3. Ferrari 208/308 GTB
Ferrari introduced the 308 GTB in 1985, basing it on the Bertone-styled 308 GT4. It offered better dynamics, but it had basically the same technology and power. Since their construction was almost identical, they shared the same engine. But the 308 GTB was strictly a two-seater and the 308 GT4 was 2+2. However, the 308 series proved to be popular with car fans.
When Ferrari stopped production in 1985, they had produced over 12,000 of them. This is the highest number of any Ferrari they build up to date. Besides the regular 308 with a 3.0-liter V8 engine, Ferrari offered various versions. This included the Ferrari 208 with a smaller 2.0-liter V8 and the 208 GTS Turbo. Those cars weren’t particularly powerful or fast, but they were attractive and handled well.
Today, any hot hatch can beat the Ferrari 308 GTB at a stoplight drag race, but the Ferrari driver will have more fun. For a long time, the prices of the 308/208 GTB and GTS fell around the $20-$30,000 mark, but they are starting to rise. Although those models are quite common, they represent symbols of an era. Expect prices to go stratospheric soon, so if you want an inexpensive 80’s Ferrari, start looking now.
Ferrari sold the 328 for only four years, between 1985 and 1989. The Ferrari 328 was the final and the best version of the 308 GTB chassis. It also featured a revised design and a slightly different front end. It came with two engine choices, the 3.2-liter V8 with 270 HP or the 2.0-liter turbocharged V8 with 254 HP.
Due to enhancements and improvements, the 328 was a fast machine capable of reaching 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, which was a big deal in 1988. Today, car fans regard the 328 as a classic, but prices are still reasonable. You can find a decent 328 in the $50,000 range.
Ferrari introduced the 348 in 1989. It was a modern looking machine and a successor to the popular 308/328 range. It featured an all-new platform, engine and three body styles, a coupe, Targa and convertible. With a wide rear track and a hint of Testarossa design, it was a handsome machine delivering a top performance from the 3.4-liter V8 engine.
Consumers and the car press received the 348 well. As a result, Ferrari sold over 8,000 348s until 1995 when they replaced it with the F355. However, the quality wasn’t so the best on early 348. Some owners reported massive maintenance costs because the car required extensive work to be fully functional.
That is why the Ferrari 348 costs just over $40,000 on today’s market with the best going for around $60,000. The car is still great to drive. Also, if you get the convertible, you will enjoy the glorious V8 soundtrack. Just beware of high maintenance costs.
Entering the car world in 1980, the Mondial was the successor of the Ferrari 308 GT4. It was a compact, Grand Turismo sports car with a 2+2 seating configuration and a mid-engine layout. The changes meant it offered more space than both the 308 and 328 GTB models, which were two-seaters only.
Although the Mondial was more practical and somewhat more affordable, it wasn’t particularly popular. Today it is a poorly regarded model in the Ferrari community. The design wasn’t dynamic, so Mondial performance figures were slower than the rest of the Ferrari lineup. The company responded by offering a 3.2-liter V8 and a turbo version, but it didn’t help its reputation.
Mondial production ended in 1993 after Ferrari produced close to 5,000 examples. Today, this is one of the most inexpensive ways to Ferrari ownership. A decent example will set you back around $35,000.
Most car enthusiasts would love to own a Ferrari for Lexus money. It is a tempting proposal, so if you lust for the sensual lines of the gorgeous F355, the good news is you can buy this car for around $50,000. Ferrari introduced it in the mid-90’s, so now is your chance to buy it for the price of a new, well-equipped mid-size SUV. But there is a catch. The car is obviously beautiful, fast and powerful, as well as relatively inexpensive and common.
So, what is the problem? It is the durability and maintenance costs. There are several significant problems with the F355. You will be shocked to hear how much the service costs. The exhaust manifolds can crack. So, how is that possible since the headers are not a complicated part and rarely crack on modern cars? The answer is bad engineering and poor materials.
The cost of replacing the headers is close to $5,000. However, if you don’t do the headers and keep driving, you could face engine failure. A full engine re-build costs around $25,000. Also, the valve guides are prone to failure in approximately one out of every five Ferrari F355s. As you can expect, the price of sorting this problem out is also astronomical at approximately $6,000.
Also, every three to five years, F355 owners are required to do a regular belt change and full service. This includes pulling the engine out of the car and undergoing several days of expensive labor. Some dealers charge around $10,000 for this routine service. This should discourage you from buying a used Ferrari F355. However, if you can save a little more, look for the F360 or 430. They are far more reliable and more user-friendly cars.
Ferrari 456 GT
If you want a Ferrari with modern appointments and creature comforts for a reasonable price, the 456 GT is the one for you. Ferrari first introduced it in 1992 in Europe and in 1995 in America. The 456 GT combines classic proportions, a glorious V12 engine and full comfort for four adults and their luggage.
Thanks to a 5.5-liter V12 engine and 442 HP on tap, 456 GT is still a fast machine and can outrun some much younger cars. Ferrari offered the option of an automatic gearbox for buyers who don’t want to shift gears. The automatic versions are more affordable than the six-speed manuals. The 456 GT stayed in production until 2003 and Ferrari made over 3,200 wonderful, understated GT cruisers.
Despite costing almost $300,000 in mid-90’s, you can buy the 456 GT for around $60,000 today. Models in top shape go for just over $70,000. Although this is a large sum for any car enthusiast, consider the features of this elegant cruiser, including its power, design and legend.
Ferrari 550 Maranello
Emerging from the Ferrari factory in 1996, the 550 Maranello marked the return to the classic sports car formula Ferrari used in the early 70’s at the fantastic Daytona races. It had a front-mounted V12, a transaxle gearbox in the back, two seats and an elegant, yet aggressive aluminum body. In short, this was the 550 Maranello.
Ferrari produced it for five years. It proved relatively successful with Ferrari selling just over 3,000 cars. They replaced the 550 Maranello with the upgraded, faster and visually similar 575 MM. But only the 550 Maranello is the Ferrari you can buy for a reasonable amount of money. The 550 Maranello featured a new 5.5-liter V12 engine with 485 HP. It was able to get to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds.
Even 20 years ago, those were impressive numbers but today, the 550 Maranello is a seriously fast car. Currently, decent examples are changing hands for around $70,000. However, the prices are slowly rising. A good 575 MM will set you back over $100,000.
It is hard to comprehend but they introduced the Ferrari 360 in 1999, so it is now almost a 20-year-old machine. The car still looks and performs modern and has all the current features. So, you could easily think it is just a couple of years old. As a successor to the F355, the Ferrari 360 was a far better car in many ways. It featured upgraded, more durable technology, a new V8 engine and more power.
It also came with better options including the famed F1 sequential gearbox and lower maintenance costs. In fact, owners could drive the 360 daily, because it proved better in constant use. After the astronomical costs for servicing the F355, people considered maintaining the Ferrari 360 affordable.
Ferrari produced over 15,000 versions of the 360, so the car is common, making the prices reasonable. Good examples are going for around $60,000, while the Challenge Stradale or some other special versions will set you back considerably more. From this perspective, owning a 360 is a clever move. You will pay much less than for the new Porsche 911, but still have the same appeal and performance.
Fiat Dino Coupe
Yes, this is Fiat but back in 1967, Fiat introduced the Dino, a coupe and a convertible sports car which featured a Ferrari V6 engine straight from the 246 GT Dino. Bertone designed the coupe, while Pininfarina styled the convertible. The two cars shared the mechanics, engine and performance, but the design was totally different.
They officially sold the Fiat Dino Coupe in America. In some classified ads, they go for as little as $15,000, which is the most affordable way to own a piece of Ferrari magic for Ford Fiesta prices. If you are a budget-minded car enthusiast, look for the Dino Coupe since it is more common and affordable than the convertible. Also, go for the later 2.4-liter V6 version since it is better and faster than the early 2.0-liter model.
Lancia Thema 8.32
Ferrari never officially built a four-door sedan, but Lancia did. In 1986, they introduced the Thema 8.32. This was a top of the range Lancia model at the time. It featured Ferrari’s transversally mounted 3.0-liter V8 engine from the 308 GTB Quattrovalvole; hence the name. It had eight cylinders with 32 valves.
This wasn’t the first time Ferrari borrowed an engine from Lancia. Some 10 years before the Thema 8.32, the Lancia Stratos received a 2.4-liter V6 from a Ferrari Dino. However, it was the first time a Ferrari engine powered a luxury sedan. The Thema 8.32 produced 212 HP and had a seven-second 0 to 60 mph time. This was fast for the day and for a front-wheel drive sedan.
To call the 8.32 a BMW M5 competitor would be a stretch, but the Thema Ferrari was a comfortable cruiser with lots of style. Of course, Lancia offered a high level of standard equipment and a long list of luxury options, too. Lancia discontinued it in 1992, selling just 3,000 Thema 8.32s. This model is unknown to American enthusiasts since Lancia never imported cars officially to the U.S. in the late 80’s.
The Thema as a model is mechanically similar to the Alfa Romeo 164 or SAAB 9000 that they sold in America. Fortunately, the Thema 8.32 is now over 25 years old, which means they can legally import it to the U.S. The prices of the Thema in Europe are below $20,000, which is affordable considering the rarity and provenance of this extraordinary Italian sedan.
These affordable Ferraris cost less than a full-size SUV, so if you have always dreamt of driving one, now is the time to make your move. You could be the proud owner of a cool Ferrari.