Alfredo Ferrari died at age twenty four. Today, Nice Price or Crack Pipe offers up a homage to his memory that has survived seven additional years, and with a price that might make it a fitting tribute in your garage.
The inability to muster warp speed drove 67% of you to cast a collective "meh" for Impulse power, granting yesterday's modded Isuzu a Crack Pipe defeat. And that was despite a valiant attempt to load the vote by isuzone.com forum members. Owned by a guy who was really into the brand, that car had been totally de-badged, lending it a clean, albeit anonymous presence. Today's contender, however, is all about the badge.
The Fiat-built Dino 206 and 246 engines were well-respected and competent performers for their size. However, when Ferrari sought to compete in the lucrative, small 2+2 market, that V6 - named after Enzo's beloved son - was deemed insufficient to power the new, larger car. That was remedied by the introduction of a new engine- one that would be built, not by Fiat, but by the socialist northern Italian workers of Ferrari themselves. This 3.0-litre (and 2.0 derivation) DOHC V8 represented a first for the company- a Ferrari-built motor for road-going cars that wasn't a V12.
The car that wrapped around this new all-alloy engine was designed by the styling house of Bertone- not Pininfarina, another first for a street-wending car from the Maranello company. The angular shape is arguably rooted in the ‘70s, and traces of Bertone's Lancia Stratos can be seen in its nose and three-quarter profile. Considered lacking in either the pure beauty, or visceral charisma expected of the brand, the cars presented Ferrari with something else they had never experienced previously, and that was cars languishing on dealer's lots. This is one possible reason that Bertone has never since been commissioned by the factory for another road car.
By the mid-point of its life, dealers were instructed by Maranello to apply Prancing Horse emblems to the car, making this the first non-twelve cylinder production Ferrari for the street to carry that venerable badge. From 1973 until 1980, a little over 2,800 of the GT4 made it out of the factory doors- and, eschewing change for tradition, most of those were red.
Also red is today's 1978 308 GT4, offered for $25,900 on eBay. One of only 276 built that year, this model represents the final iteration of the GT4 with the wider front grill and Ferrari badging. While benefiting from those model changes, it also gains cats which bring the 2,926-cc V8's power down to a less than prancing 205-bhp, a drop of 25 on this U.S.-spec'd car. Despite that, the quartet of Weber 40 DCNF twin-throats, sitting on top of it, still pull with the roar of a thousand lions, and the long, 100.4" wheelbase makes the car's handling even more smooth and secure than its GTB/S sisters. You should be able to see sixty from a standstill in about 8 ticks in this car, and even when at that standstill it benefits from being one of Enzo's living children- a breed apart from all others.
When considering the purchase of any Ferrari, condition and history are of utmost importance- and this car presents itself well. At least until you open the door. A recent respray, in Rosso Chiaro, shines like new, making the cracking, baseball mitt-colored seats all the more glaring, and giving the car an appearance akin to a smokin'-hot lady hobo. Re-covering the four thrones and other rhino-ass looking surfaces in a new coat of dead cow would probably set you back the better part of two- to five-large depending on if you want the right stitching and texture match. Or, for fifteen bucks, you could grab a couple of swap-meet seat covers and just tilt the rear-view above the backs.
Mechanically, the car has undergone the major you-need-tos required of the Ferrari 3.0 eight. Timing belts are an every five year proposition on these cars, and the prolonged storage noted in the ad warrants the replaced tensioner and water pump, as well as the A/C work. By the way, should you live in a hot climate, that A/C has all the cooling power of a new-born puppy's first fart.
So here is a seemingly well-sorted Ferrari for less than the limit on most boomer's credit cards. Yes, it's not the most beautiful machine to ever be graced by the black and yellow badge, but there's no denying its historical relevance and lineage. With the recent service - and assuming you could live with the seats - it shouldn't ask too much more from your wallet over the next year or so. But is it worth that $25,900? Would you plunk down that much for an Italian 911 competitor? Or, does that price make this not the GT4 you?
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