What Car Does Magnum PI Drive? Discover the Ferrari 308

June 2, 2024

The Ferrari 308 became an iconic vehicle largely due to its featured role in the 1980s TV series Magnum P.I., starring Tom Selleck. The show contributed significantly to the mystique and desire for Ferraris starting in the 80s, with casual admirers still referring to the Ferrari 308 and its descendant, the 328, as "the Magnum P.I. car."

Types of Ferrari 308 Used

The show featured three distinct types of Ferrari 308 over its run:

  • 1979 308 GTS
  • 1981 308 GTSi
  • 1984 308 GTS QV

Between 3-5 examples of each model were used during filming, with different cars designated for different types of shots (e.g., pristine cars for close-ups, less cared-for cars for action scenes and stunts).

"Ferrari 308" by dave_7 is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/.

Modifications for Filming

Modifications were made to accommodate Tom Selleck’s large stature:

  • Padding was removed from the seats to lower his sitting position.
  • The seat was bolted in the furthest back position possible to provide maximum room.
  • Tom Selleck was rarely, if ever, seen driving the car with the roof on.

Serial Numbers and Specific Cars

Specific serial numbers of the cars used in the series were mentioned:

  • 1979 308 GTS: Serial Number #29109
  • 1981 308 GTSi: Serial Number #34567
  • 1984 308 GTS QV: Serial Number #57685

"Ferrari 308 GTS" by @CarShowShooter is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/.

Behind-the-Scenes Insights

In a 1997 interview on the Late Show with David Letterman, Tom Selleck mentioned that five different cars were used and auctioned off at the end of the series for high prices. He shared that one of the early cars had a modified racing clutch that was very stiff, resulting in close calls with the camera crew when he released the clutch.

Stunt Claims and Kit Cars

There are claims that the car used for stunts was not a real Ferrari but a kit car. Universal Studios has a 308 GTS on display, which they claim was used in the series, though multiple sources believe it to be a kit car used for stunts.

Sales and Ownership

Cars used in the series occasionally appear for sale. Larry Manetti, who played Rick "Orville" Wright, purchased one of the cars from Universal, later selling it. Serial Number #57685 was offered for sale by Algar Ferrari of Philadelphia in August 1996 for $53,000.

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