The Dino 308 GT4 is certainly like no other Ferrari. The new car marked several “firsts” for Maranello, although initially it only carried the Dino name. It was the first production road car with a V8 engine, and the first mid-engine 4-seater although in reality it was a 2+2. Moreover, it was styled by Bertone, not Pininfarina, for the first time since 1953.
But there was a reason for this. It was designed by Marcello Gandini who, working for the Turin body shop, created many of the most popular sports cars of the era, for several marques. His masterpieces were typically sharp and slender shaped, very futuristic and with strong personalities. Ferrari was impressed by this approach to sports car design, and decided to use the Dino logo to diversify. Bertone also designed the Fiat Dino coupé, while Pininfarina designed the Spider. The car was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show and just carried the Dino badge, as was then customary for Maranello cars not equipped with a V12 engine. The 308 GT4 completed the range, which already included the 246 GT and GTS, until they went out of production. The digits in the name referred to the engine’s cubic capacity and to the number of cylinders, in this case three litres and eight respectively, while the four signified that it was a four-seater. The car had two rear seats even though it was only 4.3 metres long. Compact with a powerful heart, it used the available space cleverly. It hosted a 2996 cc and 255 hp V8 engine at 90°, centrally mounted in front of the rear axle and with a top speed of 250 km/h. The Dino also had rear-wheel drive and a 5-speed gearbox. It was produced between 1974 and 1978. Although up to 15 years ago it was a relatively affordable historical car, now it has been rediscovered it has suddenly doubled (and in some cases, tripled) in price.
The Dino name was retained until the end of 1976; subsequently the model adopted the Ferrari marque because it appealed more to customers, especially in the US. For a time it was the only model that US dealers could offer customers, because the others were not approved for that market. Being the only car that could be imported into the United States, a market that Enzo Ferrari had particularly coveted for years, the name Dino remained on the tail of the vehicles already in America, which were rebranded as Ferraris.
After that, the Prancing Horse emblem was all that was used. Elvis Presley’s 1975 black Dino 308 GT 4 is still famous to this day. The Dino 308 GT4 had a luggage compartment and an emergency spare wheel, a solution that was later taken up by all manufacturers. In the following years, the 208 GT4 with 2.0 litre engine arrived. Its introduction was in response to the oil crisis of that period and Italy’s then high rates of taxation.