The Dino 308GT4 was not, strictly speaking, a Ferrari. As the first roadgoing offering from Maranello with less than 12 cylinders, its predecessor — the Dino 206/246GT of the late 60s — recalled the name of Enzo’s late son. Officially, Dino was a marque of its own; though the cars did carry the prancing horse insignia, only late models featured Ferrari wording on the bodywork. The V8-powered 308GTB took over from the V6 246 in 1974 and the two-plus-two version, the GT4, didn’t meet with a particularly warm reception. Contrasting with the 246’s undeniably beautiful rounded Pininfarina lines, the GT4’s Bertone-drawn linear styling was perceived as inelegant.
Time has been kind to it though. To my eyes it has always looked wonderfully aggressive and, yes, elegant in a muscular way. It sits down on its front haunches, its strong wedge darting upwards and incorporating widely spaced, decently fat wheels and tyres. And being a two-plus-two rather than a strict two-seater like the 246, the critics weren’t really comparing like with like. The Pininfarina attempt at the same concept was really the Mondial — still in production — and I doubt anyone could look me in the eye and say they thought that better looking than the GT4.
The mid-mounted three-litre 255bhp 90degree V8 was derived from the classic Colombo-initiated 60-degree V12 as used in the Daytona. It featured twin cams per bank but got by with just two valves for each of its cylinders, which were fed by four Weber carburettors. This was all sited transversely with a transaxle which incorporated the five forward gears. Suspension was classic double wishbone independent all-round.
It sold in good numbers for something so exotic and the two-seater derivative, the GTB, went on to become by far the best selling Ferrari of all time. The GT4 was replaced by the Mondial in 1980.