Find of the Week: 1989 Ferrari 328 GTS

For many people, Ferrari isn't so much a car company as a weaver of dreams. The prancing horse is beautiful to behold, but always seems to remain gambolling just out of reach, expensive, unruly, impractical, and expensive. Did we mention expensive?

Hence the current surge in popularity of the air-cooled Porsche, which allows for some of the same sense of rare fun in a package proven to be durable. But what if an ordinary enthusiast could get hold of the reins of a Ferrari that wouldn't bankrupt you either with initial cost or punitive maintenance? Have we got the find for you: a low mileage, jet-black 1989 Ferrari 328 GTS in West Vancouver.

In an ordinary dealership, a visitor arrives intent on shopping. At the Urban Garage, sometimes folks are just sticking their head around the door to see what's the latest piece of automotive candy on display in the showroom.

Tucked away on a brick-lined side-street in West Vancouver, this small, boutique dealership has a clubhouse feel and a deceptively small store front. Were it not for an Audi angle-parked out front, you might not think to press your nose to the window – and you'd be missing out on some serious sheetmetal. Today, for instance, a Lamborghini 550-2 Gallardo Balboni Edition rubs shoulders with a 997 Turbo fitted with bright yellow Porsche carbon-ceramic brakes. A near-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz E350 wagon offers luxurious hauling capacity, and if that's not quite big enough, an ebony full-sized Range Rover stands ready for duty. These simple, workshop-like surroundings are crammed cheek-by-jowl with all sorts of sports and luxury offerings, and have over the years seen 550 Maranellos, classic air-cooled Porsches, rare high-performance Audis, and BMW M-cars aplenty.

 

This particular car is one previously sourced by the Urban Garage's head hunters. While the dealership keeps a select inventory on hand, they also locate hard-to-find machinery to a client's specifications.

The 328 GTS might immediately provoke comparisons to the red Ferrari driven by Magnum P.I., but that particular car was a 308: plenty of moustache, not much actual Selleck. By comparison, the 328's 270hp 3.2L V8 is slightly more robust, and provides power levels that can cash the cheques that the curvaceous Pininfarina body wants to sign.

“A 1989 model is the year you want,” say Duncan Pearce, owner and proprietor of the Urban Garage, “it comes with ABS, which the earlier models didn't have – you can tell the year by the slightly different alloys.” Pearce is frank in his assessment of the car, “It's not really a daily-driver,” but unlike many early Ferraris, the 328 isn't impossible to work on. Because the engine doesn't have to be removed for many basic procedures, an enthusiast owner who is handy with a wrench could change the spark plugs, for instance.

Regular maintenance will include a timing belt every three years, at a cost of around $3000. That's not cheap, but by Ferrari standards, it's like the cost of an oil change.

The 328 GTS is, not to be insulting, the automotive equivalent of Goldilocks' porridge. It's fast enough to thrill, but not so quick that you're going to get into trouble. It's exotic, but not impossible to work on. It's iconic, but not so collectible that you can't afford one.

As a weekend toy for the price of a used Cayman, it's tempting indeed. This is the sort of Ferrari you can own without actually winning the lottery. It's special enough to feel like you've claimed the winning ticket, but within your grasp if you've just worked hard enough.

It's not going to be perfect – no Ferrari ever is. However, as an Italian thoroughbred you can actually afford, it's something very special. Just resist the urge to wear a Hawaiian shirt when you're driving it.

A Ferrari you can actually afford – in more ways than one. 8/13/2014 1:18:39 PM