Market Place. Spotlight on owning a Ferrari 328 GTS. Buyers guide – what you need to know about owning a top end classic Ferrari 328 GTS. Report by Chris Rees. Photography Michael Ward.
Feature sponsored by Superformance The market has finally recognised the true status of the 328, arguably the most beautiful Ferrari of the 1980s – but it’s not too late to get in on the action. You’ll be rewarded with one of the most appealing Ferraris of all to own.
Just two years ago, you could have bought a decent 328 for £40k. Not any more: prices have more than doubled since then. Despite this, the 328 remains an excellent starting point for Ferrari ownership: it’s still good value and likely to retain its desirability over the long term. After all, this is a V8 mid-engined Ferrari with one of Pininfarina’s best shapes of all time. And it’s probably the easiest classic Ferrari of them all to own, being very reliable if maintained properly.
The 328 succeeded the 308 (1975-1985), and pretty much ironed out most of the weaknesses of the earlier model. It drives better, is easier to live with and doesn’t suffer the rust issues that the 308 has. Yes, it has fuel injection, which isn’t favoured by purists, but it’s still a fabulous thing on just about every level.
Launched in 1985, the 328 used a bored and stroked version of the existing 2926cc V8 engine, taking it up to 3185cc. That resulted in a healthy output of 270bhp, some 15bhp more than the 308. With a redline north of 7000rpm, the 328 could reach a top speed of 153mph and get to 62mph in around 5.6 seconds. Compared to the 308, Pininfarina’s Leonardo Fioravanti gave the new model a more rounded nose and rear panel, deeper bumpers and a new front grille and lights. Inside, the revised door panels, fresh seat upholstery and new switchgear gave it a more modern feel. Factory options included air-conditioning, leather dashboard/headlining and a rear aerofoil, with ABS brakes also optional from 1988.
Two body styles were offered: the GTB (Gran Turismo Berlinetta) coupe, and the GTS (Gran Turismo Spider) with its removal targa top (it stowed behind the seats). The 328 was a definite sales success for Ferrari, with some 7400 built between 1985 and 1989, when it was replaced by the 348. Just 672 examples were RHD. The GTB body style is far rarer than the GTS: only one in five 328s are GTBs, and just 130 right-hand drive GTBs were sold in the UK.
An interesting aside is that, for the Italian market only, Ferrari sold a 2.0-litre turbocharged version with 254bhp. Launched in 1986, only 1136 were built, and while LHD Turbos occasionally surface in the UK, they’re definitely not as sought-after. So what is a 328 like to own, and what should you look for when buying?
ON THE ROAD
The low seating position and long reach to the Momo steering wheel can feel uncomfortable for some drivers, but the view to the back-lit Veglia dials is pretty special, and classically elegant. It’s a surprisingly airy cockpit, with good visibility by mid-engined standards.
The injected 3.2-litre V8 may have less character and soul than earlier carb-fed engines, but it’s strong and torquey and feels genuinely fast, even by modern standards. The handling and roadholding are also better than the 308’s, with excellent grip in both dry and wet conditions, and well-resolved damping that inspires confidence through fast bends. The ride quality is surprisingly comfortable, too.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
Ferrari engine can be things not only of awe but anguish, too. Not so the V8 in the 328: it’s robust and well proven. The oil pressure should be around 85psi on start-up and around 40psi warm at tickover. Check carefully for oil leaks from the cam cover gasket and cam seals.
Regular oil and filter changes are essential. As the engine has Nikasil liners, the quality of the oil must be high – damage to the Nikasil coating requires new liners, which are very expensive. The replacement of timing belts also needs to be timely: Foskers recommends every three years at least, at a cost of around £500 fitted.
The engine management is Bosch K Jetronic, with Marelli ignition. The former is pretty robust, but the latter can cause problems, usually traceable to the coil packs, which are easy to replace. Exhausts do corrode, but replacement isn’t too costly (budget £1000 for a complete stainless steel system) – and there’s no need for a catalytic converter in Europe. Cooling is one area to look at closely – the header tank especially, which can suffer from corrosion.
The gearbox sits below and to the rear of the engine sump. Stiffness in first and second is normal, especially from cold, so don’t worry too much about this – unless the lever actually starts jumping out of gear, which indicates serious wear. The clutch is robust and can last as much as 30,000 miles, but if it’s slipping a replacement will cost around £700.
CHASSIS & BODY
The 328 has a tubular steel chassis (type F106), with independent wishbone suspension, coil springs, hydraulic dampers, anti-roll bars front and rear and disc brakes. The sign of good suspension is a solid-feeling ride without excessive body roll. Check the hubs for worn bearings. The brakes are reliable, including the ATE-made ABS system that you may find on post-1988 cars (these have different-shaped alloy wheels). Brake pads are pretty cheap (£200 for a full set), while a full set of discs and pads costs around £900 to replace. Rust is far less of an issue with the 328 than the 308, thanks to galvanised steel panels for most of the bodywork. Check the inner rear wheelarch areas, which do gather moisture. Doors can pick up damage quite easily, and if the door seals have perished there might be problems lurking inside. There are no rust issues for the bonnet, which is made of aluminium, nor the ABS plastic bumpers. The low sills are easy to scrape, too, so check these carefully.
The GTS’s targa top isn’t prone to leaking, but do check it out; luckily replacement seals are readily available. Also check the windscreen seals, as the surrounds and internal rubbers can become loose. One definite thing to check is any sign of a front-end collision. A box-section frame supports the wings at the front end, and if there’s been a prang it often shows up in creasing in this area.
As for colour, red is by far the most common shade, in which guise the 328 looks fantastic, especially with a Crema or Tan leather interior. However, other colours are just as desirable due to their rarity – black is a very ‘slimming’ colour, for example. Other colours include yellow, silver, white and blue.
The cabin is relatively robust. Expect the normal wear and tear issues with leather trim in an older car, and if worn a retrim will be an expensive business. No radio was ever fitted new on the 328, so if there’s a stereo in there, it’s an aftermarket item. The electrics are pretty good. Do the usual checks on items like the mirrors, central locking, heater fans and warning lights. The electric windows tend to slow with age, which is normally alleviated by cleaning and lubricating the moving parts. If air-con is fitted, check that it works properly; almost all 328s have now been converted to modern R134a refrigerant, which means a re-gas should be possible.
This is one area where you’ll be happy as an owner: general running costs are well below those of most exotics. The fact that the engine can be serviced without having to remove it cuts costs, too. Foskers recommends budgeting £1500 to £2000 a year for maintenance. Parts supplies are excellent for the 328, both through official and independent channels. As a rule, it’s better to buy a really good 328 than buy cheaply and face high restoration costs down the line (the 328 is as expensive as a Dino 246 to restore). Also it’s better to buy a car that has seen at least some use every year rather than one that’s been stored for a long time. As ever, do a history check, and the more documentation you have with the car, the better.
Most 328s are priced in the £70k to £100k bracket, and Foskers recommends spending at least £85k for a good, clean, usable car. Mileage is important, as buyers have a mental barrier against cars approaching 100k miles; anything below 50k miles is ideal. 328s are more valuable than fuel-injected 308s, but comparable to carb-fed 308s. Because of their rarity, GTBs tend to be more sought-after than GTSs.
SAMPLE PRICES 2015 in UK
Ferrari 328 GTB 1987, 82k miles, red £65,875
Ferrari 328 GTS 1986, 30k miles, red £74,990
Ferrari 328 GTS 1989, 36k miles, black £90,000
Ferrari 328 GTS 1988, 21k miles, red £105,000
Ferrari 328 GTS 1989, 14k miles, red £129,995
Many thanks to Ed Callow and Alastair Gill at Ferrari specialist Foskers for their help in the preparation of this buying guide. www.foskers.com
POWER: 270bhp at 7800rpm
TORQUE: 213lb ft at 5500rpm
TRANSMISSION: Five-speed manual
TOP SPEED: 153mph