In a way, you could say that the new-for-1980 Ferrari 308 GTBi is a very special car. Indeed, it represented a very rare, albeit undesirable, phenomenon as this follow-up to the 308 GTB produced far less power than its predecessor. Ouch. Of course, this was not a rare occurrence back in the 70s and 80s as manufacturers struggled to keep pace with increasingly stringent emissions standards.
Less Pollution, Less Power
Motivating the car was a 2.9-litre aluminium V8 from the Dino line of engines. Originally producing a reasonable 252 bhp in the GTB and GTS models, the addition of a Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection resulted in a 31-bhp drop down to just 211 (or 202 on non-European models). Shared by many other manufacturers of the time, such as Porsche, Bentley, Lotus, and TVR, this mechanical fuel injection system ensured a continuous flow of fuel from all injectors. More importantly, however, it reduced the car’s emissions. 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.
Just Look at it, Though
Luckily, the stunning Pininfarina styling was left intact, even if the specs on the car were somewhat of a disappointment. Even with its new paltry power output, the car’s styling alone was sufficient to justify its existence. Very few stylistic changes made their way onto the GTBi, as this model was really only created to keep the car road-legal. Those updates include a new wheel design, new steering wheel, different upholstery on the seats, and a couple of gauges moved from the instrument cluster to the centre console. And that’s it. As I said, Ferrari kept it simple with this one.
The 308 GTBi would soldier on until Ferrari worked out a way to increase power while keeping emissions under control. That answer came in 1982 with the 308 quattrovalvole, another evolution of the 308 which used a 4-vallve-per-cylinder engine design to bump power up to 240 bhp while maintaining emissions compliance. So, while the 308 GTBi was really just a stopgap measure to keep this model on the road, it managed to do just that, selling nearly 500 examples.