History originally published in AutoWeek December 21, 1987
In the early autumn when the wind begins to blow and the leaves began to scurry before the blast, the sky becomes a crystal and the sun a blazing gem. The stallions dance before the change, the season’s on the run, and the Ferrari is a Ruby, an Italian red, red ruby of steel and sweat and lust.
Special is a word for the 1966 Ferrari 330 GTC. It came from an era when Ferrari grand touring cars were coming into their own. The separation between racing and road cars was complete, and touring cars no longer suffered under the compromises imposed by competition siblings. The Ferrari 330 GTC was introduced at the March 1966 Geneva Auto Show and was an evolution of the earlier four seat 330GT, which would henceforth be known as the 330GT 2+2. It used the chassis of the 275 GTB and the 4.0-liter 330 sohc engine. The body was designed by Pininfarina and borrowed the front end from his earlier Ferrari 400 Superamerica and the rear from the 275 GTS. One might expect such a committee of parts to produce an awkward whole but, in the case of the 330 GTC, one would be wrong.
The shape is classic. The nose is drawn into an oval opening containing the traditional Ferrari egg-crate grille, the headlights set into scoops in the fenders. Behind either front wheel opening are engine air exhaust vents, and a subtle crease sweeps rearward to become the top edge of the trunk lip, defining the car’s profile and providing character to what would otherwise be a rather plain flank. The cabin is light, with only the slimmest of A and C-pillars. The design has aged well, still looking handsome and not outdated at 20 years old.
The chassis of the 330 GTC is Ferrari Traditional: ladder-type welded steel tubes. Suspension is fully-independent, with unequal-length A-arms and coil springs front and rear. Power from the V-12 is delivered to a transaxle via a torque tube. The engine itself is a Colombo-based 60-degree V-12 displacing 3967cc. With three downdraft Webers and a hardly radical compression ratio of 8.8:1, it produces some 300 horsepower at 7000 rpm, according to the factory. Fitted with original-spec 205-14 tires front and rear, the coupe is capable of turning the quarter mile in just under15 seconds at 95 mph. Zero to 100 mph takes 17.1 seconds and top speed is around 145 mph.
It is without a doubt a capable performer. One expects that of a Ferrari. However, anyone so fortunate as to hear the howl of a 275 GTB from the inside, you might be unprepared for a ride inside the Ferrari 330 GTC. And that is partly the result of perfection of the car’s condition.
The 330 GT see pictured on this page is #8935, owned by Donovan K. Leyden and is perhaps one of the most original GTC in existence. Leyden bought the car in 1985 from 11-year-owner Dr. Richard Mohr who, with the help of Bill Parro, maintained the car meticulously, even to the point of keeping the original hose clamps. But Leyden, a self-confessed perfectionist, has since had the car thoroughly refurbished (mechanicals by Bryant Amiss, cosmetics and paint by Joe Schiavone, much of the detailing by himself).
What is remarkable, however is that the car still has its original mufflers. And amazingly, they work . Too well, in fact. Hardly any of the fabulous V-12 exhaust noise is released into the atmosphere (remember, of course, that we’re comparing this to a 275 GTB) and in the cabin the predominant sounds are mechanical: the happy buzzing of two dozen rocker arms on a brace of camshafts, pistons going up and down and the driveshaft spinning around. With the faintest of intake drone and just a hint of exhaust, it’s an internal combustion opera to make Verdi weep. Pianissimo, to be sure, but no less appassionato.
It makes, says Leyden, an excellent interstate car, capable of cruising all day, effortlessly and silently at 80 to 90 mph. It’s no less competent on roads of the two lane variety. The driving position is comfortable, despite the primitive but original seat belts. The steering wheel is reasonably vertical and the pedals not at all too close. The shifter is gated, and despite that it must remotely activate the transaxle, the action is precise and easy. It is possible to beat the synchros into second gear—this is a Ferrari—but if one restrains the Garlits impulse, the gearbox is a paragon of smoothness.
Acceleration is revealed in the numbers already given, and they feel as good going down as they look reading them. The V-12 pulls with a smooth, constant urge that build as the needle sweeps towards redline. Shift and it happens all over again. Wind it out all the way and first is good to almost 50 mph, second to 70 and third, you’re almost to 100.
At slower speeds the Ferrari 330 GTC feels slightly heavy and bigger than it really is (it looks larger in photos than it does in real life), but pick up the pace and the coupe shrinks around you. The suspension is actually quite soft and absorbs pavement irregularities with aplomb. There is a tendency, however, towards leaning in the corners that is disconcerting at first and feels as though the tail is loose, but one soon learns that the car will go so far and then take a set. It takes some getting used to—but who will complain about taking lessons like those? Once acclimated, the driver can take the Ferrari 330 GTC around sweepers like a carousel horse around a merry-go-round and can dig out of kinks like an angry wolverine.
Brakes are 11-inch discs at all four wheels and require only the gentlest touch to scrub off speed. The pedals are positioned perfectly for heel-and-toeing, but the soft-touch brake pedal will have most Ferrari 330 GTC neophytes overapplying the pedals when approaching slow corners and they try to simultaneously brake and downshift. Again, the poor 330GTC driver will just be forced to put in time at the wheel to learn the knack.
But just as winter follows autumn, every model’s lease on life expires. The Ferrari 330 GTC, along with a spider version called the 330 GTS, was produced from 1966 to 1968. About 600 of the 330 GTCs had been built when the factory stretched the Colombo V-12 yet once more to 4.4 liters, creating the Ferrari 365 GTC in the process.
The days grow shorter in the fall, more urgent and more intense. Rubystone glistens in the autumn sun, silent howling tells what has been, and what is yet to be.