Although the reduction in displacement caused a similar cut in performance, the small but sophisticated V8 engine could still propel the car to over 220 km/h. The Dino 208 GT4 was the smaller engine capacity sister to the Dino 308 GT4 which had been introduced at the 1973 Paris Salon, as a 2+2 model to compliment the two seat 246 GT/GTS models in the Dino range.
As with the 308 GT4 models they were given chassis numbers in the particular Dino even number series, which they maintained even when being produced alongside the 246 GT/GTS replacement, the 308 GTB/GTS series, which had chassis numbers in the standard Ferrari road car odd number sequence. The Dino 208 GT4 went into production in 1975 and was produced through to 1980, during which time 840 examples were produced in the chassis number range 08830 to 15596.
The model was produced specifically for the Italian market and had a mid-mounted 2 litre V8 engine as opposed to the 3 litre unit of the 308 GT4. The raison d’etre of this being to fall below the Italian government’s 2 litre tax threshold, which was punitive on engine capacities above this level. As this was a specific market model, all were produced in left hand drive configuration. As with other models in the Dino series, the numbers in the model title referred to the engine total cubic capacity, and number of cylinders, in this case two litres and eight cylinders, with the figure 4 relating to the number of seats.
The V8 engine was of 90 degree configuration, with belt driven twin overhead camshafts per bank, having a total capacity of 1991cc, with a bore and stroke of 81mm x 66.8mm, bearing factory type reference F 106 C 000.
The engine was transversely mounted in unit with the all synchromesh five speed transmission assembly, which was below, and to the rear of the engine’s wet sump. It was fitted with a bank of four twin choke Weber carburettors, producing a claimed 180bhp in 2 litre form.
The body was very similar to that of its 308 GT4 sister, a pronounced wedge shape from the pen of Bertone, which was very much in vogue with manufacturers of the period.
Apart from the model badge on the boot lid, the easiest ways to distinguish a 208 GT4 from a 308 GT4, is the single exhaust pipe, instead of the latter’s quadruple arrangement, and the plain aluminium finish to the louvres on the front lid and engine cover for the 208 GT4, instead of satin black on the 308 GT4.
Bertone did a very good design job within very tight dimensional boundaries, to produce a mid-engine 2+2 model on a 2550mm wheelbase, which was only 210mm more than that of the 2 seat Dino 246GT. The Dino 208 GT4 had a tubular steel chassis with a factory type reference F 106 CL 100, and a steel body with aluminium front lid and engine cover.
Disc brakes, with independent suspension via wishbones, coil springs, and hydraulic shock absorbers, were provided all round, with front and rear anti roll bars. Within the angular body shape there were some very nice design details, like the boomerang shaped air intakes on the sail panels that bordered the rear quarter glass, and the tunnel effect of the inner sail panels to the flat vertical rear screen.
The left side intake ducted cooling air to the oil radiator, and the right side one ducted air to the carburettor air filter. The overall shape was very tight and well balanced, and has stood the test of time very well, certainly better than some of its contemporaries.
Despite the mid engine configuration, the rear seats were useable, although legroom was limited unless the front seats were well forward. Adequate useable luggage space has frequently been a problem in mid engine cars, but the 208 GT4 had a separate sensibly shaped boot to the rear of the engine, with its own lid. Additional luggage space was available under the front lid for soft items, particularly if a space saver spare wheel was used in place of the standard one.