The Magnum PI Ferrari Might be the Most Iconic Ferrari of All Time


The Magnum PI Ferrari is possibly one of the coolest Ferrari models ever made. It’s not the most expensive. It’s not the fastest. But it was driven by one of the coolest characters to ever star in a T.V. series. For nearly eight years, Tom Selleck, as the private investigator Thomas Magnum, sped through Hawaii, driving the Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole, fighting crime, and doing it in remarkable style.

The T.V. show Magnum P.I. ran from 1980 to 1988 and was consistently one of the top twenty television programs in the U.S. Tom Selleck played a private investigator living in the guest house of a beachfront estate called ‘Robin’s Nest.’ Of course, any Hawaiian beachfront estate must have a Ferrari in the garage somewhere, and Thomas Magnum was sure to drive the car wherever his crime-fighting took him.

The Star of the Show

The car just happened to be a huge part of the show. You could even make an argument that it was as prominent a figure on the show as the iconic Tom Selleck himself. Ferrari had just released the newly designed Ferrari 308 GTB a few years earlier in 1975, replacing the Dino 246 GT from the early 70s. Designed by Pininfarina’s Leonardo Fioravanti, the 308 featured fresh angles contrasting the Dino it replaced. Early models were built with fiberglass bodies, but Ferrari switched to steel after the first 700 units rolled off the line. Production numbers totaled roughly 12,000 308s produced over the nine years from 1976 to 1985. The GTS models had removable roof panels that could be stored behind the seats, making it the perfect car for a crime-fighting P.I. in Hawaii.

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Tom Selleck as Magnum PI, next to his Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole

Fans of the show will never forget the opening credits. The music to the opening theme was an enormous hit. A more extended version of the Magnum P.I. theme music was created by popular demand, and it actually peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1982. Something unheard of for a T.V. show theme song. What made the opening credits especially memorable was the Ferrari 308 GTS as a preeminent symbol in many of the scenes. Would Magnum P.I. have run for eight seasons and become a massive hit if Selleck was chasing down criminals by jumping into a Pontiac Sunbird?

Show creators used as many as five Ferrari 308s for each season while producing Magnum PI. A few of the exact Ferrari models used in the filming of the show have been sold at auction, commanding nearly double the price tag of an identical model. A 1984 Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole went for $181,500 at a Bonhams auction a few years ago.

Magnum PI Ferrari
The Magnum PI Ferrari 308 GTS QV

Magnum PI Ferrari Bonhams Sale

Auction house Bonhams offered the Ferrari 308 and said, “One could argue that this particular Ferrari 308 GTS QV is one of the most famous and iconic Ferraris of all time.” Although there are so many great Ferrari models out there, personally, I have a hard time arguing with that statement.

Bonhams continued, “Accompanying the vehicle is a wonderful history file which documents the car’s history, contains a letter from Ferrari North America certifying that this car was actually driven by Tom Selleck in the 1984-1985 shooting season of Magnum P.I., the warranty book and service receipts dating back to 1986.”

The Bonhams car has a few paint blemishes and also included an aftermarket Tubi exhaust system. The auction house remarked, “In addition to the history file, present with the car are its original tools, spare belts, and even the magnetic trouble light in its original bag. Do not miss what very well could be a once in a lifetime chance to acquire one of the world’s most loved Ferraris.”

Magnum PI Ferrari Values

As iconic as the Ferrari 308 GTS may be, it’s recent prices do not reflect it’s popularity. Hagerty values a top-rated model in excellent condition right around $100,000. Doing a search, you can find a variety of early 1980 Ferrari 308s for $60 – $80 grand. Collector car values have declined over the last few years after a massive run-up in prices from 2011 – 2016.

If you’re thinking about buying an iconic Ferrari without the giant price tag of earlier models, a 308 GTS could possibly offer a great value. If it was good enough for the best private investigator in the world, it should be good enough for you.

Magnum, P.I. Opening Theme

Estimated Values for the 1975 – 1985 Ferrari 308

Ferrari 308 values
Values for the 1975 – 1985 Ferrari 308 have declined over the last few years. Image credit – Hagerty.

Estimated Values for the Hagerty Ferrari Price Index

Ferrari price index
The Hagerty Index of Ferraris averages values of 13 most sought after street Ferraris of the 1950s – 1970s.

After experiencing it’s largest drop ever in May 2020, the Hagerty Ferrari Price Index has steadied the last few months. Hagerty tracks the values of the 13 most sought after Ferraris of the 1950s – 1970s and attempts to chart changes in values on a month to month basis. Find the entire list of all 13 Ferrari models tracked and a complete summary with expert analysis at Hagerty.com.


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Magnum PI Ferrari 308
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Thomas Magnum in his Ferrari 308
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tom selleck as magnum pi

Experience what it was like to fight crime like Magnum PI in the Ferrari 308