Everything sounds better in Italian, doesn’t it? It’s interesting to note that some of Fiat’s most popular models have had names that translate in English to words like Type, Style and One. And look at Maserati’s hooligan-spec limo – Quattroporte sounds impossibly glamorous, doesn’t it? And yet it simply translates as ‘four-door’. One name that sounds more glamorous than most is Gran Turismo Berlinetta, and it’s those initials you find emblazoned upon the rump of the menacingly black Ferrari you see here. The name literally means ‘grand touring’, while ‘berlinetta’ actually denotes a small saloon (a berlina being a regular saloon) – but Ferrari popularised the name on sports coupes from the 1950s onwards, in doing so continuing the noble Italian tradition of applying mundane names to interesting machines. And, of course, there’s absolutely nothing mundane about the 328 GTB. This is the model that built on the stellar success of the 308, a car that proved so successful it ran for a full decade, and reimagined the formula for a more modern audience. The styling was revised, the interior was redesigned, and the engine was upgraded to a full-fat F105CB 3.2-litre unit. This imbued the GTB with a handy 270bhp, allowing a 0-60mph sprint in 5.5-seconds and running on beyond 160mph at the top end. This Berlinetta is rakish, stylish, beautifully designed, and capable of the sort of performance that still has the power to thrill in 2021. And that’s a package that sounds good in any language.
Translation is an interesting theme with this particular car; the eagle-eyed will have spotted that the steering wheel is on the left, and this is because it was originally supplied to its first owner in Germany in 1988. It remained in that country for the first ten years of its life before coming over to England – the documentation shows it being first registered with the DVLA on March 31st 1998. Supplied new by Ferrari dealer Auto Becker, its first owner kept it for a number of years before trading it in at the specialist Auto Neuser, and it’s from them that its first British owner bought it and imported it. (You can still see the Auto Neuser branding on the tail.) A supremely low-mileage example, it took third-in-class at the Ferrari Owners Club concours in 2000 (when it had 33,000km on the clock), and since then it’s been maintained fastidiously at specialists. And while it has been used as a Ferrari should, the number on the tacho has remained low – just 64,655km have passed under the wheels in its thirty-three years.
There’s a huge file of paperwork with this car, with the service book positively brimming with stamps. Combing through the invoices and receipts, we can see that it received regular services at Auto Neuser in 1988, ’91, ’95 and ’98, and in the UK it’s had all the right servicing at specialists including Terry Keys Motorsport, Shaun Power and Autofficina; it’s had a total of seven cambelt services, and it’s obvious that it’s always been maintained regardless of cost. Every service bill is meticulously itemised in the extensive history file, and there’s also documentation from Auto Neuser when the car was imported from Germany in 1998 as well as TÜV certificates, all the old UK MOTs, and a certificate for the Clifford alarm and immobiliser.
The original owner specced this car well. The interior not only features leather trim, but the optional full leather package including door panels, dashboard and roof lining. It’s all in superb condition with no signs of shrinkage, cracking or perishing, and the seats themselves have weathered the years masterfully – they’re still beautifully supportive, and the hide is in lovely condition with just the gentle patina of ages. The carpets are also in great condition, as are all of the interior plastics and switchgear. The open-gate shifter is such a classic element of the Ferrari experience, and it gleams magnificently here with the mirror-polished gearknob teetering above. The car was optioned from new with air-conditioning and a CD player – the former is working as it should, and the latter has since been replaced by a slightly more modern Sony unit. The car was fitted with an alarm and immobiliser in Cardiff when it was imported in ’98, and this is still functioning correctly. The gauges are all working, and every correct trim piece is in place. Inside the front boot we find the original space-saver spare wheel, and in the small rearmost boot’s zipped compartment is the Ferrari toolkit – and, as the photos demonstrate, there’s also room for two crash helmets in there!
Anyone who thinks all Ferraris should be red clearly hasn’t spent much time in the company of a metallic black one. Resplendent in Nero Metallic 901, the sublime paintwork on this car glimmers with a kaleidoscope of subtle twinkles in the sunlight, before morphing into a menacing and moody noir when the clouds draw in. It really does complement the 328’s classic lines beautifully. This car was specced from new with the optional rear spoiler, which is a very cool item that gives the profile a frisson of GTO chic. The body panels are all straight and solid (black is an unforgiving colour, but there’s nothing to forgive here) and hang true with even shutlines. All of the correct trim and badges are present, and the light lenses are in good order; the pop-ups work correctly, and still house European-spec lamp units. The wheels are all in fantastic condition; there’s a little surface corrosion to a few of the wheel nuts but that’s a very easily remedied thing, and the wheels all wear quality Pirelli P-Zero tyres with good tread. The car appears solid and honest underneath, with no evidence of structural corrosion or accident damage. And up top – well, it just looks stunning, doesn’t it?
The car’s always been very well looked after, the massive history file proves that. And this attention to detail is born out by the way the 328 drives: it fires on the first turn of the key with no drama or histrionics, it settles into the trademark busy idle that these cars require when cold and gradually calms itself as the fluids get some heat into them – once warm, it pulls impressively through the gears with all the verve and effervescence you’d hope for. The transmission is in great order with no graunching from the gearbox; the steering feels tight and precise, the brakes are firm and even, and the suspension provides the correct blend of agility and comfort with no troubling noises. Being a 1988 car, this model benefits from ABS and revised suspension geometry as well as the stylish concave wheels. A dream to drive, with everything doing what it’s meant to do.
This really is a very lovely car, and we particularly love a car that’s got a few tales to tell. Having spent the first decade of its life in Germany, the evidence is still there if you know where to look – not just in the steering wheel being on the left, but with the Euro lamps and the name of the German specialist subtly affixed to the rump. The bulk of its life, however, has been spent in the UK and it’s always been fabulously looked after in no-expense-spared style by all the right people. If you’ve always fancied a usable and well-specced 328 (and let’s face it, who among us hasn’t?), this one makes a very strong case for itself: low-mileage, but not so low that you’d feel guilty about using it; superb history with no skeletons in the closet; excellent spec… and, crucially, it’s not red. Black Ferraris always have a feel of connoisseurship about them, and this car stands head-and-shoulders above its contemporaries by virtue of its history, equipment and originality. And, of course, it’s got some stories to tell. It’d be fun to jump in and write some new chapters with it, wouldn’t it?
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