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History 1- Genesis of the GT4:

History of the road-going, transverse engined V8 Ferraris, started with the «Dino 308GT4», which is one of the most interesting yardsticks in the marque’s long history. Visually, this car is a turning point with its «wedge» line and angular angles, very fashionable in the 1970’s. But we do not know why Enzo Ferrari decided to entrust the design of this car to «Bertone» rather than «Pininfarina» as usual, which gave us a very different car compared to the traditional Pinifarian design of flowing curves. Some sources mention that Pinifarina was actually requested to submit a proposal, but backed out of it, considering that the equation was too difficult to solve.

Two other important decisions were taken during the 308GT4 gestation period, the first one being about the engine: to stop developping the «Dino 246» V6, and rather invest in a brand new V8; the second one being about the number of seats: to build a four seater (or, more exactly a «2+2») which meant not to give the «Dino 246» a direct successor; said with other words: to abandon the two-seater «Berlinetta».

It seems that the decision to design a new engine, of a different type (a 90° flat crank V8 of 3 liter capacity vs the 65° 2,4 litre V6) resulted, as far as it is possible to ascertain, mainly from the introduction of new emission laws in the United States, starting in the State of California, scheduled for 1975. These made an engine of larger capacity desirable, to obtain the necessary power and torque margins to accept the future anti-emissions devices, rather than trying to squeeze more power out of the existing V6: the V8 engine seemed to have more future development potential to absorb any anti-emission device. Raising the capacity of an engine was usual evolution at Ferrari during these years: it was still a company with a very small annual production (about 1.000 cars per year in 1973) and which didn’t have the financial ressources to invest in a completly new engine design for each model’s renewal. Thus, these financial constraints influenced also the new V8 design: a brand new engine block was indeed casted, and new heads also, but the pistons, sleeves and con-rods are those of the 4,4litre V12 of the so-called «Daytona»: the V8 cylinders have the same 365cm3 individual capacity as the V-12, multiplied «only» by eight, of course, which gives us a 2.926cm3 V8, leaving an additionnal potential of 60cm3 aside, so the V8 didn’t reach the closest potential to 3.000 cm3 (the contemporary Formula One DFV V8 had a capacity of 2.993 cm3); the engine is missing 60 possible additional cubic centimeter to be a true 3 litre, but this eases and simplifies the parts’ procurement circuit. Of course, the V8 engine was not a new architecture for Ferrari, which had already designed and built race engines of this configuration, notably the famous «158» of 1.500cm3, which powered the 1964 World Champion, but also a lesser known 2.800 cm3 V8 in 1967. And the V8 would prove to be an inspired choice, as this engine block that was about to appear with the (V8 engined) 308GT4 would remain the basis for development of all road going Ferrari V8 cars up to, and including, the 360 Modena…

The decision to make the car a four-seater, or more exactly a 2+2, could have been dictated by FIAT, which wanted to capitalize on the «Dino 206/246» success in opening the range of Ferrari cars by the bottom, but with a frontal opposition to the Porsche 911 this time. In the design of the car, as in the engine’s, we find again the application of Ferrari’s customary «constant evolution» principle, as the 308GT4 chassis is a straight evolution of the one of the «Dino 246». It could be argued that this chassis should be called rather a «ladder» chassis instead of a «Tubular» one, as, outside the four pyramids of tubes for the suspensions anchoring, it is mainly a ladder lying flat, with extensions to carry the bulkheads, not a true tubular chassis (see the one of the contemporary Lamborghini Countach as a good example of a tubular chassis). We must add here that the choice of a «2+2» configuration was by no means certain from the start, as studies circa 1971 do exist indeed in Maranello’s archives for a two seater V8 engined Berlinetta; this is confirmed in Leonardo Fioravanti’s (designer of the 308 GTB, among other beautiful Ferraris…) recent authobioigraphy (see supra). The «Dino 308GT4» importance for the future of Ferrari, at the time of its market debut, should certainly not be overlooked. When that car reached the markets in the Autumn of 1973, she had become absolutely vital for the company. Ferrari was selling about 30% of its production in the United States, which was by far its first market; it was very obvious for the marque technicians, as for the marketing responsibles that the «Dino 308GT4» would be the only car of Ferrari’s range able to satisfy the new emission laws that were about to be implemented in the United States, and in so doing, be «federalised»; that is, granted a certification valid in each and every state of the United States, allowing that car to be sold everywhere in the U.S without having to be certifed locally in each State. The factory has reluctantly accepted that the V12 engined cars couldn’t hope to cope with the new emission laws, and that there was no perspective for these to achieve federal certification without a fundamental design change: adopting injection, which allowed catalytic convertors easier than carburators. Said in other words, Ferrari absolutely needed the american market, which was its first and the most important, and the only car that could succeed in so doing was the «Dino 308GT4».

However, the sales of the «308GT4» remained rather disappointing, for reasons that are more complex than the usual explanation of a car «not well lked for a long time». This is a bit on the short side, and to say things plainly, simply not true in some aspects; testing the car for the first time, when it entered the market, the well-known french journalist José Rosinski was very complimentary and elogious in the then french reference magazine for Sports cars, «Sport-Auto»: he concluded: «This is the best Ferrari that we have been able to test until now». A badly timed external factor of some importance was the first «oil crisis», which resulted from the «Yom Kippour war» of October 1973. Arab oil-producing countries decided an embargo on oil exports, which tumbled some western economies, and in some of these, produced reluctance towardsgas-guzzling sports cars (some readers might recall that in France, the then Messmer government prohibited any track activity or racing after October 1973, a decision that was rescinded after a few months). The car’s reception in the United States was tepid or lukewarm. There were some reluctance in the first place, towards Ferrai’s decision to sell this car, the only new car from Maranello available, under a different brand than «Ferrari». Enzo Ferrari has always been of the opinion that «a Ferrari must have a 12 cylinder engine», which meant that a car with another engine configuration does not deserve the «Ferrari» badge, hence the creation and registration of a new brand, «Dino», for the «small Ferraris» (Period advertisement for the 308GT4 in the french press by the historic importer, Charles Pozzi called the 308GT4 exactly that: «the small Ferrari»). When the common Vehicle International Numbering system, with 17 positions, was introduced at Ferrari in 1980, it was devised with the first three identification digits «ZFF» for Ferrari Maranello, and with «ZDF» for Dinos, showing that, at least from a legal point of view, a «Dino» is not a Ferrari (the last dozen or so of Right Hand Drive 308GT4 for the UK market, and these only, received a 17 digit position VIN starting by «ZDF» punched into the chassis bar, making these unique). Prospective customers were not that enthusiastic about signing a rather high cheque for a car that was not badged «Ferrari»; it could also have been the case a few years earlier for the «Dino 246», but that car didn’t have any true competition on its market, being a two seater and having a strong Ferrari-family shape.

2- Enters the 308 GTB:

Ferrari, and its shareholder FIAT, accepted rather quickly, during 1974, that the sales of the 308GT4 would not reach the expected numbers. A few hundreds of 308GT4 remained unsold, waiting for a buyer, sometimes for months. This meant that the survival of the company was threatened in the short to middle term. Decisions had to be taken: some in the short term, another one for the middle term, which would have far reaching consequences, even capital: without it, Ferrari would not exist anymore today. The short-term one was to do anything possible to save the 308GT4 sales, which meant branding the car as «Ferrari», which explain the additional badges that appeared on the later cars.

The mid-term one was an about-face by Enzo Ferrari, who decided that, in the end, the «Dino 246» needed a direct descendant after all, in the form of a strict two seater «Berlinetta», but fitted with the V8 engine. Designed and developped in the shortest possible period of time, the 308 GTB («308» for «3,0 litre capacity ,8 cylinders», «GTB» for Gran Turismo Berlinetta) was variant with removable top became available two years later, presented for the first time at the 1975 Paris salon, in September. Reception was unanimously enthusiastic, and when the «GTS» Ferrari hit the right spot for the American market, that the car conquered easily, because it was exactly right for it, ensuring the brand’s survival. Even leaving aside the numerous merits of the car, the 308 GTB/GTS is indeed one of the most important cars of the long Ferrari history: proof is that, from the 3200 carbed 308 GTS built, two-third were exported to the United States, and these rescued the company.

The designer of the 308 GTB for Pinifarina was Leonardo Fioravanti, whose hand, at the time, had already penned the «Dino 246» (and the «365 Daytona»); in his autobiography, «il cavallino nel cuore» he remembers that he already had started the design of a two-seater «Berlinetta» in 1969, this as a successor to the «Dino 246», but that he had to leave his work unfinished when the factory concentrated its efforts on the «SuperBerlinetta», a car was to become the «Berlinetta Boxer», that is the 365 GT4BB, later 512BB. He writes that when advised that Ferrari would, after all, produce a true successor to the «Dino 246» in the shape of another «Two-seater Berlinetta», at the end of 1974, and that Enzo Ferrari has required that he was to be entrusted with the design, he took his first drawings and studies of 1969-1970, and started developing from these at home after work, as he didn’t have any other spare capacity. The two designs of the 308 GTB and the «BB» are more or less contemporary, which explains the common mutual inspiration between the two cars. Enzo Ferrari having insisted on the shortest possible period of development, some expedient had to be used: for instance, the 308GTB chassis is not a new design, but a shortened 308GT4 chassis. But some less well known aspects of the car’s development are interesting: - The then leading driver of the Scuderia in Formula One, Niki Lauda, was effectively involved in defining the set-up of the car; in the following years, he downplayed his involvement, but in 1975 explained to a german magazine that: «the 308 GTB, as a prototype, was a very touchy car and rather demanding to drive, it oversteered very easily; my perception of a car destined for a broad range of owners was that it should be adapted for drivers with different abilities, and this is why we worked on the suspension and its set-up until we had a car that was understeering gently when it reached its limits, which is more secure; of course, the 308 still accepts to oversteer, but you have to ask it to do so».

- The two or three development prototypes pictured during the trial are still badged as «Dino»... Of course the reader would not be satisfied without a few words about the famous subject of the use of fiberglass for the body of the first 800 or so GTBs, cars usually called «Vetroresina», this from the Italian word which means «resin of glass, or fiberglass». We have to say that the explanations are still as opposed as they were forty years ago, and the definitive answer is yet to be provided. One of the most frequent is the very short period of time allowed by Enzo Ferrari for the development of the car. He is supposed to have phoned Leonardo Fioravanti at the beginning of 1975 to tell him that he needed to draw a «V8 engined two seat Berlinetta» to succeed the «Dino 246», and that he had to work as fast as he can as the car must be ready for the Paris salon in September 1975, so «do what needs to be done, even built the body in glassfibre if that helps to shorten the delay». This interpretation seems to be strengthened by a number of persons close to the factory people, who take for granted that the production switch to steel bodies was always the objective, this to occur at about the same time than the start of the spider («GTS») production, which version could not be built in glassfibre. But in his aforementionned autobiography, Fioravanti himself had opposite views: he says that glassfibre was chosen mainly for its lightness, and because his collegue Giuseppe Dondo has just sanctionned its use for the production cars. Fioravanti is of the opinion that, far from accelerating the cars’s introduction, the glassfibre has in fact delayed the arrival of the first examples for sale, as it proved difficult to reach the standards set by the factory for the material itself (it is indeed true that the glassfibre used on the 308 GTB is of high quality and rather thick). Whatever the truth about why fiberglass was chosen, the fiberglass bodied GTBs are a small legend themselves among the Ferrari history, not only for the material itself, but also for a number of reasons, which have to do with figures and numbers, mainly. The first topic is the confusion that still remains about the rather wild figures given all along the years about the weight gain supposed to be allowed by glassfibre, weight figures that the factory didn’t contribute to make right by allowing a veil of mystery to survive, which explain the supposedly fantastic characteristic attributred to these cars. With the miracles of the Internet, one of which being the habit of many to repeat figures and quotes without giving their sources and without cross-checking either, these figures, already proven wrong, are nevertheless still usually quoted today. When the factory started the process of registration of the car by the Italian department of transportation, the factory itself defined the empty weight of the car as 1240 kgs (2.740 lbs; with 1 lb = 0,453 kgs). This is the official empty weight of the car admitted at the time by the factory and certified as such by the italian department of transportation, and the buck should have stopped right here. Let’s say right now and for good that it is indeed the weight anyone putting an empty «Vetroresina» on a scale will find. Therefore, this is the true empy weight of the car. An empty steel bodied 308 GTB in «about the same» condition (it is always difficult to be absolutely sure of the remaining quantities of fluids : coolant, brake fluid, engine oil, transmission oil, etc… or the fitting of option like air conditioning and its compressor, etc…) weights at 1260 kgs (2788 lbs). Therefore, the exact, true, measurable gain in weight of a glassfibre cars versus a steel one is 25 to 30 kilos, about 50 to 60 lbs, and no more. Now…where do the crazy figures come from? Do not forget that if the official certificate from the Italian department of transportation says 1240 kgs, the factory nevertheless printed publicity litterature that say «1150 kgs», without, of course, any explanation. And that some press articles even say «1090 kgs», which would have the fiberglass car 170 kgs lighter than the steel bodied one (It is perhaps useful to be reminded that the usual thickness of automotive steel sheets is 0,7 mm, for a weight of 7 kgs per square meter; so to shed 170 kgs, you would have to get rid of 25 m² of steel, more even taking into account the weight of the fiberglass’ parts themselve…) As for the empty weight of a fiberglass GTBs in «european» variant, the answer is certain: 1240 kgs it is. In the same vein, a confusion still exists about the number of fiberglass cars actually produced, until production switched to steel. The factory has always said that «808» cars were built, but other figures are still used, and notably «712»; that one originated from a renowned Ferrari expert, Gerald Roush, in an article of the Eighties. Roush himself admitted later that his count was wrong, taking the figure of «154 Right Hand Drive cars» for the total of all RHD cars produced for all RHD countries, whereas it is in truth the number for the UK market only, which neglects for instance the 44 RHD cars produced for Australia… The science of cross-checking the Ferrari production numbers is not an easy one; we could only take for certain that the exact number of «Vetroresinas» built will not be confirmed in the future, but this writer’s impression is that it is probably very close of the «808» published by the factory, or even spot on. This doubt on the «Vetroresina» production numbers, 712 vs 808, gives us a difference of 96 cars, which is also the difference between the numbers usually given for the total of all carbed GTBs built, glassfibre and steel, because the most often quoted figures are 2897 or 2993, giving us a difference of…96… Not that it means that the production figure for the steel cars is certain at 2185, however. Some doubt exists here also; but this writer’s impression is that the total production for all carbed GTBs is probably close to 2993, the one for steel cars «close to 2185», and the one for «Vetroresinas» close to 808. And that’s the best he can do for the time being.

How legendary the figures and numbers of the early 308 GTB might be, the 308 GTB entry into production illustrates rather well how production of a car destined to be sold the world over was demanding on the factory men and organisation when built in such small series. Several standard variants for different markets had to be produced simultanously: - one that could be called «standard continental european» (for the italian, french, german, belgian, dutch…etc…markets) with a production, for the «Vetroresinas» of «about 510 cars»; Left Hand Drive, dry sump engine, single pipe exhaust. - one specifically for the US market only, wet-sump engien to comply with the emission laws, four pipe exhaust, 100 cars. - one for the UK, which is the same car as the «standard continental european» (dry sump engine, etc…), but with Right Hand Drive, about 154 cars. - one for the Australian market, which has wet sump engine, but Right Hand Drive : at least 44 cars. It should also be said that Ferrari wasn’t producing every parts itself: the factory casted the engines and assembled them, and assembled the cars. The châssis were built by an external provider, Vaccari et Bosi, steel parts for the body were done by Scaglietti, bought by Ferrari at the end of the sixties.

Money was still rather scarce at Ferrari during the seventies, which still was an artisan company, with very low production figures (about 2000 cars produced in 1979, all models included). This explains that the production of parts designed especially for a model was most of the time not economically justifiable, so many small interior parts, lights, etc…came from the FIAT and Alfa-Romeo catalogue. In the same way, when a modification was introduced, or when a model changed substancially, some of the older parts were not always disclosed immediately: rather the existing stocks were used until exhaustion, which explains that for the cars produced at about the time of the change, the first cars of «newer» variant may still have some superseeded parts for some time here and there. It can also be necessary to state here that, contrary to a legend usually told by people who scorn the «small Ferraris», these cars were never produced «by automated machines on a chain like the FIATs». They were still essentially manually build, at a rather slow production rate of about two to three cars each day, and the body panels were still adjusted by hand; the seams between these panels in the typical time honored fashion being hammered with lead. These cars are still very far from a large serie standardisation, with parts to the same, exact measure, that can be easily switched between one car and the other. That is something that Ferrari started to begin, but only started, with the 328; the first computer-controled automated machines for a «half-automated production» entered service from 1983 onwards. Lets us not forget that the 308GT4 was, of course, produced at the same time, also in different variants for different markets of destination, which was a further factor complicating the production lines. That complexity went one step further in 1977 for the 308 GTB production, when the bodies switched from fiberglass to steel (during a bried period of some weeks, the last «vetroresina» were built at the same time that the first «european» steel bodied cars, even if both could not be ordered at the same time) then one step further still with the introduction of the first «anti-ermission» device on the US model, with catalytic converters, dilution tubes on the headers, a new engine hood with more air extraction louvres (the same one that all models of 328 were to be fitted with later in 1985) and new camshafts with cams of a modified profile.

3- And now, the spider: the 308 GTS:

Late in 1977, the variant with the removable top, the GTS, joined the Berlinetta (GTB) on the production chain; that car, too, would be produced in different models for the market of destination, but all had the wet-sump engine (or, said in other words: no production GTS ever came out of the factory with a dry-sump engine). All GTS produced for the US market had emission control devices (catalytic converter, etc…) right from the start. The GTS was absolutely crucial for Ferrari sales on the United States market, which is very fond of open-top cars, to the point that, during the first six months of the GTS production (October 1977 to March 1978) 80% of the GTS produced were US models, exported immediately.

After two years, the 308GTB/GTS has find its niche in the markets, and iproved to be a resounding success. The number of different versions for each specific market was responsible for the end of the «matching numbers» principle, which was used for the road-going Ferraris of the fifties and sixties: chassis, engine and transmission received the exact same number on the production line, which allowed later in the car’s life a very quick check to discover if one main component has been changed or not. This was clearly not feasible without a lot of complications for the 308, produced in many different versions depending on the destination market, each with a different variant of engine, transmission, etc… So the chassis were assembled already for a specific destination market, they were fitted with an engine and transmission corresponding to that market also, but the chassis, engine and transmission numbers are not «matched»: these three are not the same, unique, identical, number. However, the production sheet for the car clearly indicates which engine and which transmission were originally fitted to each chassis. At the end of the seventies, Ferrari was about to reach a new dimension. The factory has produced more than 2.000 cars a year for the first time in 1979, it offered a rather comprehensive range of four cars (a two-seater V12 Boxer Berlinetta / a «2+2» Grand Tourer with a V12 engine / a V8 engined Berlinetta or Spider – the 308 GTB/GTS / and a V8 engined «2+2», the 308GT4) not to mention that the V8 engined cars were also produced with a destroked 2liter V8 for the italian market only. The brand was also about to explode in terms of overall recognition the world over: the success of the «Magnum P.I» serie was to make the 308GTS recognisable instantly everywhere. Ferrari was no more a brand known only to the petrolheads and race fans, it entered the eighties as a luxury brand desirable for many more people. Whether one has to rejoice about this is of course debatable, but the fact is that the brand was no more destined to its usual niche market, it was now among the star brands that will be aduled by the eighties, the decade of easy money. From a technical point of view, at this time Ferrari still has a difficult turn to take, and this will not happen without pain, this was the switch from carburettors to injection.

It was probably not a light-hearted decision to make for a company deeply rooted in tradition: carburettors were associated with the automobile golden age, but the anti-emission regulations were getting more stringent in the United States, and Europe was about to start following suit; furthermore, the «second oil crisis» of 1979 was another factor that make the switch to injection ineluctable. Of course, the racing Ferraris had switched to injection more than a decade before; but for the road-going cars, Ferrari wanted a proved, standard, device from a respected provider: once again, the small number of cars produced would not allow the expense of studying and producing a specific and dedicated product, so the Bosch K-Jetronic system (which is mechnaical rather than electronic) was adopted. Notably, it offered an «on-the-shelf» variant than is designed specifically for engine that had catalytic converters, such as the Ferraris for the American market. The first Ferraris with an injected engine were the V-12 cars (the «400», becoming «400i»); the 308 followed suit quickly after: at the beginning of the 1980 autumn, the 308 in its injected variant, called «308GTBi»/«GTSi» was introduced to the press. The new car also presented the first evolution of the interior design, mainly of the seats, which was succesful. It received paints from a new provider, Glasurit, (instead of Glidden/Glidden Salchi). For the first time all GTBs and GTSs, whichever their destination market, had a full 17-position VIN… But of course it is the injection system that received all the attention, and the criticism were harsh: the loss of power was tangible, as the «european» models’ engine (without catalysator) provided «only» about 210 hp DIN (officially 214) against «about 230 DIN» for the carbed cars; and less than 200 for the american models, fitted with catalysator and heavier due to safety devices. Overall, the performance of the car was affected. And more so for the new design that succeeded the 308GT4, a new «2+2»: fitted with the same injection engine than a 308GTB/GTS, but heavier, the performance of the «Mondial 8» was considered as «not worthy of a car bearing the Ferrari name».

Even the market success of the 308, especially in the USA in its GTS variant, is not enough to allow Ferrari to rest on its laurels. Prestige of the brnd and exclusivity are one given thing, but when the performance of the cars are not at the same level than the best on the market, it is more difficult to justify a price that is somewhat higher than the competition. Clearly, something had to be done. Ferrari didn’t wait for the critics to start to work on the next step: the solution deemd as the most promising was to design new four-valve («Quattrovalvole») per cylinder heads, the work for the design starting as soon as the loss of power due to the switch to injection was attested. After two years of work, a new version of the 308 was introduced to the press in September 1982: the «Quattrovalvole» (308QV) (=four valve) which restored the prestige of the car with performance worth the brand again, thanks to a step in power: the QV V8 gave 240 hp DIN (about 237 when tested). Visually, the car was not very different from its predecessor, save for an aditionnal five rows of air extraction louvres in the front hood; performance and brio are back: the car finds its right place again, the first one, and the market success is still strong. A notable step in production’s quality then happened; firstly in the late autumn of 1983 for the 512, then during january of 1984 for the 308 (without any precise date or specific chassis number for the first car benefiting from it) with the introduction of a rust-proofing technique for the steel body panels, named «Zincrox» and described in some detail in the press presentation brochure for the 288 GTO (ref 306/84). As stated by the factory description, it is «a multi-layered electrogalvanisation» which superposes as protection for the steel a layer of zinc, then a layer of chrome, with a layer of chrome-oxide at its top, this on the «internal» side of the body panels, not painted. (by the way, base coat on external panels is pink for red cars, grey for all other colors).

4- The last evolution into the 328:

Towards the end of 1983, the matter of the 308 succession started to loom; at this time, the 308 was already eight years old, and even if the sales were showing no sign of slowing down, eight years is a long time for a sports car. It seems that the factory was at first inclined towards a new, completly different design, for the 308 succession, to be launched in about two years; there are indeed some project drawings which certainly show that different shapes were worked upon. But once more, the rather modest dimension of Ferrari, its restricted technical and human ressource, and the amount of money needed for a completly new design pushed towards the temporary solution of a new evolution of the basic 308 design.

The high end «Berlinetta», the V-12 (or the so called «Boxer» engine, actually a 180° V-12) engined 515BB was about to end its career, to be replaced by a brand new car, the «Testarossa», which was edging towards its presentation at the «Lido» in 1984. The staff of the company decided that launching a brand new V8 at the same time would be a bit too risky, and chose therefore to update the performance of the 308 to the required level by enlarging the engine’s capacity by 200 cm3, to «modernise» the shape of the car with a softening of the original «wedge» line, and modify its interior. This is how the 328 was born, to sustain for a few more yeras the success of the 308, until the company has the ressource to design a successor from a new generation. We note in passing that this passage from the 308 to the 328 is the first occurrence of the mid-life update for the V8 cars design, which was to happen again with the shift from the 348 to the 355, from the 360 to the 430, and from the 458 to the 458.

One of the most interesting chapter of the 328 development was that the first «development protoype» of the 328 was built with a third body variant, which never reached production stage, but was nevertheless certified and road-registered: after the «Berlinetta» or coupé, then the removable-top open car, the last was a full cabriolet (with a soft top). Chassis #49543, the first 328 on the roads in the summer of 1984, was in that configuration. It was extensively tested up to the spring of 1985; it seems that the engineers and designers were pleased with it, but that the marketing men decided against introducing it on the market, out of fera that it would put the «Mondial Cabriolet» at risk, which was the only version of the «Mondial» with US sales up to the expectations. #49543 is still extant today, registered for road use in Italy. The 328 entrered the markets in the autumn of 1985, after the Frankfurt salon. The car seems visually slightly different from the 308, but this is an optical effect from the new integrated bumpers. With the exception of these bumpers, all body parts (front fenders, hoods, doors, rear clip…) have exactly the same dimensions than those of the 308; of course, some details change such as door latches, the absence of the hot air extraction slots behind the headlight pods… etc. Performance was one step beyond, rather modest, but sufficent to allow the car to remain at the top of her segment. If the update of the seat design and the interior didn’t attract much comment at the time, with the passing of years they do not seem a success, as they lost the «classic vintage» feel of the 308 interior and are now seriously stuck in the eighties. Lastly, the assumed decision of modernising an existing design, rather than invest in the development of a brand new car gave us a car still beautiful to the eye, but built on a technology that was at the time showing its age: even with first-class performance, the construction of a body in steel panels affixed to a «ladder» chassis, and contributing to the overall rigidity was verging on obsolesence; the chassis itself can trace its origins to the one of the «246 Dino», a technology from the begining of the 20th century. Time had come for Ferrari to jump to a modern design, built on up-to-date technologic principles, which meant that the next «Berlinetta» chassis should be a monocoque, a step towards the unknown for Ferrari, one that was not fully succesfull with the 348 in 1989.

The 328 production had only one important design change at the end of february 1988 with chassis #76626: a different suspension, which is actually the one of the «Mondial» (suspension parts are stricty identical for the «Serie 2» 328s and the «Mondial») this for simplifying procurement of parts. This supension has different anchoring points to accept anti-squat and anti-dive, which needed a new certification for the car: the «Serie 1» GTB were certified as «F106 AB/R», the «Serie 2» as «F106AB/PB». Wheelbase is shorter by half an inch, track is wider. The «Serie 2» 328s are visually different by their bulged wheels (offset is different from «Serie 1» cars); these cars could be fitted with ABS, depending on the markets. In Europe ABS was, and remained, only an option; in the USA all MY 1988 with bulged wheels were delivered without it, and all MY 1989 with it. In Australia, all «Serie 2» car were delivered without ABS. Said otherwise: all cars with bulged wheels do not necessarly have ABS… The 328 is interesting when considering its production, as some notable steps were taken. - First, integration towards a common base model, whatever the destination market was, has been better scheduled and was more succesfull than for the 308. In particular, the version for the US market (in Left Hand Drive) and Australian (Right Hand Drive) fitted with the catalysed engine (letter «X» in position 4 of the 17 digit VIN) is closer to the european model than the corresponding 308 variant. The catalysator is better integrated, the weight difference smaller: it is obvious that the integration of the emission control devices was better thought, they do not look like «added as an afterthought» anymore. - Then, the 328 obviously benefited from ten years of regular 308 production; it was more «gentrified» and less brisk than the first 308, but became a very dependable car, and most of the little troubles common to a small serie car were gone for good. This was a versatile car, almost usable daily, that did not get hot in the traffic, and for which maintenance was not excessive.

As the 328 was preparing to bow out in the summer of 1989, as quoted by an issue of Cavallino, many workers at Maranello thought that «she is our true gem». Let’s close this history by reminding every reader that the last production year of the 328, September 1988 to September 1989 is exactly the year that followed Enzo Ferrari’s death (August 1988) and that a sizeable part of the cars produced during this last year were bought with speculation in mind. It is not rare, even today in 2018, to find from time to time a 328 from their last production year for sale without ever having been registered for road use.

All photographs on this page are subject to the copyright restrictions. Many thanks to Pierre Coquet, Martyn Goddard and Marcel Massini for their graceful contributions.

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