Dusty Prancing Horse: 1979 Ferrari 308 GTS

The Ferrari 308 is certainly one of the more iconic supercars to emerge from the 1980s, and while Magnum P.I. has lost much of its relevance among modern day television viewers, the sultry 308 is coming back to life in the eyes of younger enthusiasts. Long considered an “affordable” Ferrari by modern standards, the 308 is the car many teenaged enthusiasts had taped to their wall or ceiling, sometimes with a bikini-clad model strewn across the hood. Now, here’s a chance to own the real-deal in what appears to be a dusty garage find with next to no information in the listing. Find this forgotten 1979 Ferrari 308 GTS here on craigslist for $45,000.

All the seller mentions in the listing is that the 1979 model is the last year of the “…four dual Weber carburetors”, which certainly is a desirable feature if you’re not a fan of fuel injection. Aside from that, all we have to go is the photos, which show that the 308 still wears a dealer tag inserted into a plate frame where a license plate would otherwise go. With 80,000 miles on the clock, there’s virtually no chance this was a forgotten piece of inventory in a California car dealership, but that plate insert usually comes from being part of a dealer’s inventory. Given the dust that’s collected, it hasn’t moved in some time – so when, and why, did it get parked?

The interior certainly looks better than the mileage would suggest, as the black leather seats show no signs of regular use. The cockpit looks to be in stock, factory condition, with the iconic three-spoke steering wheel and gated shifter in place. Red on black is perhaps the most typical of Ferrari color combinations, but why change up a good thing? The dash doesn’t appear to be cracked, so hopefully it’s been stored indoors for most of its life – though the mileage would suggest it spent plenty of time on the open road at one point it its past. The Ferrari crests on the fenders are both quite vibrant, another sign it was never abandoned outside a specialist shop in the valley.

The targa roof panel looks to be in good shape with no signs of delamination or other atmospheric damage. The classic five-point wheels retain their Ferrari center caps, and body lines look nice and straight going down the sides of the car. Of course, as important as the cosmetics may be, it’s all about the mechanical health when it comes to a car like this, and interested buyers should seek a full run-down of the 308’s maintenance history – hopefully, despite being short on verbiage in the listing, the seller has a thick history file at hand for a car like this. The 308 GTS is the one to buy if your garage needs a little Miami Vice in its life, so give the seller a call and report back on the backstory if you’ve been hunting for one.


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  1. Big_Fun Member

    I always think of the many seasons of Magnum, P. I. when I see one of these…and an Audi 4000, and the 1980 GMC Jimmy. And they always used this one plain Jane Fairmont .
    In fact, it’s on right now…

    Like 12
    • CJinSD

      I think Higgins drove an Audi 5000.

      Like 8
    • Stan Marks

      I drove the Magnum P.I. 308 GTS, when I worked at Universal Studios.

      Like 20
  2. Moparman Member

    Based upon the intensive maintenance and care these cars required when being driven, I can’t begin to imagine the cost of resurrecting this one back to operating status! Looks to be a good buy, though, if you’ve got the dough! GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 12
    • Rich

      This is a tough one. A friend offered to sell me one of his 3 Ferraris (308) a few years ago for 20K. #30 K miles, excellent shape, all maintenance up to date. But when I learned that a distributer cap cost $800 bucks, (two distributers) had to pass. A beauty of a car, a lot of fun to drive, but not that powerful. My Toyota with a 6 cyl. could outrun it to 75mph…so it seems this dealer may be asking an a bit too much based on the limited information provided. These are very easy to work on, and maintain, but the various parts cost is obscene. BTW the car I passed on recently sold for 80K, but in near perfect condition. So once again begs this question: Is a rare car worth a huge premium, strictly cause of rarity, or are people letting their greed, and inner weasel just run free? Greed is not a good thing my friends, just my two cents worth. A buyer really needs to dig deep into this cars situation before committing big money just to own something rare. Thanks and best of luck to the next owner.

      Like 16
      • ccrvtt

        I agree wholeheartedly that greed is not a good thing, for anybody. But I take issue with you when you compare a Toyota to a Ferrari. Life seldom gives us the choice between the two but I for one would ALWAYS take the Ferrari over the Toyota.

        Like 7
      • Rich

        Owning a driving many Toyotas for 45 years is what has allowed me to save the money to be able to afford a Ferrari. Thankful for my friend’s collection as I can drop by and run any of them without the pain and expense of dealing with having to underwrite the absurd cost of ownership.
        But there is nothing like the sound of that sweet 8 or 12 cylinder being wound out…almost worth the price of admission, but can’t let my mind really go there. Still want to be able to afford food, should we live that long. Best to everyone!

        Like 6
      • David Cantwell

        Rich, I had a 1980 308 just like this one but tan interior. Hard to shift at 6’6′ & 325 pounds. LOL. Your right, VERY costly to operate not just the super-premium gas that you had to add 105 octane to it. The tires, tune-ups, oil changes, etc. Just the basic maintenance was expensive. Everybody back then wanted to race from the stoplight. Darn near everyone could get me off the line to about 60-75mph, then I would zip and I mean zip by them. Highway ride is where it does best. (80+mph) One New Years eve Iwas out in the beast and had too much party time…. Damn thing it could take a 90 degree turn at 50-60mph.. I got home without them ever finding me. Very lucky. The price of $5K seems high to me for the shape it looks in. Remember, just replacing gaskets could cost $5000. Bottom like Rich, I 100% agree with you. Not a working mans ride…

        Like 5
  3. alphasud Member

    The asking price seems strong to me based on mileage and work required to get this back on the road. At the minimum an engine out service with timing belts, clutch, and new syncro’s? For a high mileage transaxle. Back in the days when this car was new people used to brag about the amount of work these needed to be kept up. Still a good entry into the Ferrari club which is one of the best clubs to belong.

    Like 7
  4. Steve Clinton

    I don’t know about anyone else, but in my book, $45,000.00 is far from affordable!

    Like 10
    • CJinSD

      Which means that the cost of getting it back on the road will be downright exorbitant. These are beautiful cars, but nobody was thinking about long term ownership when they were designed and built.

      Like 7
    • Jerry Member

      Its affordable since most Ferraris cost hundreds of thousands of $$$$

      Like 2
  5. jeffro

    I’d buy it, however, anytime I drive it the theme to Magnum PI better be playing!

    Like 5
    • Stan Marks

      Be sure to wear your Detroit Tiger baseball cap & remember to raise your eyebrows, before you take off.

      Like 4
  6. Ike Onick

    Craigslist? Enzo is spinning faster than this car ever will again.

    Like 6
    • DC Copeland

      Oh, that was good. Thanks for the laugh– and so very true.

      Like 5
    • Andrew S Mace Member

      @Ike Onick: Really; who advertises a Ferrari on Craigslist? Kinda like putting up one of those “tear off the phone number at the bottom” flyers at your local supermarket for your Bugatti Royale…. ;)

      Like 5
      • Howie Mueler

        Oh great you saw my ad. Was it at Ralphs?

        Like 3
      • Gordo

        I count approximately 50 Ferraris for sale on craigslist in the Bay Area

        Like 2
  7. wifewontlikeit

    I THINK I OWNED THIS CAR! I was a part-owner with my girlfriend (who became my 1st wife) and her business partner, a Real Estate Broker. We sold it to Ferrari of Los Gatos (No longer in business).

    It is the same model as the Ferrari that flipped and killed Dennis Barnhardt (also of Los Gatos) the day his company, Eagle Computer went public! From the NYT:

    “The young president of a successful new computer company died Wednesday afternoon in a car crash in California’s “Silicon Valley”, only hours after his company had sold its stock to the public for the first time and he had become a multimillionaire. Dennis R. Barnhart, 40 years old, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Computer Inc., was on his way home to his wife and three children with a companion, Sheldon R. Caughey, also 40. It is not clear who was driving, but Mr. Barnhart’s red Ferrari veered out of control a block from company headquarters in Los Gatos. The car flew through the air, tore through 20 feet of guard rail, and crashed into a ravine.”

    “A spokesman for Eagle said Mr. Caughey was riding with Mr. Barnhart because he was considering buying either the Ferrari or Mr. Barnhart’s other car, a Porsche. Word of the accident, which occurred at 4:30 in the afternoon, shattered the jubilant mood in Eagle’s crisp, modern headquarters on University Avenue and throughout the area’s sprawling computer plants. The concentration of such companies in the area has won it the nickname “Silicon Valley”, a reference to the silicon chips used in computers.”

    “2.75 million shares were offered Wednesday on the over-the-counter market at $13 each. They were snapped up within hours, rising in value to $17 and closing at $15.50. The company would have raised $37 million by issuing the stock, and the value of Mr. Barnhart’s 592,000 shares on the market would have been $9 million. Trading in the stock was halted yesterday after news of the crash. With the withdrawal of the stock offering, the company will not realize any money from Wednesday’s sales. Initial public offerings are occasionally rescinded because of poor market conditions, but Eagle’s move is unusual in that it was a popular offering that was withdrawn because of a crisis within the company.”

    “Describing the accident, Frank Blaisdell, spokesman for the Los Gatos Fire District, said the Ferrari ”had to be flying.” He said witnesses reported that the car had been traveling at high speed.”

    A version of this article appears in The New York Times on June 10, 1983, Section A, Page 1 of the National edition with the headline: CORPORATE TRIUMPH, THEN DEATH IN A FERRARI. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

    Like 11
    • Steve Clinton

      Could it have been ‘car’ma?

      Like 4
    • Ike Onick

      You need to tie up the loose ends. What makes you think you owned this car? More importantly, how does the car go from wreckage in a ravine to what looks here like a car that was not launched into said ravine.?? What did I miss in your story??

      Like 3
      • John

        He said it was the same model as the one that was wrecked, not the same car.

        Like 5
      • Ike Onick

        Right you are John- That is why I am not a detective, just a run-of-the-mill BF troll. Ya got me!

        Like 3
    • Gordo

      The original owner of Ferrari of Los Gatos is still around Los Gatos altough the dealership is long gone.

      • Ike Onick

        Ferrari was the Official City Vehicle of Los Gatos in the 1980’s. Kidding.

        Like 2
      • wifewontlikeit

        He would be able to identify this car. Do you know him, Gordo?

      • Gordo

        wifewontlikeit, Not for many years but I could go try to run him down, I used to live areound the corner from Brian, he might still remember me and maybe even the 308.

  8. jokacz

    These cars were dogs, attractive dogs, but dogs none the less. Even the Euro-spec non-emission controlled versions weren’t much faster.

    Like 4
  9. Mark Member

    My favorite Ferrari. I have considered buying one (I drove one in Hawaii for a day) but the maintenance costs are just too high. This one is overpriced as a quick search of BAT have decent ones going for 60K. This one would probably take that or a good chuck to get it right.

    Like 3
  10. terra nova

    No Ferrari is more expensive than a cheap Ferrari.

    Like 11
    • Richardd Adams

      Ok ok do not jump all over my limited Ferrari knowledge but,
      How much is involved in throwing out the expensive Ferrari bits and fitting Ford bits ?
      After all, some of the more knowledgeable of us build replica GT40s in the home garage?

      Like 2
  11. Mark

    These turtles are nice looking but way over priced junk….I would rather have any detroit muscle.

    Like 2
  12. TMC914SIX

    This is NOT any kind of a “Supercar”. Sports car yes. Tiny V8, but surprisingly heavy. The 478 Horsepower F-40, is definitely a Supercar.

    Like 2
  13. Gordo

    Just saying:
    According to ProfessCars™ estimation this Ferrari is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 sec, from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.5 sec, from 0 to 160 km/h (100 mph) in 15.1 sec, from 0 to 200 km/h (124 mph) in 27.8 sec and the quarter mile drag time is 14.5 sec.

    Road & Track Magazine test drove a 1979 Corvette equipped with an L82 engine and recorded a 0-60 time of just 6.6 seconds, a standing quarter-mile time of 15.3 seconds at 95 mph, and a top speed of 127 mph.

    Like 2
  14. t-bone bob

    Car is located in Santa Rosa, CA

  15. Robert May

    80,000 miles and sitting for years can mean a LOT of parts will need attention. Although 80,000 miles on a Ferrari without proper maintenance along the way isn’t easy to do. Brakes, suspension, steering, fuel system, engine, etc. all require regular, expensive maintenance and reaching high mileage might mean it has been cared for until it was parked.

    Like 3
  16. George M.

    Who says Magnum PI is irrelevant today? Look what you have to compare to. Way more relevant to me than say, “Housewives of Bakersfield”. Maybe not as good as Gunsmoke.

    Like 3
  17. Rich

    Just skip the short shorts though. We can do without THAT memory!

    Like 3
  18. Marco

    Wow- all of a sudden everyone’s a Ferrari expert.

    Like 3
  19. Tim Remesal

    My Car , Love all the comments . It’s an honest car . 5 to 10K to sort it to good driver status .

    Like 4
  20. Jon

    Almost bought one from Ferrari of Lake Forest (IL) in 1978 … yellow with black interior … the last of the ’77 models he had and was willing to discount it $3000 – price was $30k … I was driving a ’77 Vette at the time … just sitting in it was a pleasure … the salesman offeredd to pull it out for a test drive … I said no because if I did I would have found a way to buy it … my then-wife was in real estate so ended up with a ’78 Lincoln Mark V Givenchy series car, which I got when we divorced … looking back, I would still have that 308 …

    Like 3
  21. ChingaTrailer

    I had a 308, the earlier carburated GT4. Just starting it in the morning, the sound was if awakening a snarling beast (a phenomenon missing from the fuel injected cars) but as has been said, everyone wants to drag race you but even hot 4 cylinder hatchbacks were quicker. I drove mine every day to work except when I drove my Bentley or Rolls. Yes, I created a lot of attention as a poorly paid insurance claims adjuster.

  22. Dallas

    Never seen a red on black 308 before. The ones I’ve seen are always Rosso Corsa / Crema, the most popular combo. Mileage at 80k miles is practically unheard of for a Ferrari.

  23. ChingaTrailer

    When I lived in Portland, there was a man with nearly 250,000 miles on his 308. All it required was regular maintenance which included cam belts and water pumps.

    • Dallas

      At OEM service intervals that’s 16 cam belt changes!

      Like 1
      • Dave Mazz

        One Ferrari site I visited claimed replacing the cam belt/belts on a 308 would cost around $3,000, so those 16 changes would eventually add up to a nice chunk of change!! The 6-cylinder Toyota mentioned above is lookin’ a lot better! :-) :-)

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