may question whether the Dino is worthy enough for the Prancing Horse, however. “A Ferrari is a 12-cylinder car,” Enzo Ferrari once told automotive journalist Paul Frère. As such, the V8-powered 308 GT4, like the maker’s previous six- and eight-cylinder models, carried a Dino badge. But the Dino sub-brand went away in 1976, and Road & Track’s 1979 review dismissed the debate, noting that the only three Ferrari models sold stateside at that time featured V8 engines.

Shopping Advice

Our Expert:
Bruce Trenery,
Fantasy Junction

For California, a 308 GT4 needs tobeal975, and the carb cars have great difficulty meeting smog, and many cars have had the smog stuff removed over the years. After ‘75 in California, you have to smog a car every two years, or upon transfer. Other states probably won’t be a problem for a ‘76–’79.

Many first-time Ferrari buyers want red, so a lot of the “starter”–class Ferraris seem to be red. In my opinion, other colors are better: silver/black, blue/white, something different makes the car more interesting to me.

I think all the cars are optioned the same, with a/c, which was R1 2 when new. That’s not obtainable anymore, so the system needs upgrading to R34.

Maintenance is not too bad. The belt service usually includes a valve adjustment and is a big project, which can include a water pump or clutch “while you’re there.” The job can balloon with this stuff, so a recent service when you buy a car is a good thing. Otherwise you have to budget it in as a baseline to get started.

I personally question the recommended belt maintenance interval of five years or 1 5,000 miles. Most cars are stored inside, and rarely does the 15,000 miles come in; I have seen 5-year-old services with only a couple of hundred miles. But if the belt breaks it’s an expensive job. Feeling lucky?

To me, the service recommendation is the same if you live in Saudi Arabia and park outside in 130-degree heat or Nome, Alaska, and you park outside in 30-degrees-below cold. Most Ferraris are kept indoors where the climate is pretty constant, and the mileage is always low, so I’m comfortable with my belt cars running at least seven years. The other problem is that the belt change is technical, and it’s not impossible for it to be a cog off and bend the valves, so sometimes “if it works, don’t fix it.” This is just my personal feeling on the subject.

For me, rust is the biggest trouble spot, as it really can’t be corrected easily to where it stays away, and everything you do on the car costs more if it’s a rusty car.

The a/c is okay if it works-not great, but okay.

Parts aren’t too much of a problem, and since the GT4 has always been cheap, there are a few parts cars out there-unlike the more expensive cars like the 275 GTB.

They are certainly better-looking with the European bumpers.

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3/7/20 8:31 a.m.

It’s aged better than anything in Ferrari’s entire contemporary lineup.

David S. Wallens
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3/24/20 7:35 p.m.

This video seriously made me want one even more. (This is Bruce Trenery's old car, too.)


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