Automotive

The Ferrari 208 Turbo Was A Tax-Beating, 2.0-liter Downsized Supercar

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Italians love their Ferraris, and in the 1970s and 1980s, so did the Italian tax man. The country charged 20 percent tax on new cars with engines below 2,000 cc and a socking 35 percent on bigger machinery at a time when even Ferrari’s baby cars sold around the world had 3.0-liter engines.

Portugal had a similar tax system (as does China today), which is why both Portugal and Italy received some pretty strange downsized performance cars not offered in other countries, including the BMW 320iS, a 2.0-liter version of the 2.3-liter E30 M3 with a narrow-arch shell, a Maserati Merak V6 cut down from 3.0-liters to 2.0-liters, and a Ferrari 308 GT4 Dino given the same treatment to create a 208 GT4.

When the gorgeous 308 GTB appeared in 1975, Ferrari set to work making a 208 version of that, too. But losing one third of an engine’s swept volume inevitably meant giving away a big chunk of performance. The 1980 208 GTB was rated at just 154 hp (155 PS) and a puny 125 lb-ft (125 Nm), compared with 211 hp (214 PS) for the injected 308 GTBi introduced that same year, and 252 hp (255 PS) for the original Euro-spec, carb-fed 308 GTB.

Related: We Face Swapped The Ferrari Purosangue With Some Pretty Interesting Results

Ferrari’s performance fightback started in 1982 with the 208 Turbo, the company’s first ever forced-induction road car. Adding a KKK K26 blower pumped output to 217 hp (220 PS), and the sexy Naca ducts added in the lower rear quarters to aid cooling made it look even better.

The fact that Ferrari cut the capacity by reducing the bore and not the stroke as BMW had, suggests the 208 would hate revs, but the 7,800 rpm redline says otherwise. Of course the only way to know for sure – and to find out whether the turbo ruins the V8 soundtrack – would be to get behind the wheel, which you can do by snapping up this gorgeous 1984 example currently offered for sale in Germany through the Collecting Cars auction site.

Allegedly one of only 437 examples made, it has covered 38,284 miles (61,612 km) and is reported to be in excellent condition. Would you take it over a regular 308?

more photos…

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