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The Ferrari

Ferrari Icon

1979 308 GTS
Pilot Movie
1978 308 GTS
'78 308 GTS
Robin Masters' red targa topped Ferrari is the classic Pininfarina-styled 308 GTS model (1975-1985). There were three different 308 GTS's used during the show's run. In the first season, the Ferrari was a 1978 308 GTS (one mirror, no rear spoiler, no front hood vent, red vents behind the headlights). For the second and third seasons, it was a 1980 308 GTSi (two rectangular mirrors, black vents behind the headlights). For the rest of the series, it was a 1984 308 GTSi Quattrovalvole (black vents on the hood and a black spoiler on the rear of the roof panel). Also, a green '84 308 GTSi QV (also owned by Robin Masters) was featured prominently in the Season Six episode "Summer School" (6.13). All of the models are mid-engined, steel-bodied, with rear wheel drive. Over 11,400 steel-bodied 308 models were built between 1975 and 1985.

The Ferraris used in the show had to be specially modified to accomodate Tom Selleck, who stands 6'4" tall. The padding was removed from the seats so he would sit lower in the car, and the seats were bolted as far away from the steering wheel as possible to maximize the leg room. Even with these modifications you can still see that Selleck's head is higher than the top of the front windshield frame! You very rarely saw Magnum drive with the top up.

The producers originally intended to use a Porsche 928 and asked Porsche to produce one with an extra large sunroof for aerial shots. Due to a strict policy by Porsche of not doing any special specifications at customer requests, the Ferrari 308 GTS was chosen instead and went on to become one of the most iconic cars of all time.

1980 308 GTSi
'80 308 GTSi
1984 308 GTSi Quattrovalvole
'84 308 GTSi QV
The '80 GTSi featured Bosch Digiplex fuel injection (replacing four Weber carburetors). This dropped the HP to 205 (from 240), but also decreased emissions. The '84 QV introduced four valve cylinder heads for the Dino 3-liter V8 engine, which increased the HP to around 230 (but also added more weight). The Quattrovalvole model could hit 60 MPH in a little over 6 seconds and topped out at 155 MPH! Of course, all versions of the 308 GTS feature exceptional car handling ability, as is often demonstrated by Magnum.

In the Pilot Movie, the license plate number of Robin's Ferrari was '56E-478' (and for one brief scene '561-068'). For the rest of the series it will be ROBIN 1, although the original license number will continue to be seen in every episode (during the opening title sequence) in the classic shot of Magnum smiling at the camera, then flooring the Ferrari with a nifty controlled slide.

Like T.C.'s chopper, Robin's Ferrari has suffered through countless mishaps and damage over the years, almost of all of it on Magnum's "watch". It's been blown up (more than once), driven off a cliff, riddled with bullets from small weapons fire, and has undergone dozens of repair jobs for everything from dented fenders and shattered windows, to full-scale transmission replacement. A complete listing of all the damage done to the Ferrari (and the Audi 5000) can be found here.

The show used more than one car when filming. One was a dedicated "action car" which was used for certain car chases and driving sequences. Another car was used for still shots and close-up scenes. There were also "kit car" versions of the 308 that were used for some of the more aggressive driving scenes done on the show. The kit cars were made of fiberglass and were built on a Pontiac Fiero chassis.

Ferrari Front
Ferrari Rear
All of the original Magnum P.I. Ferraris were auctioned off when the series ended in 1988. Larry Manetti bought one of the early GTS'. He reportedly still owns it. One of the cars, a '78 308 GTS, is on display at the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in Keswich, Cumbria, England. Also, an '84 308 QV is on display at Universal Studios Hollywood, as part of the Famous Fast Cars attraction.

For model enthusiasts, Revell made an excellent 1/24 scale model kit. The kit is no longer produced, but it can occasionally be found in hobby stores, and on eBay. For gamers, the arcade-style racing game Test Drive Unlimited (set in Oahu) features an add-on pack that includes the Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole as one of the cars you can drive! Check out the YouTube clip.

In an interesting bit of trivia, famed journalist and writer P.J. O'Rourke wrote an essay about the same exact 1978 308 GTS that was used in the Pilot Movie (and all of Season One). It's called Ferrari Refutes the Decline of The West, and it appeared in his book Republican Party Reptile (1989). In 1979, Ferrari asked him (and his boss at Car & Driver magazine) to drive the car from New York to L.A (as part of the process to get the car to Hawaii) and write an essay about it. The result was a fantastic road trip story at 140 mph!

In addition to the Ferrari, the show also featured several other cars, including an Audi 5000 (Robin 2), a Mercedes-Benz 380SL (Rick's car), a GMC Jimmy (Robin 3), a Jeep Cherokee XJ (second Robin 3), and a Volkswagen Vanagon GL (T.C.'s Island Hoppers van).

Thanks to Magnum P.I., the Ferrari 308 GTS is one of the most recognized and iconic cars of all-time. If you want to buy one, it will cost you a pretty penny, however. Good condition Quattrovalve models today go for around 35K, and maintenance/parts costs are very high.

Ferrari 308 GTS Specs

1978 308 GTS
Year(s) Horsepower
1977-1980 240 HP
Weight Torque
3,160 lbs. 181 lbs. @ 5000 RPM
Top Speed 0-60
151 MPH 7.0 seconds

1980 308 GTSi
Year(s) Horsepower
1980-1982 205 HP
Weight Torque
3,225 lbs. 181 lbs. @ 5000 RPM
Top Speed 0-60
146 MPH 7.3 seconds

1984 308 GTSi QV
Year(s) Horsepower
1982-1985 230 HP
Weight Torque
3,230 lbs. 188 lbs. @ 5000 RPM
Top Speed 0-60
155 MPH 6.1 seconds

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