Ferrari 328 GTS and 328 GTB: Like a Mightier 308

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Classic Motorsports.]

Story by David S. Wallens • Photograph Courtesy Ferrari

Thanks to Hawaii’s favorite mustache-wearing detective, the Ferrari 308 gets a lot of attention. It’s an iconic shape with a great backstory. Prices are a little off their highs, but this one’s days as a budget buy are still behind it. The 308 is now viewed for what it is: the Ferrari that introduced the Prancing Horse to the masses.

But let’s take a realistic look at things: Those small wheels and tall tires look a little dinky by modern standards, and most 308 variants aren’t really that quick. Yes, the 308 has long been praised for its excellent handling and brakes, but the 9-plus seconds it takes the original 308 to reach 60 mph isn’t exactly stellar by today’s yardstick. (The latest Honda Accord can reach 60 in less than 6 seconds, but admittedly isn’t nearly as cool for cruising the islands.)

If you want those classic 308 looks but with a bit more performance, why not check out the follow-up model, the 1986–’89 Ferrari 328? Yes, “Magnum, P.I.” purists will note that it’s not exactly the same model, but your neighbors won’t notice the difference and you’ll get to enjoy some extra oomph.

The 328 simply offers more motor than the outgoing 308. The 308 Quattrovalvole, the final model to wear the 308 badge, produced 230 horsepower from its 3.0-liter V8. A bump to 3.2 liters plus an increased compression ratio and more aggressive camshafts pushed the 328 to 260 horsepower, a heady figure for the time.

Road tests from the day show a 6.0-second zero-to-60 sprint. That’s no longer supercar fast, but you’re not going to get outdragged by a late-model minivan or family sedan.

The 328 might have been based on a decade-old design, but a few tweaks gave it a fresh face–after all, the basics have proved to be timeless. Body-colored bumpers, with lights nicely integrated up front, were contemporary for the time. Sixteen-inch wheels also looked right for the day.

Like that 308, the 328 also came in two flavors: the closed-top 328 GTB and the Hawaii-ready 328 GTS. “Collectors prefer the 1989 models,” says David Alexander, Ferrari Sales at Continental AutoSports. “The 328 GTB is desirable as there are a very few.” His other advice? “Avoid modified cars.”

Shopping Advice

Continental AutoSports has been an authorized Ferrari dealer since 1975, and our tips come from Scott Wallace, their Ferrari technical services manager.

There is not one particular year to stay away from with a 328. The 328 was one of the most reliable models Ferrari ever built–if maintained properly. The biggest abuse would be a lack of maintenance: You always want to buy a car with solid service history. If someone spent the money on the maintenance, they would have the paperwork to back it up.

When looking at a 328, check for leaks at the cam covers, cam seals and shift shaft seals. A few drips on the oil pan nuts are normal and should not be alarming.

One of the first things I look at on a used Ferrari is the tires. If the car has a cheap brand of tires on it, the odds are that corners were cut elsewhere, too.

All years of 328s are mechanically very similar. There were minor tweaks made to interior switch gear/door handles through the years, but the biggest mechanical change came with the introduction of anti-lock brakes in late 1988. So you need to decide if you want ABS or not.

Annual maintenance of a 328 is to change the oil and brake fluid. If the car is driven more than 5000 miles per year, then the gearbox lube should be done every two years. The timing belt service should occur every five years regardless of miles, and the valve adjustment schedule is every 15,000 miles.

The 328 electrics can occasionally have issues. Check the fuse terminals for any signs of arcing or getting warm. Also, the climate control switches can be temperamental. A row of lights shows what position the switches are in, and the lights can burn out over time, requiring replacement of the switch at a very high cost.

The 328 is a rock-solid car if maintained properly. I would have no worries driving one from coast to coast.

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Coupefan Reader
5/4/20 1:35 p.m.

Just about anything these days can outrun a sports car from the 70s or early 80s in a straight line, and it doesn't require much skill with self-shifting transmissions.  Now when those curves come up, then we can go dancing properly. 

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