At the Paris Motor Show dated 1973, Ferrari presented the Ferrari Dino 308 GT4, a V8 that was born from Bertone’s pencil and not from that of Pininfarina. The Turin-based designer managed to produce a welcome 2 + 2 with a central engine on a car body of just over 4 meters and 30 cm: a really good result.
The name “Dino” was maintained until the end of 1976, after which the model was given the Ferrari brand because it was more appreciated by most of the customers. The Dino 308 GT4 completed the Dino range, already known for the famous two seats 246 GT and GTS.
Like the two sister cars, the model did not carry the Ferrari brand, pursuing the idea of making the name “Dino” a full-fledged brand. The 308 GT4 models were given chassis numbers with the even numbering characteristic of the Dino.
The production period lasted seven years, until 1980, when the car was replaced by the Mondial 8 model.
As for the Dino 246, the abbreviation numbers referred to the total engine displacement and the number of cylinders, in this case three liters and eight cylinders, while the “four” concerned the number of available seats. The new car was mainly characterized by two new features: it was the first 2 + 2 mid-engine model and the first series road car with a V8 engine. In 1975, an exclusive model was launched for the Italian market only: the 208 GT4, equipped with a two-liter V8 engine to escape the tax burden on cars with higher displacement.
The denomination “Dino” remained until the end of 1976; later the model was branded with the Ferrari logo, which was clearly preferred by customers.
Despite Ferrari’s long collaboration with Pininfarina, the design of the new model was not born from a design conceived by the coachbuilder of Grugliasco, but from a study by Bertone; the FIAT Dino coupè project also came from Bertone’s pen, and according to what the latter said, the design of the Dino 308 GT4 was entrusted to him thanks to a boost from FIAT. When the 246 GT and 246 GTS went out of production in 1974, the Dino 308 GT4 became the only model left in the Dino range. It was also the only model on the US market, as the 365 GT4BB and 365 GT4 2 + 2 have not been approved for the latter.
In fact, the only Ferrari destined for the American market did not even have the Cavallino brand. moreover, the emission control equipment helped to make the engines less performing, further aggravating the situation: put together, in fact, these elements generated many difficulties in the sales of the model, and in mid-1975 Ferrari decided to issue a directive addressed to American dealers: they would have to replace the brands to the existing stock, while the new production cars would have brought the Ferrari brand, keeping the Dino name only for the writing on the rear hood; thanks to this standard, the US models with the deepest radiator grille can still be found today with different brands and a different bumper design. During the production period, a total of 2826 specimens of 308 GT4 were made.
Bertone did an excellent job, taking into account the strict specifications received, and managed to design a 2 + 2 with a central engine on a chassis of only 2550mm, 210mm more than that used for the two-seater Dino 246 GT
The 308 GT4 had a tubular chassis with internal reference number F 106 AL 100. All four wheels were equipped with disc brakes, independent suspension with swing arms, coil springs, hydraulic shock absorbers and anti-roll bars front and rear. The car body, recognizable by its rather angled shape, presented pleasant design details, such as the boomerang-shaped air intakes on the rear uprights that delimited the windows, or the tunnel effect of the internal panels that held the rear window, flat and vertical. The left side air intake conveyed the flows to the oil cooler, while the right side air intake led the air to the appropriate carburetor filter. The general line was very tense and well balanced, showing excellent solidity with the passage of time, unlike some of its competitors of that period.
Despite the mid-engine configuration, the use of the rear seats presented less difficulties than those of the 365 GTC4: it should however be noted that the legroom was rather limited, and only by moving the front seats forward the surface available to passengers it increased comfortably. They were therefore pleasant seats for those who boarded, but they could also provide much more space for loaded luggage. Being able to design a mid-powered car with adequate space for passenger luggage has never been easy, on the contrary, it has often proved problematic to solve. The 308 GT4 was equipped with a separate luggage compartment of regular shape placed behind the engine, as on the Dino 246, and as on the latter, also the trunk of the 308 GT4 was affected by the heat of the exhaust silencers, placed under it, despite had an insulating floor. Another space for luggage was located under the front hood, where it was possible to store soft bags, especially if instead of the classic spare wheel, the wheel was chosen.
The V8 engine had a 90 degree configuration, with double overhead camshafts per bank driven by a belt. The total displacement was 2926cc with bore and stroke equal to 81mm X 71mm, the internal reference number was F 106 AL 000. The bore and stroke values were the same as the 365 series V12 engines, always produced at that time .
The engine intended for the Italian market had an almost identical construction, but at the same time had some differences: its engine capacity, for example, was equal to 1991cc. The bore was the same while the stroke was shorter: 66.8mm. The internal reference number was F 106 C 000. The engine was mounted transversely, combined with the five-speed synchronized gearbox block, located under and behind the wet sump of the drive unit, following the philosophy already adopted on the Dino 206 GT and 246 GT. There was a battery of four Weber 40 DCNF double body carburettors, mounted in the center of the “V” formed by the cylinders. The exact specifications varied according to the markets in which the model was sold and the number of ignition distributors installed.
The first specimens of the initial series of cars designated for European countries, all vehicles for the USA and those for the Australian market had double ignition distributors driven by the left end of the camshaft dedicated to the intake valves. Subsequently, the models for Europe of the second series had a single ignition distributor always driven by the camshaft: the distributor had been redesigned and an electronic ignition system was installed from the beginning of 1978.
The declared power of the prototype varied from market to market: the first cars designed for the European market could count on a power of 255 horsepower, while the machines sold in the United States, equipped with a catalytic converter, had a maximum power of 205 hp. The two-liter version reserved for the Italian market had a declared power of 180 hp.