Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Coolest Cars of 80s TV: Magnum P.I.’s Red Ferrari

Coolest Cars of 80s TV: Magnum P.I.’s Red Ferrari

When it comes to cool cars from TV, it doesn’t get much better than Magnum‘s targa-topped red Ferrari. The car featured in the show is the iconic Pininfarina-styled 308 GTS model (1975-1985).

Magnum P.I. featured three different versions of the 308 GTS throughout its eight seasons. The first season showcased a 1978 308 GTS with one mirror, no rear spoiler, no front hood vent, and red vents behind the headlights.

In the second and third seasons, a 1980 308 GTSi with two rectangular mirrors and black vents behind the headlights was used. From then on, they went with a 1984 308 GTSi Quattrovalvole with black vents on the hood and a black spoiler on the rear roof panel.

The red Ferraris featured in Magnum underwent special modifications to accommodate the height of Tom Selleck, who stands at an impressive 6’4″. According to Autoweek, the seat padding was removed to ensure a lower seating position, while the seats themselves were positioned as far back as possible to maximize legroom. Despite these adjustments, fans still noted that Selleck’s head exceeded the height of the front windshield frame. That’s why it’s a rare sight to see Magnum driving with the top up.

Originally, Magnum’s Car Wasn’t Going to be a Red Ferrari

Magnum producers initially had their sights on a Porsche 928, hoping for an extra large sunroof to capture those epic aerial shots. But alas, Porsche reportedly had a strict “no special requests” policy. So, the Magnum execs turned to the red Ferrari 308 GTS instead. Of course, it became an absolute legend, one of the most iconic cars of all time.

The 2018 Magnum P.I. reboot still went with a red Ferrari. However, they opted for the 488 Spider this time out. The original 308 boasted an impressive 0 to 60 mph acceleration of 6.7 seconds and top speeds reaching 156 mph. This was thanks to its powerful V8 engine paired with a five-speed manual transmission.

However, when compared to the modern 488 Spider, it lacked the convenience of power steering and featured a more resistant clutch. Nevertheless, during its time, it stood as a timeless muscle car, known for its raw power and performance. According to the Ferrari website, the sleeker 488 can accelerate from zero to 62 m.p.h in a mere three seconds. It can also achieve top speeds of up to 203 m.p.h.