Ferrari's Fabulous 308GTB/GTS
by Doug Breithaupt

Hot Wheels - 308 GTB

Maisto - 308 GTB

Matchbox - 308 GTB

Matcbox - 308-GTB Racer

Matchbox - 308 GTB (World Class)

Yat Ming - 308 GTB

Tomica - 308 GTB

Zylmex - 308 GTB
Of all the beautiful cars produced by Ferrari, for the general public, one model stands out as the personification of the marque. Thanks to the success of TV's Magnum P.I., staring Tom Selleck, the Ferrari 308 GTS has become an icon of desirable automobiles. While other Ferrari models, especially if painted other than red, might not be recognized by Jane or John Q. Public, the 308 GTS is seared on the memory of every mid-'80's TV viewer who saw the Magnum P.I. series. For once, the car is deserving of the recognition it receives.

While the 308 GTS (spider) or GTB (berlinetta) may not be the best Ferrari ever produced, no one can refute it is one of the most beautiful. The design came from Pininfarina, as most Ferrari designs do, but the 308 GTB/GTS is one of those landmark cars that simply looks perfect. While some might prefer the 250 GTO or the Dino 246, the 308 GTB/GTS has become the quintessential sports car of the 1980's and still one of the most desired cars on the planet. First produced in 1975 in fiberglass, the 308 became the 328 in the late 1980's with revised bodywork and mechanicals.

The popularity of the 308 GTB/GTS was not lost on toy car producers. Most of the major diecast houses did a 308 GTB or GTS model and some did both. It is possible that after doing a GTB model, the success of Magnum P.I. motivated manufacturers to add a GTS as well.

Hot Wheels was quick to offer the 308 GTB in 1977. This model still appears on occasion with yet another paint color. I have it in green, blue, silver, bronze, yellow and several versions of red, including one with a plastic body. When Hot Wheels bought Corgi in the 1990's, a number of Corgi castings were re-released with Hot Wheels' bases and wheels. Corgi's excellent GTS casting looks better with the 5-spoke HW wheels, quite close in fact to the Cromadora wheels offered on the real car. Corgi also released a Magnum P.I. version.

Matchbox was also an early producer of the 308 GTB. The original issue is in red and was made in Britain. A version in Pioneer racing colors came later and the model was one of the original World Class offerings. Matchbox added new wheels, and painted the car to make it appear to be a GTS for their Magnum P.I. Star Cars series. The result is marginal at best, although the original casting is quite nice.

Zylmex also did both a GTB and GTS version of the 308 with the GTS in possible 328 bodywork. Tomica did a fine 308 GTB with opening engine compartment and a view of the 4-cam Ferrari motor. While the opening engine bay is nice for detail, it does detract from the overall appearance on Tomica's 1:66 scale casting. As with most Tomicas, a variety of colors have been produced over the years.

Yat Ming still offers a 308 GTB in their budget line which may actually be a 328. Maisto also continues to offer their 308 GTB, with what appears to be a very close copy of the Matchbox casting.
Kidco produced several versions of their 308 GTS. The stock model, shown in yellow, offers excessive graphics but a decent profile. A plastic-bodied Magnum P.I. version was also offered but without an interior and with a key-operated, spring-action motor.

The 308 GTS attributed to Welly is not labeled as such but appears to be a Welly product. While quite similar in appearance to the Kidco casting, it is actually quite different with opening doors. In comparing the Kidco, Zylmex and Welly castings, the Welly turns out to be the best.

The oddest 308 model is by Galgo of Argentina. While the base does not identify this as a 308, the Ferrari lines are clear. The top is crude and this could be a Dino 308 GT/4 as it shows two small rear seats. Both the GT/4 and GTB models were raced but the body is not quite right for either. No other GT/4 models exist in 1:64 scale.

Corgi - 308 GTS

Hot Wheels - 308 GTS (Corgi casting)

Matchbox - Magnum P.I. 308 GTS

Kidco - Magnum P.I. 308 GTS

Kidco - 308 GTS

Welly - 308 GTS

Zylmex - 308 GTS

Galgo - 308 GT Racer