This is a 1976 Ferrari 308 GTB “Vetroresina,” the relatively rare early fiberglass-bodied version of the 308 GTB that weighed in at 331 lbs less than its later steel-bodied successors. Just 712 of these were made and today they’re much sought after.
Someone once said that everything sounds cooler in Italian and there’s plenty of evidence that they’re right – “vetroresina” is Italian for “fiberglass” and there’s no denying it makes the material sound vastly more refined.
Fast Facts – The Ferrari 308 GTB “Vetroresina”
- The Ferrari 308 GTB was introduced in 1975 and sold until 1985 when it was replaced with the somewhat similar Ferrari 328. The 308 came in both GTB (hardtop coupe) and GTS (targa top convertible) variants, and it’s notable as the first production Ferrari to have a fiberglass body.
- The first 712 examples of the Ferrari 308 GTB had fiberglass bodies manufactured by Italian coachbuilder Scaglietti. These were of course immune to rust, but they were also 330 lbs lighter than the later all-steel bodies that were used.
- The 308 GTB/GTS shared much the same tubular steel chassis as the 308 GT4 from the same period, and both had inherited much from the earlier Ferrari Dino – a key competitor for the Porsche 911.
- The car you see here is a member of the “Lost & Found Collection,” it’s one of the 20 historic Ferraris discovered in a barn which had collapsed during Hurricane Charley – damaging some of the cars in the process. They’re all now being offered for sale by RM Sotheby’s in mid-August.
The Ferrari 308 GTB
The Ferrari 308 GTB was introduced to the world at the 1975 Paris Motor Show, the new model was intended as a direct replacement for the Ferrari Dino 246 alongside the new Dino GT4 – with which the 308 GTB shared a similar chassis and engine.
Ferrari’s halo model during this period was the Ferrari 512 BB and later the Ferrari 288 GTO. The 308 GTB wasn’t meant to compete with these cars, but to compete with less expensive sports cars like the Porsche 911, the Maserati Merak, and the Lamborghini Urraco.
The underpinnings of the 308 GTB included a tubular steel chassis, independent front and rear suspension, and a mid-mounted 2.9 liter V8 fitted transversely which sends power to the rear wheels via a 5-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential. Brakes are ventilated discs front and back, and the car became known for its scalpel-sharp handling.
The First (And Last) Fiberglass Ferrari
The body of the car was penned by the team at Pininfarina with the construction taken care of by Italian coachbuilder Scaglietti. Unusually for Ferrari the decision was made that, at first at least, the 308 GTB would have a body made not from steel or aluminum but from fiberglass – called “vetroresina” in Italian.
This would be the first time that any production Ferrari would be made with a fiberglass body and also the last, though some cars produced since have included some fiberglass panels for weight reduction. The entire body of the 308 GTB was made from the material with the exception of the front lid, which was made from aluminum alloy.
Given the fact that the body wasn’t load-bearing the use of fiberglass made a lot of sense. The material can’t rust and it’s much lighter than steel – it’s also much easier to work with. The key downside was likely that even in the mid-1970s fiberglass had already developed a reputation as being the material of choice for kit car and replica vehicle builders.
In their official history of the model Ferrari doesn’t state why it was decided to switch from fiberglass to steel for the body of the 308 GTB in 1976/1977. Just 712 examples of the Vetroresina were made (though some say as many as 808) and today they remain sought after for their lower curb weight of just 1,090 kgs (2,403 lbs) – 331 lbs less than the steel-bodied version that would follow.
The Arrival Of The GTS + Magnum, P.I.
1977 saw the introduction of the Ferrari 308 GTS at the Frankfurt Motor Show that year, this was the targa-topped version of the car aimed squarely at competing with the Porsche 911 Targa, and to a lesser extent with the 911 convertible.
The 308 GTS would be immortalized by the television series Magnum, P.I. in which Tom Selleck, playing Thomas Magnum, drove one around Hawaii for eight seasons with the license plate “ROBIN 1.”
Above Video: These are the original opening credits to the television series Magnum, P.I. starring Tom Selleck and a bright red Ferrari 308 GTS.
The 308 GTB/GTS would be replaced by the similar 328 GTB/GTS in 1985 which would remain on sale until the end of the 1980s. Today this model series is popular with enthusiasts as it’s seen as a truly analogue driving experience with no electronic assistance whatsoever.
The 1976 Ferrari 308 GTB “Vetroresina” Shown Here
The cat you see here is one of the original Vetroresinas and it perhaps has a slightly more interesting story than most. It was driven sparingly before it ended up in what would become known as the “Lost & Found Collection,” a group of 20 Ferraris that had been stored away in a barn which was destroyed by Hurricane Charley.
You can still see some of the damage caused to this car now, as it remains in original as-discovered condition. Importantly the car retains its numbers-matching engine and gearbox, and it has just 9,587 miles on the odometer. It’s now very much a project car that will need a full restoration before any driving is attempted, though there is chance that it’ll be bought by a collector who wants to keep it in its current condition.
If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here on RM Sotheby’s. It’s due to roll across the auction block in mid-August with no reserve.
Images: Darin Schnabel ©2023 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
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