You might recognize this as a car just like the Ferrari on "Magnum P.I.! It's not Tom Selleck but this Ferrari does have celebrity provenance!
Many Americans were introduced to the Ferrari 308 GTS in December of 1980 when CBS debuted the first episode of “Magnum P.I.”, a show which featured a relatively unknown Tom Selleck as a former Navy Seal heading the security of a posh Hawaiian estate and taking on an occasional case in that tropical paradise when someone had been wronged. The show lasted eight seasons and made Selleck a Hollywood A-lister, but the Ferrari he drove (which was owned by the estate’s mysterious famed author named Robin Masters who only appeared in the series by phone and was never seen) should have held a credit as one of the stars!
Introduced to the public at the 1975 Paris Auto Show as a two-seat hardtop coupe (GTB), the car featured a tube frame with independent suspension front and rear, four-wheel disc brakes with power coming from a naturally aspirated 2.9L mid-mounted V8 engine that featured four twin-choke Weber carbs. Power was transmitted through a five-speed manual transaxle to a limited slip differential. Ferrari had turned the car’s design over the Pininfarina designer Leonardo Fioravanti, who had already designed several previous Ferrari classics, and this car quickly joined those models in popularity. The initial 808 308 GTB’s had fiberglass bodies but from that point all 308’s were steel bodies until production closed in 1985.
Ferrari introduced the legendary 308 GTS, often known as the Magnum P.I. car, at the Frankfort Motor Show in 1977. Pininfarina has modified the 308 hardtop into a targa-roofed which gave the car a unique appearance at a time in history when most manufacturers were moving away from true convertibles and the car received a warm welcome, particularly a few years down the road when one became a focal point in the television series.
Throughout the 10-year production run, the 308 evolved with the times and kept up with advances in technology, adding innovations to keep the platform up to date. Bosch fuel injection replaced the Weber carbs for the 1980 model year and an electronic ignition system became standard at the same time. One standard that remained throughout the production run was the size of the engine (2.9L) and the gated five-speed manual transaxle. Fuel injected models became known officially as the 308 GTBi and the 308GTSi.
Possibly the biggest change in the 308 family came with the last generation of the model. In 1982 Ferrari introduced 308 models at the Paris Auto Show that had new cylinder heads on the 2.9L powerplant with four valves per cylinder. These cars were called “Quatrovalvole”, literally meaning four valve in Italian. The multi-valve heads brought back most of the performance that had been lost in previous incarnations due largely to meeting increasingly stringent US emissions standards. These new models also had a significantly updated interior with some of the gauges relocated to the console and previously optional 16-inch wheels became standard, now wrapped in Pirelli rubber.
While serving to introduce the American general public to the legendary Italian sports car marque, the Magnum P.I. series actually featured three different Rossa Corsa red cars during the eight-seasons run. A 1979 GTS was used in season one, with a 1981 GTSi featured in seasons two through six. The final two years, seasons seven and eight, used a 1984 308 GTSi Quattrovalole. That is the same year and model offered here. All of the red cars in the show carried the personalized license plate “Robin 1”. The thirteenth episode of the sixth season also featured a rare green 1981 Ferrari 308 GTSi supplied for Master’s nephew “R.J.” that carried the personalized plate “Robin 23”.
While this car does not have a connection to the legendary CBS television show, it is not lacking in celebrity provenance! Prior to purchase by the present owner in September 2008, this vehicle was owned by comedian and actor Yakov Smirnoff! Smirnoff emigrated to the United States from the Ukraine, then a part of the Soviet Union, with his parents in 1977. An art teacher in his native land, he had dabbled in comedy there and while working as a bartender in New York he began working on his comic persona as a very naïve Russian immigrant (which he essentially was). He saved enough money to make a move to Los Angeles, where he became a regular performer at the Legendary Comedy Store.
Those appearances led to guest spots on NBC’s Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and a few small roles in movies and television. Soon he was co-starring in movies with such talent as Robin Williams and starred in a network television sitcom titled after his catch phrase, “What A Country” for two seasons. After meeting President Ronald Reagan, he became an “unofficial” member of his speechwriting team when matters involved Russia and the Soviet Union. He also appeared in some high-profile commercials for Miller Lite.
Smirnoff’s popularity on a national scale started to wane in the early 90’s with the fall of the Soviet Union and the lessened threat of communism. He purchased a 2,000-seat theater in the Missouri Ozarks entertainment mecca of Branson and performed there year-round through 2015 when he returned to a worldwide touring schedule. He still performs limited dates annually at his Branson theater.
While performing in Branson, Smirnoff earned a Master’s degree in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and taught classes at Missouri State University and Drury University in Springfield. In 2019 he was awarded his doctorate in psychology and global leadership from Pepperdine University. In addition to his entertainment career, he is a published author and accomplished painter.
This unrestored 1984 Ferrari 308 GTSi Quattrovalvole presents as an excellent example of an iconic Italian sports car that has been driven and enjoyed. The odometer shows just over 36,000 miles and the vehicle shows the slight signs of age that one would expect from an origional car of this era with a very few blemishes on the interior and some minor paint chipping on the exterior. The 2.9L mid-mount V8 has a distinctive rumble with a crisp throttle response and the gated five-speed manual transmission shifts smoothly through the gears, making it a fun car to drive. The car has the factory tool kit, factory manuals and some service records. The vehicle has been in the ownership of the present investor/collector since 2008 and stored in a humidity-controlled environment during that time.
Evergreen Digital Showroom offers this unique Ferrari with established celebrity provenance for $99,000 USD. This would make a great cornerstone for someone wishing to start a collection of celebrity-owned vehicles or a tremendous addition to an existing portfolio. To discuss this car or any other vehicle we have listed, contact sales manager Steve Russell at 417-532-8000.
The vehicles offered by Evergreen Digital Showroom have been in long-time static display, in some cases for many years. All vehicles are offered in as-is, where-is condition and no warranty is expressed or implied. We make every attempt to disclose any known issues or defects with our vehicles but encourage you to engage the services of an independent party for an inspection. As we are a licensed Missouri automobile dealer, these vehicles are sold "mileage exempt" in accordance with state statutes regarding vehicle age. Evergreen Digital Showroom will gladly provide any documents needed in the event a buyer is financing the purchase and will also work with any shipper of the buyer's choice.