When buying a Ferrari, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re not just buying a Ferrari: you’re taking responsibility for the perpetuation of generations of impossibly passionate enthusiasts, and the product of one of the world’s most revered brands – not just in the motoring sphere, but anywhere. We all grew up coveting these iconic cars, we all had the posters on our walls, we all craned in just a little bit closer to hear the howl of a flat-plane-cranked vee-engine on the TV shows of yore. These aren’t just functional machines, they’re a vital thread in the fabric of automotive culture.
For many an enthusiast, it’s the mid-engined V8 models that represent the real sweet-spot of the legacy. A continuous line can be drawn across the generations, starting with the rakish 308 in 1975, to its 328 replacement in 1985, and onward through the 348, F355, 360, F430, 458, 488, right up to today’s F8 Tributo.
What the 328 represents, in essence, is proof that a good idea will always endure. The 308 had proven itself to be such a fundamentally excellent package that it remained in production for a decade – and when it came time for a replacement, it was more a case of evolution than revolution. Indeed, specialists generally regard the 308 and 328 to be two sides of the same coin – the new model was largely an advanced version of the existing car under the skin, with the principal difference being the new engine. The enlarged 3.2-litre V8 still sat transversely in the middle, but now it offered 270bhp, allowing the Italian stallion to canter to 60mph in 5.5s, going on to a top speed above 160mph.
The body design was gently developed, still chic but contemporised with more rounded profiles to the nose and tail, while the interior was comprehensively modernised. And for the 1988 model year, the platform received further revisions in the form of ABS, redesigned suspension geometry, convex 16” wheels and, as a little easter egg for the aficionados, teeny-tiny prancing horses on the wing mirrors.
Available in either GTB (‘Berlinetta’/coupe) or GTS (‘Spider’/targa) form, this stylish model cuts quite a dash – but arguably the best choice is the open-top GTS. Because when an engine sounds this good, you want to hear every single note of that mechanical symphony.
The phrase ‘time-warp’ gets banded around a lot in the classic car world, but it really is an appropriate description here. This is probably as close as it’s possible to get in 2021 to seeing a brand-new 1989 328 GTS. What we’re looking at here as the holy grail spec for a 328 – Rosso Corsa paint, Crema hide, open-top GTS layout, and incredibly low mileage; the clock is showing just 15,772, and that’s a genuine and provable figure. What’s equally impressive is the car’s originality – as the paperwork shows it’s had one or two little jobs carried out over the years, but it’s never been subject to a full restoration because it hasn’t needed it. This is a little-used classic that’s always been cherished.
The history file with this car is extremely reassuring, as you’d expect of a car that’s received such expert care. All of the original books and manuals are in place in the correct file, and the V5 shows the car having just three owners from new. A summary of the servicing work over its lifetime shows annual and major services through the early 1990s, a period of storage, then recommissioning in 2011 and regular annual, major and belt services ever since. In recent years the car has received some expert attention for corrosion to the wheel arches, lower quarters and door bottoms, all of which has been done very sympathetically, and the 328 has received new bushes and had the air-con converted to R134A gas, all meticulously documented. The file also contains a comprehensive sheaf of old MOTs.
Trimmed in desirable Crema hide, the interior is in utterly fabulous condition – it’s evident from every inch that this car hasn’t seen a lot of miles. The seats are in beautiful order with no cracking or excess wear and no sunken foam; the switchgear isn’t worn, the plastics aren’t scuffed, it’s all supremely tidy. The targa top seals correctly and is very simple to remove and refit, stowing behind the seats when not in use. The electric windows work properly, the air-con blows cold, the heater blows hot, every button we pushed did what it should. The only deviation from standard is the Kenwood CD player and DAB radio/aerial, which was installed in 2013. The carpets are all in excellent condition, and everything is dry and secure in the front and rear boots. Up front we find the correct spare wheel, while out back is the original toolkit and jack. There’s minimal wear on the steering wheel and gear knob, because of course they haven’t been used very much. Sorry, we’re going to have to wheel out the ‘time-warp’ cliché again!
Resplendent in Rosso Corsa, the 328 looks little short of stunning. The history details some minor bodywork to address corrosion in the arches and lower quarters, and this has all been done so seamlessly that it’s hard to know anything’s been done at all, blending perfectly into the original paintwork. All of the panels sit straight and true, the doors close with the proper surety and, yes, of course the pop-up headlights work. There are no scuffs on the bumpers, the light lenses are all in good order, and all of the correct trim and badging is in place. The original 8x16” alloy wheels are in unmarked condition and wear quality Pirelli tyres with plenty of tread. This is a beautifully presented example of the breed, ready to take prime position in the collection of a very fastidious enthusiast, and equally ready to scoop some silverware on the show scene.
As you’d expect of such a low-mileage car with such an honest history file, the mechanicals of this 328 are tip-top. Indeed, with 15k on the clock it’s barely run-in! We can see from the paperwork that it’s had all of its correct annual, major and belt services so nothing’s been allowed to perish or stagnate, it’s all in wonderful running order. The engine fires willingly, buzzing into the trademark busy idle before settling down as the fluids warm. The gearbox is a friendly accomplice, with none of the graunching or crunchiness that can beset them on higher-mileage cars. It pulls strongly while making a magnificent noise, and there’s nothing to concern us about the brakes, steering or suspension – it’s all as it should be.
The 328 as a model has a heck of a lot going for it. It’s as close as you can get to a stress-free classic Ferrari experience, given how much easier they are to work on than most other Ferraris; for example, most maintenance tasks can be done without dropping the engine out, which reduces the running costs somewhat. Of course, you’re probably not buying a 328 because you’re after a frugal and rational runabout (there’s a whole world of Ford Fiestas out there for that), so it’s good to know that the performance offered by the 328 feels every bit as vivid today as it did in the late-1980s; sure, we’re spoilt by massive horsepower in pretty much everything these days, but it’s gratifying to note that a 328 still feels genuinely rapid – and it sounds completely glorious too.
So any 328 is a good 328. But this GTS? Why, it’s exceptional. Where else are you likely to find one like this, with such low mileage, such strong history, such impeccable condition and quality? An investor-grade masterpiece, this really is one of a kind.
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