By on January 20, 2016

1985 Ferrari 308 GTSi QV

As a proud member of the Brown Car Appreciation Society, I had to share this magnificent example of Italian history. Sure, Ferrari may call the color “Prugna Metallica” — or metallic purple for us Anglos — but it’s brown to my eyes (and that of the dealers’ camera).

This is perhaps the only way to fly under the radar in a Ferrari.

I doubt I’ll ever own a Ferrari as three conditions are conspiring against me: the upward trend in the value of nearly all exotic classics; the terrifying parts and maintenance costs; and I can’t fit into the cheapest Ferrari, like this 1985 Ferrari 308 GTSi QV. Famously, Tom Selleck’s 6-foot-4-inch frame couldn’t fit in Magnum’s 308 GTS with the targa roof in place. And I’m just as tall as Mr. Selleck, though my facial hair isn’t nearly as distinguished.

There appear to be plenty of service records, always a plus with any older exotic. The leather is faded, and possibly has some odd transfer of blue denim dye. No worries, though: this looks like a Ferrari I (well, someone smaller than I) could hop in and drive cross-country without fear of a few stone chips.

The eBay auction has a reserve price set, but a quick look at the dealers’s website reveals a $54,500 ask. Five years ago, this was a $25,000 car. I’m not certain they’ll get more than forty thousand, though, considering the non-red paint. I like different, though, so this appeals to me.

Chris Tonn is a broke classic car enthusiast that writes about old cars, since he can’t afford to buy them. Commiserate with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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42 Comments on “Digestible Collectible: 1985 Ferrari 308 GTSi QV...”


  • avatar

    I sold mine for 80K in 1990. It was a 1984.

  • avatar
    philipbarrett

    The white walls & concrete floor meant I didn’t even have to click the link. Another BHCC special.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I wonder what the value would be if some enterprising individual bought this and had a good painter put a coat of Roso Corsa Red, aka Ferrari red on the outside.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The same. +$10K for being red, but -$10K for being repainted. :-)

      Good friend of mine has one of these, along with an E-type and an Aladdin’s cave full of wacky stroker Saabs. he does all the work on it himself, and reports it isn’t too terrible to deal with, though parts are VERY spendy.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    FYI, I’m 6’3″, and I fit in a 348. It’s not the cheapest Ferrari yet, but it probably will be soon.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Red Ferraris are so cliche; I like the brown.

    But anyone selling a car like this should post photos of more than just the exterior, and with better quality.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Were QVs ever really $25k cars? I didn’t think they ever got that low, that was saved for the 2v injected cars.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Like all Italian cars, pretty to look at, pretty awful to keep running.

    I’ll just take a Chevy, thank you.

    I couldn’t digest this – it would go straight through me!

    • 0 avatar
      Brumus

      A family friend bought one of these in ’84, and from his endless horror stories of trying to keep this thing running I am of the mind these were one of the most wretchedly unreliable cars ever assembled.

      Any truth to Car & Driver back in the day getting a better 0-60 time from a Merkur XR4Ti than from a 308?

      • 0 avatar
        runs_on_h8raide

        If I recall, I believe you are correct in that it was tick quicker. The Merkur XR4Ti was one of my favorite cars to look at when I was a kid. A very cool looking car. I’d take that over this Ferrari.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Chris, you’re my hieght so you’ll fit into this car as well as I did during the one opportunity I had to drive one…. everything will be fine fine as long as the roof is off and you don’t need to shift into reverse. Also, consider surgery if you want to fit your leg between the steering wheel and the clutch pedal.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Nice car, as long as you don’t get into any stop light races with modern minivans.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Rethinking this position, it occurs to me that you could (at risk of angering the ghost of Enzo Ferrari) mod a 308 so it was really fast, and then be in the rather bizarre situation of having a *Ferrari sleeper*. It might even be worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Which is completely missing the point of a car like this. No minivan is going to keep up in the corners. Or make you look even .000001% as cool driving it. As my aging Dentist 308 owning friend says, the best three words in the English language are “That’s MY Ferrari”. And it really doesn’t matter which one it is. 99% of people don’t know the difference. These cars are like mistresses – a ton of fun, horrifically expensive, and not for everyone. And thank God for that.

      And it is so true that it is better to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow – as long as the slow car FEELS fast. And these feel very fast indeed with that little V8 howling behind your ears.

      I actually have a huge soft spot for the Mondial. Same fun, 1/2 the price, more practical.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I don’t care that the Camry next door could leave it standing at a stoplight…I still think the 308 is one of the prettiest cars on the road…

    • 0 avatar
      pbr

      This is the only reason to ever consider owning one of these. I’ve driven a few, they’re slow, clumsy-handling, have lousy ergonomics and will eat your wallet with routine maintenance bills if you actually drive it. None of which matters if it turns your crank.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        OTOH, they’re mostly DIY friendly, are appreciating rather than going the other way, sound fantastic, you get to say you drive a Ferrari, let you into the exotic car driver club, etc. I’d love one, but since I like to drive my cars I’d probably punt and get an NSX instead.

        • 0 avatar
          pbr

          “mostly DIY friendly” … yeah, until cam-belt replacement time comes. then you drop the power unit to do it properly. At some point “DIY friendly” becomes merely “DIY-able.” Helps if you have access to a lift! No right/wrong answers, everyone gets to decide on their own.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Cambelts on these are done through the wheelwell.

            ALL DIY car stuff is easier with a lift. If you can afford one of these, you can afford a lift. I’m about to buy a third for my garage, a low-rise platform lift, all of $1200. I’ll probably sell my mid-rise scissor lift, it is too much of a pain to get low cars over, though otherwise it is pretty great. I have a 4-post for doing undercar stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      The 308/328 community has a lot of DIYers. It’s probably the most fun-efficient way to go with these older, less reliable Ferraris. With that much downtime, you might as well enjoy doing your own work. Just take loads of pictures and document everything to convince the next owner you did it right!

    • 0 avatar
      old5.0

      This series were always my favorite Ferrari. While most kids in the 80’s had a poster of a Testarossa or Countach on the wall, I had a 288 GTO.

  • avatar
    callmeishmael

    BHCC, where a fool and his money are soon parted.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Magnum: I’m not an intruder, I’m a guest!
    Higgins: Guests eventually leave.

  • avatar
    Rday

    THE Italian supercars and other exotic brands are meant for people that are poseurs, have billions to spend or just plain idiots. I once owned an exotic car and fount out quickly that it cost a fortune to maintain, had very limited service centers and would run like a banshee. but then I grew up and left my immature child hood fantasies. I moved on to the good cars that didn’t need to go 120+ mph. If you have the money to waste and drive on the autobahn regularly then they make some sense but not good business sense.
    I think that most of the posters on here must be adolescent teenagers or even unemployed adults that are living at home off of their parents. Or don’t have a clue how real men are and how they relate to women.
    Cars are a mechanical device that could care less about its’ owners. Anyone that puts their egos on the line because of his/her car is a really desperate person seeking some kind of approval from their peers.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Any car shaped like a woman has my mark of approval.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    A friend of mine has one of these. He bought it slightly used in the late 80’s and has owned it ever since. It is quite lovely, and his is a decent colour: bright yellow. Those things and the sound are really the only good parts about it though. The driving position is weird verging on impossible for non-orangutans, and performance is non-existent. You’re best off adopting an “I could go fast if I wanted to” attitude and leaving it at that.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    I have this cars big brother the 512BBI and have owned it for near on 25 years. The coments here are interesting. Basicaly you can boil down the perspectives to those of (A) auto enthusiasts and (B) everyone else, a category that may also include people who can buy fast cars but have no real clue of the art and pleasure of driving for the own sake..

    As a kawasaki/ducati racer said to me in the 70’s, its not about how fast you go, but how you go fast that counts, and thats when kawasaki had much more hp than a ducati. Would you rather fly a p51 mustang or a faster airbus?

    In the past Ferraris were never about 0-60 and were all about how they flowed down the road at speed. Their singularity of purpose, and styling that came from an artists eye (not legislation) always required an owner who understood. A 308 QV has all the attributes of a classic ferrari.

    It can happily flow along pinging of the redline if you want between 60-130 mph for days on end, the motor singing to you, the unassisted steering talking to you, The whole car alive around you. Its an imersive experience appreciated by those who simply love to drive. Others are udoubtably happier in a faster easier to find service mercedes sl or lexus.

    As to running costs. Most parts are not expensive. But certain things are labor intesive, so if you cant do the work yourself that componant can add up. Its important to find one that has not had defered maintance. Old cars need new hoses, brake caliper rebuilds, new bushings on top of whatver is a normal maint item. Many owners think their cars run well because they just run.

    If you want an older ferrari to run properly all of the above either need attention or a prior owner has already attended to them. If not thats an extra 5-10K(with labor) to sort. The ferraris of this era also have cams driven by belts, a belt change is something to do every 5-7 years at which time most people rebuild water pumps and attend to a few other things. If you cant do this work yourself its another 5-7K, parts wise less than 1k.

    Besides this, a 308 needs its oil changed every year and you should do brake fluid every two. But its frame tarnsmsiion and mtoor are very robust, so high speed use will not harm them in the least, unlike many other so called fast cars, these cars were built tough enough to have their performnce exploited daily.

    Yes maintanance is going to cost, you are also buying an asett. Something to keep which will over a period of time appreciate as opposed to new car depreciation, keep it long enough and this appreciation balances maintanace costs.

    As these cars are classics, they are not going to be superceded by next years model, if you like it now, it will be the same likable 10 years from now. Its somehting of timelss quality and attributes, something to buy keep and enjoy. On that basis these cars are not expensive compared to any other similar enetertainemnt over a period of time.

    As to use, this is a sunday early am drive, preferably on smooth twisty two lane road, in which case it clears the mind and rewards in a way few other cars can.

    Its not for going to the supermarket, although it can, and if you get stuck in traffic on a hot day, the car wont overheat, but you certainly will with the subotimal ac and the heavy clutch/shift.

    I cant think of any new car that will offer the same experince, and most of the older stuff which is a comparable classic experience is many multiples more to buy.

    If you ever lament a car getting too expensive because of poseurs and speculators, and can swing a 308 before that happens then do. 10 years from now or less this will be hailed as THE starter classic ferrari. Rememebr when 246 dinos were 13k.

    • 0 avatar
      pbr

      Glad you brought up Ducati … a Duc/Aprilia/Guzzi/etc is an Italian exotic that actually A) raises my heart rate, B) I can afford and C) fits in my garage & DIY-willingness zone.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Why the lack of photos of the interior, undercarriage, and engine? Why is a brown 1985 car bid up to 30k? I guess I don’t understand the world anymore.

  • avatar
    davew833

    I remember seeing one of these on display at the mall in 1985. It was this very same color. I remember thinking it was quite beautiful in person and not as ostentatious as every other red Ferrari out there.

  • avatar
    Chan

    I see a few people harping on the lack of interior pictures.

    They’re on the eBay page; scroll all the way down.

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