Featured: The '70s Called, They Want Their Metallic Brown Ferrari Back

The ’70s Called, They Want Their Metallic Brown Ferrari Back

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
August 7, 2018
14 comments

Story by Laura Ferriccioli
Photography by Marco Annunziata

Angles. Out of the blue. A cold shower. In 1973 the 308 GT4 was revealed to an unsuspecting world, totally changing the design language of the Dino 206 and 246. No more smooth and curvaceous lines, no more two-seaters like in all the previous derivatives, but a spectacularly squared-off 2+2 on a chassis of only 2.55m in length (about 8.37ft). Only 21cm longer than the previous 246 GT and GTS, the Dino 308 GT4 was the first Bertone-penned Ferrari, after a long line of Pininfarina creations.

The result was a perfect wedge of ’70s style, especially in this particular color so typical of the decade: brown. “Marrone metallizzato 106-M-73,” to be precise. “Design has always been the most important aspect for me when judging a car,” says the owner of this one, Andreas Birner. “In the case of the Dino 308 GT4, it was anything but love at the first sight. When I was very young, I didn’t like it at all. I had that ‘It’s not a real Ferrari!’ sort of attitude. The majority of the Ferraristi at the time considered the GT4 to be the ugly duckling of the family. That’s why it had been the least expensive used and later classic Ferrari model in the market,” he explains.

German, 43 years old, he is a Ferrari historian and broker. Andreas is convinced that “Every style has its period, and they tend to repeat. After the ’70s, the mainstream became more rounded again. Then, since the early 2010s, car design has looked back to more angular shapes, and in my opinion, this gave the GT4 a newly developed kitsch appeal among classic car enthusiasts.” In fact, 15-20 years ago you could pick up a reasonable-condition GT4 in Europe for about $12 or 13,000, a significantly lower sum than needed today.

Andreas isn’t alone in his sentiments, and the Dino 308 GT4 is one of the most underrated Ferraris of the ’70s and ’80s, according to market experts. “Its handling is simply phenomenal, like that of a go-kart!” he enthuses, “But at the same time, it offers so much comfort, The perception of interior space that you get while sitting at the wheel is amazing, and the car is even comfortable for a big guy like me.”

The model also solved the problem of luggage, which had always been tricky in mid-engined cars. The rear legroom for passengers in the 308 GT4 is not particularly large, but managing to combine it with a separate load compartment at the rear—and with more space for baggage under the bonnet—the great Italian designer Marcello Gandini succeeded in meeting a significant challenge. Another turning point represented by the car was that it marked the beginning of Ferrari’s production of successful V8-engined road cars. The 90-degree engine with four Weber 40 DCNF carburetors in the middle of the V superseded the preceding Dino’s V6. Its capacity is 2926 cc.

“I bought chassis number 12738 in Como, in 2013, from a couple who inherited the Dino 308 GT4 from a parent in 1995,” Andreas recalls. “The advert on a German online platform just showed one single photo of the car’s ASI (Automotoclub Storico d’Italia) certification. Due to this very modest exposure, it had been up for sale for a long time before I decided to go for it.”

Andreas had never driven a 308 GT4 before and “It turned out to be a highly original example that was only needing some TLC due to its long slumber in a garage for many years.” Being an early series II built in 1976, this car is Ferrari branded rather than Dino-only, as the year prior Maranello had finally decided to substitute the Dino’s logo with the Prancing Horse. The Cavallino was more appreciated by customers, and so that became then the standard designation until the end of production in 1980.

Andreas’s example is also one of a small number of 308 GT4s that were produced with black fiberglass bumpers instead of the standard chromed versions. “This difference approximately involved chassis numbers from 12,400 up to 13,000 because of a temporary shortage of chrome in Italy at the time,” the Kassel-based enthusiast explains.

The car isn’t his first Ferrari, but he is particularly happy with this purchase describing the car as “pure fun” to actually use in addition to appreciating its historical significance. He can be found driving it often, and soon he’ll take it on the the 700km journey from central Germany to St. Moritz, Switzerland, to take part in the famous Italian classic car gathering Passione Engadina, scheduled for later in August. Not only that, every year he used to attend the Dino’s annual tours by Matthias Bartz—author of the book Dino Compendium—as a guest and photographer. The event is organized on behalf of the Ferrari Club Deutschland, and of course earlier this year in June, Andreas was sure to attend the birthday celebrations for the 50th  anniversary of Dino road cars in Maranello with his GT4—a place where unlike the rest of the world, everyone recognizes the wedge.

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Alexandre GoncalvesGregg SobocinskiDennis WhiteFranz KafkaJeff Nolan Recent comment authors
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Alexandre Goncalves
Alexandre Goncalves

I really don’t get the tittle – I love the color – is there any book that says that Ferrari’s should come only in Red?

Thank god someone had the balls to order it brown!

As to the car itself – only saw it one hads – never seen one in person, so I will not speak my mind about it.

All I can say, is that they used to cost 25.000 euros some 10/8 years ago… I’m sure that price is long gone…..

Btw, nice article! 🙂

Gregg Sobocinski
Gregg Sobocinski

The public may have been surprised, but even with the distracting, non-Ferrari badging, they still bought more than previous Ferrari models. And a large percentage were NOT red. Personally, I don’t get the snarky headline on this article. It doesn’t fit with the love the owner has for this car and color.

Dennis White
Dennis White

It might say something that Gordon Murray thinks it’s a great car and has one in his collection.

I think they look great in black, but then I’m a little partial!

Jeff Nolan

I’ve been looking. There is a Nicciola brown GT4 for sale in Emeryville for $54k. I like the browns on this car. The one challenging thing about this model is that owners put a lot of miles on them.

Jack B
Jack B

I’ve owned two 550 Maranellos, a 330GTC and a 308GT4. The GT4 is very much an under appreciated car, particularly by those who don’t really know as much about them as they think they do. Some of the most respected Ferrari enthusiasts and collectors have GT4s that are driven more than most of their other Ferraris. My mechanic, who has been a tech at the same authorized Ferrari dealer since the late-60s had a GT4 as his daily driver for more than 10 years. The very famous English purveyor of fine leathers, whose name you would recognize, had two of… Read more »

Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka

Finally ! Someone else unlike to two idiots below ( Mr’s Weinberger / Tillim and Levitt ) who knows the facts , reality and history when it comes to Ferrari’s , Ferrari ownership in general and the 308GT4 specifically . Kudos for being one of the few that do rather than pretending like so many others try to do

George Curnew
George Curnew

When it was introduced, I recall being disappointed that the lines of the 308 GT4 were such a radical departure from the 246. Over the years, the 308 GT4 (and other 308s and 328s) have really grown on me. Although it’s been a few years since I’ve seen a GT4 in the flesh, it’s striking how compact the cars are compared to contemporary Ferraris.

Jim Levitt
Jim Levitt

There not half bad looking at all, they were TOTALLY ugly as hell!.
My first Ferrari and my first Daytona was this color. I painted it white in about 3 months.
It was buy this one or wait 3-4 months for Hollywood Sport Cars to receive their next batch.
Brown with tan, great on a MBZ or a Porsche, not on a Daytona so I painted mine White and redid the interior in Black!

1971 Daytona white 14081.jpg
Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka

Suffice it to say unless the previous owner had repainted it , it is literally impossible for your so called Daytona to of been this color as the factory nor any factory option ever offered the color on the Daytona or its younger sister 365GTC/4

Tom DesRochers
Tom DesRochers

I wonder if there’s any of those in SoCal. A Ferrari owner probably would not be too happy seeing my Metallic Brown Ford.

Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka

The Dino 308 GT4 . Ferrari’s ‘ ugly duckling ‘ that once you got past the initial aesthetics wasn’t half bad looking at all with the convenience of two extra ( kids ) seats for the munchkins or the groceries / luggage and most of the performance and handling of its sibling the 308 GTB One issue to consider though before buying ; Everything on the 308 GT4 is expensive from changing the spark plugs ( require removing the entire engine ) to major repairs . So unless your pockets are deep DO NOT be fooled by the reasonable cost… Read more »

david weinberger
david weinberger

If you really don’t need to remove the engine to replace the plugs on the front bank. You only need the articulated socket that came with the car.
One of the joys of the GT/4 is how basic it’s tech is and how much work even a mildly adept owner can do.

Spencer Tillim

Nearly everything can be done, less removing the front cylinder heads and serious gearbox work, with the engine in the car. Most tools can be bought at harbor freight, lol! Like buying any classic car you have to look out for a good body and chassis. Because so many 308 cars were made, there is an aftermarket of “affordable” parts. Its the silly trim and interior details that really cost a significant amount of money… Oh, and a serious engine rebuild, but that is the same as any ’70’s / 80’s Porsche. Like any person who can wrench and/or figure… Read more »

Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka

To both Mr Weinberger as well as Mr Tillim you are both utterly clueless as well as completely full of fertilizer when it comes to the reality of owing a 308GT4 proving point blank neither of you ever owned nor so much as knew / know anyone who’s ever owned a 308 GT4 in your entire existence . Fact is I’ll bet the closest you’ve ever come to any Ferrari was at a car show or a museum . Perhaps in future rather than making things up you might want to try relying on the facts … as in F-A-C-T-S… Read more »