Abandoned Italian: Dino 308 GT4

While it was regarded by many as a Ferrari when it was unveiled in November of 1973, the Dino 308 GT4 did not actually begin to wear the famous Prancing Horse badge until May of 1976. In fact, looking over one of the early production versions will reveal few references to the famous firm from Maranello, apart from the Ferrari castings on the engine’s cam covers. Regardless of whether or not it was considered to be a Ferrari, finding an example that has been neglected to the point that this one has is a bitter pill to swallow. Barn Finder George G referred this once-proud Italian classic to us, so thank you so much for that George. The Dino is located in Houston, Texas, and is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN price of £8,000 for the car, but the option is there to make an offer.

When you find a classic car, regardless of the make or model, that has been abandoned like this one, you really have to wonder what the story is behind it. We’ve all seen plenty of classics left to fend for themselves, but when you consider that a Dino was not a cheap car when new ($22,500 in 1975), you have to wonder what has happened. This one is in a pretty advanced state of decay, and it isn’t clear how long it has been sitting in its current location. The owner is pretty forthright and says that the car is probably only good for either parts or as a major restoration project. The broken windshield certainly won’t have done the car any favors, so I would expect there to be some pretty significant rust issues that would need to be addressed if ever the car was to see the road again. The space-frame chassis and the steel sub-frame on which the engine and transaxle are mounted are both very prone to these sorts of issues, and this environment doesn’t auger well for either.  It appears that even some of the more prized smaller items such as the badges have been removed from the car over time. It’s also interesting to note that the Dino doesn’t appear to be wearing its original wheels. The ones fitted to the car would seem to be 3-piece Compomotive Wheels, and even these would not have been a cheap investment when they were new.

Looking inside the Dino is enough to make even a grown man weep. The lack of a windshield has left that beautiful, hand-crafted interior exposed to the elements. The seat upholstery and padding, both in the front and the rear, has deteriorated beyond help. With the dash and gauges bearing the brunt of the rain, you can be certain that there simply won’t be a single electrical component that will have survived. Surprisingly, it appears that the wonderful leather-bound wheel is still present, and while the leather and padding have probably deteriorated quite badly, it would still be able to be restored. The shifter and the fantastic chrome shifter gate are both still present, and as I said, while it appears that the majority of the gauges seem to be present, I doubt that the long-term exposure to moisture will have done them any real good.

There are no photos of the engine, and this is for one very good reason: There isn’t one. As with so much of this car, even though it didn’t wear an external Ferrari badge, what was hidden below the surface was all Ferrari. That means that the beautifully hand-built, all-aluminum alloy, 2,927cc transverse V8 engine has gone. This engine, fed by a bank of four Weber 40 DCNF carburetors, would produce 240hp in US trim. This power was then sent to the rear wheels via a 5-speed manual transaxle. It isn’t clear whether the transaxle is still present, but I guess that since it doesn’t rate a mention as being removed, we can always hope for the best. However, given how tightly packaged and integrated the engine and transaxle in a 308 GT4 are, I wouldn’t be holding my breath that it is still there. Beyond that, there are probably very few mechanical components that could potentially be salvaged from the Dino.

As major restoration packages go, if someone took this car on, it would potentially be about as major as a project can get. The honest truth is that given the relative value, or lack of value, of the Dino 308 GT4 in the marketplace, there is no real way that restoring this car would be financially viable. Today, a good example will fetch around the $60,000 mark, but it isn’t uncommon for them to sell for half that price…or less. If, and it is a big word, but if you can find a replacement engine for the Dino, you’ll get no change out of $10,000, and that is an engine that will almost certainly require a rebuild. At best, this Dino 308 GT4 should be viewed as a parts car, and even that has to have a big question mark hanging over it. What it definitely is now is a pretty sad and sorry sight.

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Comments

  1. bobhess Member

    I seem to remember the car magazines talking about reliability problems with these cars. Introducing the car in the middle of the gas crisis didn’t do it any good either. Still not sure why folks dump cars in the woods and let them rot. If you don’t want it get rid of it…

    13
    • ken tilly

      That’s what he did bobhess, he dumped it in the wood as it was most likely the easiest way for him to be rid of it.

      13
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Good point, bobhess. Saw a lot of “someone stole my gas hog and stripped it then set it on fire at a remote location” crime reports and insurance claims back then.
      What an ignoble ending to a very nice machine.

      15
  2. Superdessucke

    Clean it up, replace the windshield, replace all the rubber, lines and gaskets to make road worthy, have a pest control company come out and exterminate the interior, and drive it as-is. I bet you’d get more stares than you would in a brand new screaming yellow 488 Pista!

    9
    • Steve R

      That will be hard to do since the engine is gone. At best, this is an overpriced parts car.

      Steve R

      19
      • Superdessucke

        So what? Stick in an Iron Duke or any engine in there which will fit and get this abomination moving under its own power. Would be hilarious at a Ferrari meet up!

        7
      • Steve R

        Why bother. It’s not worth the hassle to annoy a bunch of random strangers.

        Steve R

        12
      • Superdessucke

        Have you ever met a group of Ferrari owners? Trust me, this would be worth it!

        12
    • Poppapork

      How do you drive as is without an engine?

      If i could get it for a grand i would replace the windshield, see if i can possibly mate a domestic engine to the 5speed ZF. If not then convert it to electric with single tesla motor mated to the trans/clutch. Gut the interior snd do a race car interior- put a race seat in there and
      Enjoy

      6
      • Superdessucke

        I bet with some ingenuity, a big hammer, a blowtorch and a bit of elbow grease you could get an Iron Duke to fit in there.

        4
      • Ralph

        Why do you keep pushing the Iron Duke?

        Get a supercharged 3800 with transaxle from a GTP Grand Prix and try to make that fit.

        7
      • Superdessucke

        I don’t know. The Iron Duke just seems like a perfect engine for this trainwreck.

        I do, however, like your spunk. You could really hurt yourself with that setup!

        4
      • DavidL

        SBC and rat rod it! Replace whatever is rusted w/ leftover project pieces and body parts, paint it a rust patina w/ clearcoat and fake muffler and annoy the s**t out of everyone; rat rod haters, italian/Ferrari car enthusiasts, me if I were your neighbor …

        4
      • Brakeservo

        My last Ferrari was a 308GT4 and it was as reliable as any other Italian car – interpret that as you wish.

        2
    • John

      “ Drive it as-is”. With what, pedals?

      2
  3. CJinSD

    Ferrari people discard parts for cosmetic reasons that are nicer than the best surviving piece of this poor car. The person listing it will be lucky if they can negotiate free removal and disposal.

    24
  4. Dan

    £8,000 is roughly $9,600 US. With a little searching, I found a nice Dino 308 GT4 advertised at about $60,000. Short of being able to score parts at fire-sale prices and do all the work yourself, I see no way to properly restore this car for $50,000. A shame that fate dealt it such a rotten hand.

    11
  5. Coventrycat

    Just let the thing die. If it was a Pinto in the same condition it wouldn’t get a second glance.

    7
    • bruce baker

      @ Coventrycat. A running/driving Ford Pinto has gotta be a rare horse/car now days? I remember Pinto’s at every intersection.
      This car looks much worst off than that valuable forest green 246 GTS Dino that was 6 feet under in L.A… Check it out on Autobiography ” The Dirty Dino” on Motor Trend.

      2
  6. Kelly

    Having worked on a few of these in the 90’s, they weren’t worth saving at that time. Scrap price is about it. Maybe someone would want the carbs.

    3
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      You’re right, Kelly, and about the carbs too. Apparently someone wanted the carbs, ignition,and everything that goes with it – Adam wrote that the engine is GONE.

      8
  7. Adam Wright

    I drove one last weekend, a lot of fun!

    5
  8. Steve Gravelle

    “It’s NOT a Ferrari!”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuCff8nCxBU

    1
  9. Gaspumpchas

    If anyone is really interested in this heap, consider what will happen when you go to move it. Like the guys were saying, whoever owned this grabbed the mill and a few other pieces and putter out to pasture. Shame to see a car like this in such poor condition. Good luck with this 9600 $ parts car.
    Cheers
    GPC

    6
  10. Tom

    augur… Although it looks like an auger would make short work of this car.

    3
  11. Santa Fe Steve

    I just had a look a 308 GT4 in Arizona for $35K and price was negotiable. There is no way in Hell this car is worth $9,600. Engines are probably around $20K, interior always cost more than anticipated. Have not even considered the rust factor.

    5
  12. rpol35 Staff

    Another “Woods Find”; I don’t get it.

    2
  13. Ward William

    If the body is not too rotten, it may be a candidate to convert to electric, that is if you can find a totaled Dino for the interior etc.

    2
  14. Speedo

    Set the body on a Fiero, replace the badges and have fun!

    7
  15. misterlou

    BarnFinds Challenge: buy the ’66 Wagoneer Super to tow the Ferrari home.

    4
  16. 433jeff

    I say dont restore it Properly, nor could I afford too. Make it a mongrel, and dont look back

    3
  17. Ian C

    Just give me the sad looking piece of scrap metal. I have access to a rolled over 4X4 just looking for a new body!!

    Either that… or cut the roof off, and turn it into a planter (preferably cactus and/or black-berry bushes) in the front yard for passers-by to admire.

    5
  18. bobhess Member

    Hadn’t thought about the yard art possibilities…

    4
  19. TimM

    What a shame to see a car like this sitting in the woods to rot!!!

    1
    • bruce baker

      But it WAS a “Prancing Horse”, it’s out to a overgrown pasture, he, he. $ 9,600 “holy crap”. Ha, ha.

  20. mtshootist1

    if any of you are familiar with Houston area, its more like swamp, with gators, the brush is thick, I spent a couple of months down there working for FEMA after Hurricane Ike. I bet that car has been there for multiple hurricanes, Good Luck, I would put it out at the shooting range load it with Tannerite, and blow it to hell. Bet I could make several grand inviting guys for a machine gun shoot, with the ad , BLOW UP A FERRARI !!

    6
    • Chevychase Member

      Only vehicles found in the woods should be 4 wheel drive, wear meaty tires, and shouldnt shine at all. Hmmmm….in the right hands, this can be one exotic mudder.

      3
  21. Dallas

    In the words of Trevor Noah, “get the fck outta here man!”

    2
  22. Joris

    Add rope or chain for your Riva boat anchor…

  23. Paul STATHAM

    This could be salvaged, seems a bit of a waste and a shame to let it rot

    1
  24. t-bone Bob

    what a shame. Truly sad

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