With news of a 1960 Ferrari California 250 LWB Spider Competizione fetching an incredible $11mil (Dh40mil) at the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance in the US just last week, you’d be forgiven for thinking that owning a classic Fezza is for a fortunate few. But, if like me, you grew up in the Eighties on a steady diet of American TV shows, then perhaps your favourite prancing horse is also the 308.
That was the one Tom Selleck thrashed around Oahu, Hawaii in the action packed cop show, Magnum P.I. Now, these gorgeous successors to the Dino 246 can be had for far, far less than what the mystery collector splashed out for that 250. Granted, that was a very rare model, one of just nine built in fact with the purpose of being raced. But around $30,000 (Dh110,000) can get you one of the most recognised cars in the world.
I happen to think that the mid Eighties 308, Ferrari’s first two-seat V8 road car, was the best looking model to emerge from Maranello. It is my all-time favourite and the good news is, what with over 10,000 built between 1977 and 1985, you should be able to track down a perfect example for yourself and most importantly, without breaking the bank. The hard top GTB are fractionally cheaper than the convertible GTS but there are some vital checks you’ll need to undertake before parting with any cash.
For starters, we wouldn’t recommend touching one, no matter how shiny, without a full service history because you’ll absolutely need an accurate picture of the quality of maintenance it’s had over the years to help avoid any nasty surprises in future. Later model 308s have a tendency to rust because the bodies were made of steel (early models were made from fibre glass) so look out for areas below the front wings, the wheel arches, the lower door seals and the front and rear bumpers particularly.
These were bolted on to the body and water and moisture love getting into the gaps in there so take a thorough look. Here’s a handy tip to check if it’s been in an accident; pop the bonnet and look for signs of creasing especially between the pop up lights and the supports to the wings. The front ends of these cars weren’t the strongest – the odd knock would cause substantial damage. If you notice body panels are not flush, then walk away.
These cars lacked power steering and had a notoriously heavy clutch and shifting the five-speed manual with any sort of urgency requires a bit of muscle. The carb-fed 308s sound incredible, particularly at low revs. The 3.0-litre 16v V8 was built to last and when new, produced 240bhp at 6,600rpm. 0-100kph wasn’t too much to shout about at 6.7seconds but weighing just 1,400kg, the agile Fezza handled superbly.
These cars are ideal for the first time Ferrari buyer, offering great looks, solid performance and unlike the 250, don’t cost as much as a small country. If you want to hoon one around Hawaii, I will perfectly understand. Just don’t grow a moustache like old Tom.