Ferrari’s family of highly successful V8-engined road cars began with the 308 GT4 in 1973. Badged until 1976 as a Dino, the 308 replaced its famous predecessor, the Ferrari Dino 246. This Maranello factory’s first mid-engined 2+2 was the work of Bertone rather than the customary Pininfarina for design. By placing the front seats further forward, Bertone made room within the 100″ wheelbase for two children or one sideways-seated adult in the rear, while the compact engine/transaxle package left space behind the engine. The engine featured aluminum alloy block and heads, 16-valves and dual overhead camshafts and the induction system used four Weber carburetors. The engine sits relatively high because it’s mounted on top of the transaxle, whose case actually forms the V8’s sump. In 1976 Ferrari replaced the Dino badges on the hood, wheels, rear panel and the steering wheel with the brand’s prancing horse badges.
The 1976 Ferrari 308 GT4 was quite impressive with its remarkably flexible engine. Unlike other powerful vehicles of the era, the 308 GT4 had no low-speed harshness and at speed the road irregularities were beautifully smoothed out. Inside, controls are mostly close at hand, but the radio was mounted sideways in the center console, ahead of the shifter, which made it difficult to reach for the driver and passenger, particularly since the 1976 Ferrari 308 GT4’s seat belts did not have inertia reels. Many examples were modified, sometimes lightly to improve practicality, sometimes more heavily, touching the design. But original models can still be found and some people dedicate their time to restoring classic Ferraris to their original out of factory condition.
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