Modern Classic

The 328 offers an enticing combination of timeless looks, an old-school driving experience and robust reliability.

February 20, 2014
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OVER ITS DECADE-LONG PRODUCTION RUN, the Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS became the company’s most-prolific model ever. Replacing such a beloved car wouldn’t be easy, so Ferrari chose evolution over revolution when it designed the 328.

Introduced at the 1985 Frankfurt Auto Show, the 328 looked like what it was: an updated, face-lifted 308, once again offered as a Berlinetta or a targa-top Spider. Integrated, color-coded bumpers, a new front fascia, hot-air vents in the hood and redesigned five-spoke wheels helped distinguish the new car from its predecessor. The 328 also featured a more contemporary cabin, with redesigned seats, dash and door panels.

Under the skin, the 328 utilized a slightly modified 308 chassis and Ferrari’s usual four-wheel independent suspension and disc brakes. More significant were the changes made to the car’s V8 engine, which now produced 260 horsepower in U.S. trim (a gain of 30 hp over the 308 QV), thanks to a displacement increase to 3.2 liters from 3.0, reworked heads and cams and a new electronic ignition system.

The automotive press was impressed. Road & Track, for example, reported that the “328 powerplant rewards with its enormous flexibility. This is an engine that will motor sedately around town, making soothing rumbling noises, or will wind itself up to redline with that exciting Ferrari snarl that has echoed around every major race circuit in the world.” The story continued, “On any sort of road, smooth or bumpy, this is a car that will lope through high-speed bends effortlessly” and “Certainly most drivers will rarely approach [the car’s] limits on the road, but will instead delight in the supple ride characteristics and the precise cornering ability.”

R&T did question the gearbox’s reluctance to shift into second when cold, the awkward angle of the steering wheel, the confusing HVAC system and the “devilishly well hidden” interior door releases, but concluded that “the 328 is a fine example of evolutionary improvement and a wonderful driving machine.”

That was the original 328. In March 1988, starting with s/n 76626, the model received a suspension make-over; these are sometimes called Series 2 or 1988.5 cars. The front suspension was changed to incorporate anti-drive geometry, while the steering setup was altered to allow for the addition of anti-lock brakes. At this time, ABS was optional and not available in the U.S., but in 1989 ABS became standard equipment in the U.S. The biggest visual change was to the wheels, which featured a convex face instead of the earlier concave look.

Today, the 328 occupies an unusual position in the V8 hierarchy, costing more than both its 308 predecessor and its 348 replacement. The reason for the car’s continuing popularity is clear: It offers good looks, an involving driving experience, real refinement and impressive reliability. For these reasons, the 328 is easy to recommend. If you’re looking for a two-seat Ferrari in its price range, the 328 more than warrants a test drive.

 

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