A highly-strung V8 engine paired with a proper manual gearbox is mounted in the middle of a certain tube-frame chassis, with a gloriously-proportioned and swooping wedge-shaped body laid over it all. First penned by designer Leonardo Fioravanti at Carrozzeria Pininfarina for production in the mid-1970s, the Ferrari 308 is a byproduct of unrestrained design and, thus, a car the likes of which we’ll never see again.
Pedestrian safety, fuel economy, aerodynamics, computer-aided design, outright performance, and other modern-era constraints make sure of that. It’s a shame, too, because even parked calmly on the side of the road the 308 is a car that has presence. Nothing else quite looks like it, and I’m fairly convinced that no other car can deliver a driving experience to match, either.
The closer you look, the better it gets.
The worn leather interior, the Momo steering wheel, the period Pioneer tape deck, and that glorious gated shifter for the dogleg 5-speed. This particular example, as many others are, is one full of uncompromisingly cool analog details that add up to a whole far greater than the sum of its parts. It’s now a relic of the past, a time capsule to a simpler time, and there’s no replacing that.
From other details like the curved glass in the rear window to the overall angular aesthetic paired with the swooping contours of the primitively aerodynamic bodywork that culminates in two large side vents that slice through the doors, it’s a sight to behold at any angle.
It’s not necessarily a fast car by today’s standards, and in the ’80s some charm was lost when the coveted Weber quad-carburetor setup was ditched for a Bosch K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection system that resulted in a loss of power. Later, the quattrovalvole made up for some of that lost performance, but it came at the cost of further complexity.
Judging by the style of the leather seats in the cabin, this one of the good ones, though – a carbureted 2.9-liter Tipo F106 capable of screaming itself up to around 8,000rpm with the Webers wide open. All-in-all, a car in a class of its own, aging nicely and surely soon appreciating.
Which begs the question: If you’re in the position to buy a house, should you just buy one of these instead?
Trevor Yale Ryan