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‘Thirty years on, it remains one of the most beautiful ‘modern’ Ferraris - and potentially one of the most sensible, too..’ Motoring Research Magazine.
Ferrari introduced the original 308 in 1975 and it remained (initially alongside the 308GT4) the legendary marque’s entry level model for about a decade, before being usurped by the 328 (Type F106), a visually very similar feast for the eyes though it sported various small styling updates as well as an extra couple of hundred cubic centimeters of pure Italian V8 (3.2 litres as opposed to 3.0, as the model numbers might suggest).
The 328 model presented a slight softening of the wedge profile of its predecessor, essentially looking a little like a 308 that’s put in a few useful hours down the gym. These looks have come into their own now and whilst the 328 is slightly bigger than the 308, it’s worth noting that it’s still shorter and narrower than a current Ford Focus.
In addition to this, by common consent if you‘re actually after driving your classic Ferrari, the 328 is the one to go for, being considered by many enthusiasts to be one of the most reliable and practical of all classic Ferraris - unlike some models you don’t need to perform a full engine–out mechanical strip down in order to re-attach an errant wire to the alternator.
Pininfarina (who else?) paid particular attention to styling details that influenced the car’s CD and aerodynamic lift characteristics – with impressive results. Cabin ergonomics were improved and the shape of the seats revised to better suit the sporty driving style this type of car deserved. On all versions, low profile (for the day!) tyres and 16″ alloy wheels were available as an option.
A redesigned nose was complemented by similar treatment to the rear valance, both featuring body-colour integral bumpers; the air louvres behind the retractable headlight pods on the 308 series disappeared, coupled with an increase in the size of the front lid radiator exhaust air louvre which had been introduced on the 308 QV, whilst a new style and position of exterior door catch was also provided. The interior trim enjoyed a thorough overhaul with new designs for the seat panel upholstery and stitching, revised door trims and pulls, together with more modern switchgear which complemented the external update.
In the middle of 1988 ABS brakes were made available as an option. This required a redesign of the suspension geometry to provide negative offset and unfortunately resulted in the car feeling slightly less responsive. Fortunately this car dates from 1987, so escaped the ABS – and the slightly less attractive convex alloys that went with it.
The 328 GTS had a tubular chassis with a factory type reference F 106 MS 100. Independent suspension via wishbones, coil springs and hydraulic shock absorbers with front and rear anti roll bars was provided, along with disc brakes all round (as you might expect).
The V8 engine was essentially of the same design as that used in the 308 QV, with an increase in capacity to 3185 cc achieved via a bore and stroke of 83mm x 73.6mm. The engine retained the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system of its predecessor, but was fitted with a Marelli MED 806 A electronic ignition system, to produce a claimed power output of 274 bhp at 7,000 rpm (the red line only intrudes on the needle’s steadily sweeping advance at a heady 7,700 rpm). Peak torque is 224lb ft at 5,500rpm and overall in a car weighing a modest 1,325kg, that’s good for 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds and a top speed of 160mph.
The 328 remained in production for four years, during which time 6068 examples were produced in the chassis number range of 59301 to 83136, the GTS production outnumbering the GTB version by almost five to one. The early part of the series was numbered in the Ferrari odd number road car chassis sequence, and later examples (post chassis number 75000) in the continuous number sequence.
Chassis number 74145 was readied for sale in 1987 and was exported to Japan. Lucky Japan. Whilst resident there it appears to have been much loved and well maintained and some paperwork comes with the car to support this statement. More importantly, all expenditure on the car since it arrived on our shores has been kept safely and having just been gone through with a fine tooth comb by Ferrari specialist QV London, any new owner should feel completely confident that this example isn’t hiding anything nasty.
This really is a lovely car. Super-clean and honest, it starts on the button and runs sweetly, with all the major controls feeling smooth and as they should. The car revs freely and feels very much like it’s itching for the open road, preferably one near the Alps - a location that was cruelly denied to us during our test drive, but we did travel far enough to be able to confirm that mechanically all is well - no smoking, rattling, clonking, graunching, grumbling, ticking or twanging could be detected. The car changes gear with a beautifully smooth action, the clutch is perfectly manageable and nicely adjusted and the brakes felt firm and true. In short, this 328 is so user friendly and utterly unintimidating that we were sorely tempted to ‘miss our turn’ back into the car’s current residence, just to revel in it for a few miles longer.
Optional extras available at the time included air conditioning which this car thankfully has, metallic paint (which it thankfully hasn’t), Pirelli P7s (now Bridgestones), a leather dashboard (now alcantara), leather trim to the removable roof panel and rear window surround (not featured here), and a rear aerofoil (present and correct – this was standard on Japanese market models).
Electrically, everything works as it should - including the often sticky electric windows which operate perfectly. All four alloys are unmarked and shod in the aforementioned Bridgestone Potenzas that look virtually unworn.
The mechanical condition of the car was rubber stamped a few weeks ago when the 328 flew through its MOT with flying colours and no advisories.
Cosmetically there’s absolutely nothing to worry about here either. There are a few touched-in chips and blemishes (all ruthlessly detailed in the photo gallery) as you might expect on a 32 year old car, but nothing that detracts from the very smart overall presentation. Finished in ever popular Rosso Corsa, all the panels are true and free from corrosion and all the shut lines are straight and even. The chromework on this car could be completely restored for about £7.50 - being restricted to the interior release handles for the engine bay and bonnet – and that’s literally it - but it’s in fair condition anyway and all the glasswear and light lenses are free from scratches and clouding.
The interior is very smart indeed, with the passenger seat looking pretty much box fresh (bum fresh?) whilst the driver’s seat is just starting to take on a nice lived in appearance. The carpets look fresh throughout and the dash covering of grey alcantara with orange stitching, whilst not of course original has been completed to a very high standard and will we’re sure appeal to as many prospective buyers as it perhaps troubles.
The trim work was carried out before the current owner took possession, so we have no idea if the original vinyl or leather lurks just behind the alcantara, but finding out and perhaps returning the car to its original spec. will provide a nice ‘to do eventually’ job for the new owner should they so wish.
Could you use this car everyday? Absolutely. The 328 is compact enough to feel nimble around town – and that’s not something you could say about the wide-boy Testarossa, or indeed the majority of 21st century supercars. Ride quality is better than modern machines, too – thanks to absorbent 55-profile tyres – and the 328 has enough luxuries (air-con, electric windows, er… a radio) to be comfortable on longer journeys. It feels like a sports car built for the road, rather than the racetrack.
The current owner is well aware that its early life in Japan (albeit a country where it is quite literally The Law to look after your cars) and the position of its steering wheel may hold its value back for some UK buyers, rest assured that the reserve set on the car takes full account of this.
E460 MPV probably represents the cheapest opportunity to get yourself behind the wheel of any 328 currently available to buy. On top of that, it’s a totally useable, ‘jump in and drive’ example, that wants for absolutely nothing.
A truly lovely Ferrari at a truly mouthwatering price.