We all know and love the Ferrari 308, but many of you might not be familiar with its little brother, the 208 GTB. The 308 was the car that helped cement Ferrari’s status as the world’s premier exotic car manufacturer; the one that Tom Selleck drove in Magnum P.I. Filling a significantly less glamorous role, the 208 GTB mainly served to prop up sales in the Italian market, where an extra 20% tax was levied on cars with engines over 2.0 litres. In Ferrari parlance, GTB signifies a coupe body style, while the 208 GTS wears a Targa top roof that could be stored behind the seats after removal.
The main difference between the 308 and the 208 is the engine, of course. Whereas the 308 received a 2.9-litre aluminium V8 from the Dino family of engines, the 208 was powered by a tiny little 2-litre V8, essentially just a de-bored version of the 308’s engine. A 100-bhp penalty compared to the original 308 resulted (or 58 bhp compared to the 1980 GTBi, which used stricter emissions controls), causing a significant reduction in performance. Some even went as far as naming the 208 the slowest Ferrari. Ever. Well, nevertheless, the 208 retained the alluring Bertone-styled body that made the original so popular. A gated, dogleg 5-speed manual translates that power to the wheels, while a double-wishbone independent suspension incorporated anti-roll bars on both axles to keep the car stable while cornering.
Spanning just two model years, 1980 and 1981, the 208 GTB exists in very small numbers indeed. Only 140 were produced in Italy and New Zealand. This is in stark contrast to the relatively high number of 308s Ferrari was able to sell between 1975 and 1985. Even with a lack of power, many drivers today appreciate the 208 for its gloriously smooth power delivery and the novelty of such a low-displacement V8 engine.
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