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Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
9/30/10 10:42 a.m.

So lately I've been very tempted to buy an early Ferrari 308. The prices are low, and it seems everyone is in agreement that they won't stay low for much longer. I'd want a GTB (hardtop) pre-injected car. In any color besides red or yellow.

Does anyone have any experience with these cars? Any interest? Am I completely insane.....or just partially insane?

rconlon HalfDork
9/30/10 11:25 a.m.

My friend has a white one. It may be for sale. It is not pristine but is a rust-free OK car with a whole bunch of carbs that sing lovely tunes.

Cheers Ron

Ian F
Ian F Dork
9/30/10 12:34 p.m.

Depends. A friend of ours has a '79 308 and basically confirmed every worry (and killed every dream) I've had about owning one: "Maybe you can afford to buy one, but can you afford to own one?"

Ferrari parts & service are still frighteningly expensive, regardless of the model year.

He brought it to Watkins Glen this year for the Vintage festival and the Glenora run. The funny part was the 308 had to warm up longer in morning than the 2 classic Mini's that we were also staying with.

BoxheadTim Dork
9/30/10 1:17 p.m.

A colleague here at work has a 328GTS that overall seems to be in rather good condition. That said, it does seem to need the occasional visit to the Ferrari specialist up in Reno for some additional TLC. However some of the work that needed doing seems to be either because it wasn't used much prior to him getting it or a little maintenance hangover.

All that said, I think this is definitely one of those cars where 'buy the best one you can find' is of utmost importance.

racerdave600 HalfDork
9/30/10 1:36 p.m.

I've never owned one either, so you can take this with a grain of salt. I did however know a guy that did. He did all of his own maintenance which he said wasn't all that hard (he was pretty good with a wrench though). That said, parts were VERY expensive when it needed them. He also kept the mileage low by not driving it all that often.

I loved the was it looked and sounded, but even if I could do all the maintenance myself, I couldn't afford the parts bill. Well, I might could, but the wife cringed at the 944 Turbo parts bills, not sure she would survive the first order of Ferrari parts!

Last thing, I like to drive my cars as often as possible, and I don't want any car that has to have a limited usage. I'd be worried about taking the Ferrari to the store or work, let alone on track, but maybe that's just me. My wallet is not that fat. If I had enough money, I might think differently, but I'd have to stretch to keep it.

The 944 Turbo was as fast as the Ferrari in many respects and lacked that great steering feel, but if it got dinged up so what. And if I wadded it up on track, there are plenty more where it came from at amazingly low prices!

The point of all of this rambling is, how bad do you want it? Do you want one bad enough to put up with the costs and other issues of having one in the garage, or are their other more cost effective solutions that give you more outlets for your money?

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
9/30/10 3:58 p.m.

Thanks for the input guys! We are always playing the "what will appreciate next" game here at the office, and the 308 seems to be the next likely candidate. Because of Magnum P.I. it is arguably the most iconic Ferrari ever made. They are also very inexpensive currently. ( $25-$40K) It would seem to be a good car to buy, enjoy, and turn for a profit in a few years. That is.....unless the parts bug bites you!

I'm pretty frightened by the possible parts costs, but who hasn't wanted a Ferrari at some point? The 308 was known to be a pretty solid car, and a very balanced handler. Not crazy fast in a straight line, but there are other cars for that!

I'm just mulling it over at this point, but I've sure done dumber things!

boeingpilot New Reader
9/30/10 4:17 p.m.

Joe -

If you do get one you absolutely HAVE to grow a mustache and wear your aloha shirt...

racerdave600 HalfDork
9/30/10 4:25 p.m.

I thought the aloha shirt came standard? Doesn't one come in the trunk, and another framed for display?

9/30/10 4:44 p.m.

A local independent wrench (who didn't work on Ferarri's) put it this way, several years ago: "the 308 is the Ferrari for the guys who really can't afford them".

ddavidv SuperDork
10/1/10 5:43 a.m.

That's more true of the totally unloved GT4 version.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
10/1/10 10:13 a.m.
Honolulu wrote: A local independent wrench (who didn't work on Ferarri's) put it this way, several years ago: "the 308 is the Ferrari for the guys who really can't afford them".

I agree with this to a point, and deferred maintenance would be a potential problem. Actually, ALL maintenance could be a potential $$ problem!

The thing I like the least is the "cachet" that comes with a Ferrari. I like them because they sound great, handle well, look good, and the company has a fantastic history. My car buying decisions are based on how a car makes me feel, not what others think about me.

Keep in mind, one of my DDs is an AMC Eagle! I don't even want to know what kind of image that projects.

I'm mainly dreaming here, but the thought of buying a Ferrari for less than the price of a new Camry, driving it (occasionally) for a few years and selling at a profit is an awfully appealing one!

Does anyone else see the "logic" of this? Are there any other cars out there with an upside as potentially large as a 308?

rconlon HalfDork
10/1/10 4:26 p.m.

Joe: A lot of older sports cars fall into this category of being just off the bubble from rock bottom and begining steady value increases.
A decent MGB today will cost you about $5000 and continue to appreciate in value for the next 5 years. In that time I expect it to be valued at roughly $9000. The 308 today at $25000 in 5 years will be $40000. So a choice can be made to purchase 5 MGB's or one Ferrari 308. A Ferrari is more likely to go viral than a gaggle of MGB's and reach $100K in 5 years. It is a better bet. We all recall the Dino that no-one seemed to want in the 1980's. Cheers Ron

Sownman New Reader
10/1/10 5:54 p.m.

Sadly it sounds like the smart financial play is to buy one then take it apart and sell the parts

Seems not to long ago a reasonable Testarossa could be had for $40k, now thats a Ferrari.

Ian F
Ian F Dork
10/2/10 7:29 p.m.

In reply to Joe Gearin:

I think the next step in considering a Ferrari should be to do some research into how much general maintenance would cost, either DIY or paying a reputable shop.

I can see your logic... our friend is considering putting his up for sale and moving up to a used 360. I don't know how much he paid for his current car, but I don't he'll sell it for a loss.

Travis_K Dork
10/2/10 7:43 p.m.

I have only seen one 308. It was at an autocross, and it was the slowest car there, and made huge clouds of blue smoke every run. I was not impressed. Why not get a Lancia Scorpion or a Fiat x1/9? Or maybe several of each? It would still probably be cheaper.

pjr300 New Reader
10/3/10 7:40 p.m.
boeingpilot wrote: Joe - If you do get one you absolutely HAVE to grow a mustache and wear your aloha shirt...

And a Detroit Tigers hat.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
10/4/10 9:28 a.m.
Travis_K wrote: I have only seen one 308. It was at an autocross, and it was the slowest car there, and made huge clouds of blue smoke every run. I was not impressed. Why not get a Lancia Scorpion or a Fiat x1/9? Or maybe several of each? It would still probably be cheaper.

Travis, Although the 308 is by no means the fastest Ferrari out there, most are not slow. The early ones with carbs were pretty quick, as were the later Quattrovalve models. (0-60 in 6.5, top speed around 140) Not a rocket sled, but not a slug either.

I love the idea of buying 5 MGBs instead......but unfortunately my space is a bit limited. Believe me, I'd love to fill a barn with sub $5K cars!

Any other ideas on what cars will skyrocket in value within the next 10 years?

racerdave600 HalfDork
10/4/10 11:20 a.m.

That's always a difficult thing to nail down. I wish I'd bought up as many micro cars as I could find about 10 years ago. Look at what they are selling for now compared to then. Who knew?

I had a Fiat 600D that I paid $750 for in restored condition. It was a guy's dream car that he pampered, but pretty much worthless then. Now that would be a $5k to $10k car. Multiplas are even higher, and look at Isettas.

Today is that a CRX or Miata? Or what about a TT Supra or RX7TT? A C4 'Vette? It's hard to say, but I always buy cars that I like versus what will accumulate the most dollars, that's why I never make money I suppose.

But I see your point. If you pick the right car, you shouldn't lose any money on a 308. I don't think you'd get rich off one either though since they are pretty common by Ferrari standards.

rconlon HalfDork
10/4/10 11:25 a.m.

I expect the Fiat spider to start getting some attention as well as the X1/9 when Fiat comes to town. But, assuming a good restoration costs $20k, then it will be a while before that lofty number is reached. MGA comes to my mind as something that could go viral. I don't think they have topped out yet. Anything with the Abarth label is a good bet to restore. Cheers Ron

WedgeWorks1 New Reader
10/4/10 1:35 p.m.

I live in a neighborhood that has 3 Ferrari 308s and a 328. I have never seen so many in one area! I do like the looks and if you want a Ferrari that wont break the bank unless you really break the Ferrari I see this as an obtainable user's Ferrari. Mentioning colors the cars are, yellow, red, dark blue and white. Then again I get to see every weekend driving by my house on nice days a 289 "real" Shelby Cobra, DeTomas Pantera, XKE Coupe, New Ferraris, Lotus, Lamborginis, and Aston Martins. Sometimes I think Jay Leno lives a few houses over! I would recommend driving one first before you jump in head first!

Andy Reid
Andy Reid Auction Editor
10/5/10 9:36 a.m.

The above comment is key Joe, drive one and make sure you like it before going further. make Mike Pierce let you drive his the next time you see him.

wcelliot HalfDork
10/6/10 3:24 p.m.

I've owned a '78 308GTB for about 6 years now. It's not particularly quick nor that great handling, but the driving experience is well worth the cost of admission.

It's also been one of the most reliable cars I've ever owned. Always starts, never has any serious issue that won't get me home, etc. (The reason the Ferrari took longer than the Minis to warm up is that many owners have disconnected the choke... a malfunction choke... common on the Webers... can damage an engine badly. So we're starting and warming up with open carbs.)

Now, Ferrari guys tend to fall into a couple of distinct categories... purists who go to a dealer for everything and demand all Ferrari parts... and enthusiasts who see them as just another car, don't mind working on them themselves, and are willing to make sensible modifications.

The Ferrari parts you have to buy (swithces and the like) are indeed expensive. But I've placed only two orders to Ferrari in the past 5 years... just for switches and the like. I've spent a lot more with Clark's Corvairs... ;-)

Beware cars that sit... mine was driven regularly (though cosmetically it looked horrible) and that's a good sign that all is well. I drove many low mileage garage queens that needed a ton of work.

I also drove very few injected cars that felt right... and though the QV's are a superior car, the driving experience isn't as good. And servicing them is much more difficult.

Ferrari lore says that non-red cars are much more likely to have been enthusiast owned (and much less likely to have been owned by the gold chain crowd who used them as fashion accessories and deferred maintenance) and I have to say, in shopping for a car I found that to be pretty accurate.

You need timing belts and tensioners every 3 years. That's abouut $300 in parts and $800-1000 in labor if an indpendent does it... or a Saturday afternoon if you do it yourself. I removed the AC compressor from mine (even working perfectly they work poorly) so access is very good. Take it to a dealer and they want to rebuild the carbs, adjust the values, etc... and it turns into a $3500-4000 service. I've not touched the carbs in 4 years (since I rejetted) and the valves have never needed adjustment.

Electrics tend to be weak... an enthusiast provided fuse block upgrade cured 95% of my car's ills. Cost was under $100 and took 30 minutes to install.

The suspensions need to be rebuilt every 60k or so... Ferrari parts would make you sell the car... aftermarket costs little more than going through an MGB front end. I converted to QA1's and coilovers while I was at it, giving me an easily adjusted suspension and getting me away from the non-adjustible, proprietary Konis and spings.

A Ferrari exhaust can be $3000. A custom made one $500. Plenty of room for whatever you like. (I splurged and spent $1000 on a stainless Strebo... just for the looks and the sound)

The #1 reason for poor running is the ignition system. The carb cars have two separate distributors (each with low speed and high spped points) and the engine is basically two four cylinders sharing a common crank. The distributors have to be timed perfectly with each other, advance perfectly in synch, change to high speed points perfectly in synch, etc. A lot to ask for a 30 year old analog system.

A tune up with Ferrari parts will cost $1200 in parts alone. And it's also typically done at the timing belt change.

For that same $1200 I installed an XDi crank fired ignition. It immediately transformed the already good-running car from what felt like a high strung, hot cammed racer into an engine with plenty of low end torque and a power delivery as smooth as a Honda. The purists howl when I open my hood... but I'll never have to touch it again and the car drives better than any 308 I've driven..

In summary, a carbed Ferrari can be maintained fairly reasonably if you are willing to treat it like a car and not a museum piece. The downside if if something does happen it can get painful quickly ( a snapped timing belt could hit you for a $15k engine rebuild)... but then that's not that much different than say a $5000 transmission job on a Mercedes S500... and the latter is a much more likely event to happen.


wcelliot HalfDork
10/6/10 3:30 p.m.

WedgeWorks1 New Reader
10/6/10 4:53 p.m.

See another 308 in Maryland! IM SURROUNDED!

Andy Reid
Andy Reid Auction Editor
10/6/10 9:17 p.m.

Do it Joe, you know you want to.

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