The Ferrari 308 was the model that helped cement Ferrari’s status as the world’s premier sports carmaker, but back at home the 208 GTB Turbo was needed to bolster sales. You see, in Italy, an extra 20% tax was levied on any car with an engine larger than 2 litres. By keeping the engine capped at that displacement, the original 208 GTB offered a much more affordable option for the Italians (and New Zealanders as well). The power was severely lacking, however, so 2 years later, in 1982, the 208 GTB Turbo debuted, promising to fix the ills of the original model.
While the original 208 GTB’s tiny 2.0-litre V8 only managed to produce 153 horsepower, the GTB turbo addressed that power deficiency in a big way. The addition of a turbocharger and Marelli electronic ignition meant the 208 now produced a much more appropriate 217 bhp. 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.
The 208 retained the alluring Bertone-styled body that made the original so popular. From the outside, the 208 GTB Turbo looked nearly identical to the 308 Quattrovalvole, which isn’t a bad thing. A keen eye is required to spot the differences from the front and sides: a NACA duct that sits in front of the rear wheel is the main feature to look for. From the rear, there is a “turbo” badge that makes the job a little easier. Like all of the 208s and 308s before it, the 208 GTB Turbo was an extremely attractive model whose styling was the basis for the famous 288 GTO.
The turbocharger transformed the car from a 150-bhp weakling into an acceptably fast model bearing the prancing horse badge. Up until 1985, 437 of the Italian 208 GTB Turbos were built, with a GTS model selling slightly more than half that amount. The 328 GTB took over where the 208/308 models left off in 1986.