|Transmission||5 speed manual|
|Engine||3185cc 90° V8 transversely mounted|
|Power||270hp at 7000rpm|
|Torque||304Nm at 5500rpm|
|Tyres||205/55 front, 225/50 rear|
|Top Speed||263km/h / 163mph|
For anyone born after 1990, or if you have no idea who Tom Selleck is, the following will mean nothing. For those, on the other hand, who are fully aware of the moustachio’d 80’s heartthrob, and distinctly remember lusting after the beautiful red Ferrari he drove in Magnum PI, this is not that car. That was the 308 Quattrovalvole. The 328, which we have here, is the evolution of that car and to my eyes, is a more elegant, less brutish design contributing to a more timeless aesthetic.
Why is it called the 328? Ferrari often uses the same nomenclature: the 32 signifies the cc, 3200 divided by 100, whilst the 8 refers to the number of cylinders.
I have no problem in admitting this was the first ‘classic’ Ferrari I ever had the pleasure of driving and, I can honestly say, it did not disappoint. The bodywork is most certainly of an 80’s persuasion; indeed the combination of a targa top and the elongated channels in the doors, funnelling air into the engine vents, scream its era. But the nose is gloriously boned, with the wheel arches over the front axle flared deliciously to accent its curves. The rear third of the car is less sensual but no less elegant, the bodywork flowing towards a neatly incorporated spoiler.
Jumping in the Ferrari 328 for the first time was an eye-opening experience. The interior simultaneously dated yet timeless. And familiar. Having grown up in the 80’s, I distinctly recalled this kind of look and it felt homely too. The sight of the delightful speedometer and rev counter, coupled with the switches that, at the time, no doubt would have felt futuristic told me I was in a sports car that had a singular purpose. Remember, when this car was built, a radio was not even an option. This one has a radio however; added retrospectively by its owner.
We are used to flares of revs on start up from supercars these days. The 328 however splutters a little until it catches, dumping a plume of smoke on anything even remotely near its quad tipped exhaust. Settling into an idle, the gases expelled become clear and the noise lets you know it means business.
Moving off, I was instantly struck by just how easy the car was to drive at anything other than the slowest speeds. Remember this car has no power steering, ABS (the later versions of the 328 did) or traction control. Initially the steering is heavy but once you are moving, it’s light, direct and feelsome. It might only have 270hp but this is a light car and so picks up speed nicely. It won’t keep you pinned to your seat, but cars of this era were not about outright speed; they were about character and this example brims with it.
Then came the pièce de résistance; the manual transmission. Even engaging neutral to start the car was a pleasurable experience; hearing, for the first time, the satisfying metallic chink as I moved the gear stick.
I expected changing gears to take some time to get used to. My brain kept whispering to me ‘what happens if I get a shift wrong? Am I going to break it?!’ But it’s actually extremely easy to intuitively guide the delightfully milled gear knob into the correct gate. And it sounds utterly beguiling when you do.
You hear all sorts of stories of old Ferraris being brittle and unreliable. I can honestly say however that even at considerable speed, this car felt solid as a rock, planted to the tarmac and confidence inspiring.
As with most Ferraris this is an engine you need to work hard to get the most out of. Whilst there is not a crescendo as such on its way to peak power at 7000rpm, the exhaust note is aggressive, guttural and loud enough to remind you you are in a serious sportscar. Purists will say the hard-top Ferrari is always the one to go for because its body flexes less, delivering the purer driving experience. That may be true but, frankly, if it means hearing more of that 8-cylinder mounted right behind you, I’m sold.
A word of warning though; insulation in those days was not what it is now so, unless you enjoy the smell of 99 Octane coming from the engine, I would suggest you plan breaks into your day trips to let the cabin air… Otherwise you may end up seeing more than just the whites of your passenger’s eyes when you drop a gear and overtake a fellow motorist!
The 328 GTS is perfect example of what Ferrari production cars used to be; beautiful, characterful and singular in their purpose. A wonderful car to own.
Of all classic Ferrari’s this is probably one of the least expensive to run and also the most reliable, with maintenance experts estimating around £1,500 – £2,000 a year. It’s relatively (for a beautiful classic Ferrari) inexpensive to purchase too: a low mileage example with good bodywork is around £70-90,000. And as with many cars of this type, they are appreciating slowly.