EV conversions might remove classic cars’ visceral sounds, but they give these old vehicles a new lease on life. Not just in terms of usability, but performance, too—and that even applies to a vintage Ferrari like the 308 GTS. But is going electric enough to let the 308 GTS close the speed gap with a newer classic icon? Say, a Ferrari Testarossa? That’s what the team at the British YouTube channel Carwow tried to find out.
A Ferrari Testarossa can still streak down the road in rad ‘80s style
The Ferrari Testarossa is arguably best remembered as an ‘80s poster car, but there’s more to it than just its looks. Underneath those Pininfarina-designed rakes is a true mid-engine supercar.
The Ferrari Testarossa gets its motivation from a mid-mounted fuel-injected 4.9-liter flat-twelve engine. According to the automaker, it makes 390 hp and 361 lb-ft of torque, sent to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual. That’s enough to let the Testarossa go 0-62 mph in a claimed 5.8 seconds.
However, the Ferrari Testarossa may have been underrated by the factory. In a 1986 test, Car and Driver recorded a 0-60 mph time of 5.0 seconds. And it’s worth noting that the test car was a US-market Testarossa, with ‘only’ 380 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. That same Testarossa also recorded a ¼-mile time of 13.3 seconds with a trap speed of 107 mph.
Thanks to a Tesla powertrain, the Ferrari 308 GTS solves its speed problem
Preceding the Ferrari Testarossa by almost a decade, the Ferrari 308 GTS had similar levels of star power. But in stock US-market form, its performance was arguably underwhelming, due to power-sapping emissions controls. And a later switch from fiberglass body panels to steel ones further blunted its speed, Hagerty explains.
However, several Ferrari 308 GTS owners have resolved these problems by replacing the original powertrain with a modern one. And that’s exactly what UK-based Electric Classic Cars did with the example in Carwow’s video. Only instead of an internal combustion engine, the shop swapped in a Tesla powertrain to create a ‘308 GTE.’
In standard form, a carbureted Euro-market Ferrari 308 GTS has a mid-mounted 2.9-liter V8 rated at 255 hp. That’s sent to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual, and good for a 0-60 mph time of “around 6.5 seconds,” Evo claims. However, the rear-mounted Tesla motor in the ‘GTE’ makes 450 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Plus, there aren’t any gears to shift.
In Carwow’s hands, the EV beat the flat-twelve
As of this writing, Electric Classic Cars doesn’t have an official 0-60 mph time for the Tesla-swapped Ferrari 308 GTS. But based on what Carwow experienced in its test, the EV-converted Ferrari is noticeably faster than the stock Testarossa.
From a standing start, the electric 308 GTS ran the ¼-mile in 12.1 seconds. The Ferrari Testarossa, though, did it in 13.3 seconds, just like Car and Driver recorded back in the day. And even when Carwow host Mat Watson gave the Testarossa a head-start in the subsequent rolling race, the Tesla-swapped 308 beat it. The 308 also beat the Testarossa in the 70-0 mph brake test, likely because it’s about 35 pounds lighter.
So, yes, with some Tesla help, a Ferrari 308 GTS doesn’t just prance right by a Testarossa—it gallops.
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