Better Than a Ferrari? 1986 Machiavelli GTS

In the world of replicas, do some cars stand apart? That opinion resides firmly in the eye of the beholder, but this rare 1986 Machiavelli GTS is certainly one of the more finished cars we’ve seen in the world of aftermarket replicas. Plus, it uses actual V8 power to give that sexy body some actual bark as opposed to being all show and no go. The Ferrari 308 replica hails from a period when the popular prancing horse model was a must-have for any up-and-comer, but if you didn’t have the cash or the maintenance budget, Machiavelli was happy to step in with a replacement. This GTS remains in excellent condition and is listed here on eBay with bidding shockingly over $22,000!

Perhaps I’m missing something, but I never thought replicas were desirable enough to drive this kind of money. There are exceptions, of course, like the Beck Porsche 550 Spyder replica and numerous Jaguar XK140 replicas that give you all the looks without the paranoia of driving such a priceless car in traffic. This, however, shatters my expectations, and I’ll tell you why: you can still buy a Ferrari 308 for reasonable money. Yes, prices for everything 80s have been ticking upwards and the maintenance costs are certainly higher, but if I had $22,000 to blow on a replica, you can be damn sure I’d be buying the real thing. Proportionally, you can tell quite clearly from the rear that this isn’t the real deal.

And it gets even clearer inside the car. Now, the visionary behind the Machiavelli brand was convinced this was a far better creation than any kit car could hope to be. After all, it was built on an assembly line, not shipped in a crate to anyone with a toolset. But regardless of whatever efforts went into making the body convincing enough to forget this car began life as a Pontiac Firebird, the interior gives it all right back. There’s no doubt this is an American car inside, and this is where I always struggle with these replicas. Why bother with the swoopy exterior when you’re just going to keep the low-rent GM cabin exactly the way it left the factory, save for a cheap-looking woodgrain steering wheel and gauge cluster surround?

Now, the one place the Machiavelli makes some sense is the drivetrain. It’s still not going to make the same kind of noise as a Ferrari V8, but at least it’s not an air-cooled VW engine. The Firebird’s hidden identity is made more obvious when you look into the engine compartment, and in reality, it compliments the outside appearance quite well. But even with its American V8 heart, the Machiavelli worried Ferrari enough that lawsuits started flying and only a handful were built before production ceased. Perhaps that’s why bidding is so strong, but I’m still amazed there’s more than one guy who wants one of these. Would you pay this much for one?


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  1. 8banger 8banger Member

    Jeff, I’m picking up what you’re putting down here. No way.

    Like 6
  2. Will Fox

    Just what I always wanted; a fake Ferrari 308GTS.

    Like 6
    • douglas hunt

      and it’s not even a mid engine car…..super fail

  3. Claudio

    I would take the 22k and buy a mint firebird , just can’t get into these fake cars but i try to live and let live …but sometimes a monkey is pulled out of the hat and i must comment , so the mercedes small block pos takes the honnors !

    Like 4
  4. Fred

    IIRC these did not come with faux Ferrari badging on them – and you could buy them at Pontiac dealers. They even got Philip Michael-Thomas to shill for them.

    Like 4
  5. Doyler

    This feels like the stunt car they’d blow up instead of the real Ferrari. From 100 meters.

    Like 3
  6. angliagt angliagt Member

    You too can be Magnum – for a lot less.

    Like 5
    • SubGothius

      That may explain the bidding — someone wants to show up with this at RADwood dressed as an obviously fake second-rate Thomas Magnum impersonator.

      Like 1
    • Steveo

      Maybe not exactly a Magnum…more of a Special. A caliber below.

      Like 2
  7. Wheelman Member

    Fred, in Jean Lindamood’s article, I think Phillip Michael Thomas’s comment was “we are wing-footed gods”, which I suppose was true if you count the wings on a Firebird. Interestingly, in 1984, the 308 4V and Firebird H.O. both ran 0-60 in 6.7 and 15 seconds. (per The Ferarri is more aesthetically pleasing and the Machivelli… well, it has better ground clearance.

    Because I’m sentimental, I’m glad to see that one of these survived, but I’m not sure that I’m elated.

    This car is the latest reminder of what a great site BarnFinds is. Thanks, guys!

    Like 8
  8. Mark Member

    I would need to drive it before deciding. Not a fan of kit car clones but this is the most interesting one I have ever seen. Seems like they should have badged as a Machiavelli GTS and forget the Ferrari clone. How many Machiavelli’s do you see at a cars and coffee?

    Like 2
  9. Howie Mueler

    Not that bad, that steering wheel has to go.

    Like 1
  10. Peter R

    Jeff – you say if you had $22k you would buy the real thing. Please tell me where you can get one for anything close to that price. The last one I saw sold for about $80k at auction. Then your heading “Better than a Ferrari?” – you are just kidding right? Dumb headline – you are better than that.

    Like 2
  11. Craigo

    Driving this would be like wearing a fake Rolex but even more obvious.

    Like 2
  12. Gerard Frederick

    A lot of negativity here. I disagree, thinking this replicar is a beauty. To add to the attractiveness, it´s doubtlessly a million times as reliable to drive and to own then the orginal. I have never understood the obsession with original Ferraris. The only person I personally knew who drove one sold it after 8 months and bought a BMW 525 convertible, which he owned foir another 5 years. Like Top Gear said in a progran — the Ferrari is marvelous. The only problem is when you park one there is always a piece that goes with you — and they showed the driver´s door handle in the hand of the driver. It would be nice to know how many of those who extoll the virtues of Ferraris have actually owned one, I fear very few, if any.

    Like 5
    • Chris Martin

      There’s no 525 convertible. Maybe you meant 325 convertible?

      Like 1
  13. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    Sold for 30K I’m guessing due to being 1 of 12 produced and overall condition.

    Like 4
  14. SebastianX1/9

    “Magum, if you persist in your tardiness and insolent behavior, Robin will be forced to revoke Ferrari privileges, which means you’ll have to drive the Machiavelli.”

    “Okay, ok Higgins; I’ll make sure to be on time and all smiles.”

    Like 5
  15. Dave Peterson

    I was fortunate enough to have had a 365 for a brief time in late 1979. A real Ferrari. I look at these gated shifter cars that Il Commendatore produced as evidence of his advancing age. How the factory that produced that wonderful 12 cylinder beast also figured 180 some cubic inches of V8 could possibly produce any excitement is baffling. Be honest here – would you rather have a 308 at $50K or a 240Z at $25K, or even an XKE at $100K? Were it not for the massive mystique that Ferrari and Porsche have they would be recognized as what both are – overhyped, overpriced cars for poseurs and dilettantes. To me, Corvette has a more genuine owner group. I guess I’d better get my meds now…..

    Like 3
  16. douglas hunt

    i luv Ferraris, especially the boxer, always wanted the Corson Boxer kit, until i realized the interior was god awful, and well it was fiero powered, lol.
    these days the only kit cars i like or would own are the speedsters, the cobras, not many on my list, but that’s just me……

    Like 1
  17. Dallas

    > if I had $22,000 to blow on a replica, you can be damn sure I’d be buying the real thing.

    Yes please; sign me up for one of those $22k 308s. You won’t find one for triple that price nowadays.

  18. Howie Mueler

    This says Sold? But it has been relisted.

  19. t-bone BOB

    Ended: Sep 17, 2021 , 12:23PM
    Winning bid:US $30,700.00
    [ 58 bids ]

    Located in:Pineville, Louisiana,

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