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Ah, the ’80s, when fast cars ruled the roads and starred in TV shows. Whether it was Michael Knight’s black 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, Sonny Crockett’s white 1986 Ferrari Testarossa, or Bo Duke’s orange 1969 Dodge Charger, cool cars kept the action going on TV screens in the ’80s.

But arguably the most iconic TV car of that era is Thomas Magnum’s Prancing Horse. The iconic ’80s heartthrob Tom Selleck thrilled millions of viewers as he drove a red Ferrari on Magnum, P.I.

Magnum P.I. had good taste in cars

Tom Selleck sits in a red Ferrari 308 for the CBS TV series 'Magnum, P.I.' in January 1984
Tom Selleck sits in a red Ferrari 308 for the CBS TV series ‘Magnum, P.I.’ in January 1984 | CBS via Getty Images

Magnum, P.I. was an action-packed TV series airing on CBS for eight seasons from 1980 to 1988. Mustached star Tom Selleck portrayed Thomas Magnum, a private investigator who drove his Ferrari to local crime scenes. 

America’s favorite private investigator drove a bright red 1984 Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole. Producers used three cars for filming. According to Star Adviser, “Ferrari North America provided CBS with the vehicles and reclaimed them once they were done with filming to repaint and sell to new owners.”

In 2017, one of the supercars used during the 1984-85 season went up for auction at Bonhams in Scottsdale, Arizona. Motor 1 reported that “the original 3.0-liter V8 remains, paired to a five-speed manual gearbox and producing 232 horsepower.” The car sold for $181,500. 

The Ferrari had only 36,000 miles on it, and the original Rosso Corsa red paint job remained in impeccable condition. 

“This Ferrari captured the hearts of millions throughout the 1980s in living rooms across America as Tom Selleck piloted this exact car around the streets of Hawaii in the pursuit of justice,” the New York Post said of the auction listing.

Magnum P.I.’s Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS became a hot seller in the ’80s

The Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS became the best-selling model in the ’80s, due in part to the success of Magnum, P.I.

In 1975, master designer Leonardo Fioravanti came up with the concept of curved wing-tops and beautifully sculpted air intakes for the Ferrari 308 GTB. A transverse-mounted 3-liter V8 allowed the car to go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 150 mph.

According to Evo, “Between 1975 and 1985, more than 12,000 were sold in a combination of GTB, GTS (Targa roof), and QV (Quattrovalvole) variants.” In 1985, the 308 evolved into the 328, with a slightly larger engine. In 1988, Ferrari stopped the line altogether.

The Ferrari 308 GTSi changed the game in 1982 with four valves per cylinder in the engine, providing a power boost that Ferrari owners loved. Motorious reports that the mid-mounted naturally aspirated 2.9-liter V8 engine harnessed 237 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque.

The 2018 ‘Magnum, P.I.’ reboot chose a Ferrari 488 Spider

After almost 30 years, Magnum P.I. returned to television with a 2018 reboot on CBS starring Jay Hernandez.

Sticking to the original storyline, the new show was also set in Hawaii and featured a shiny red Ferrari for the private eye to drive. The only thing missing was the trademark mustache.

The 2018 Ferrari 488 Spider used in the now-canceled series had a 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8 engine producing an astounding 660 hp. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission allows the 488 to roar from 0 to 60 pm in just three seconds and reach over 200 mph.

Road Show calls the 488 Spider “the spiritual successor to the 308, but with the benefit of 30-plus years of cutting-edge automotive evolution and creature comforts.”


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