The Ferrari 330 GTC: A lifestyle coupe from the lifestyle era

Photography by Don Weberg

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the January 2008 issue of Classic Motorsports.]

Story by Don Weberg

Style seemed to rule the 1960s. Living revolved around the concept; scour the pages of any popular magazine of the day, and you’ll find advertising and articles dictating through nearly subliminal suggestion that readers adopt a life full of verve. Playboy might be one of the best examples. 

Pop in a film from the era and chances are you’ll find even more details about the best ways to live. Of course, a lot of the trends were spillovers from the decade prior, but no matter. 

The point is that some of the best-looking and most elegant cars ever produced were built during the 1960s. Case in point, this 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC

Four-Wheeled Time Warp

Dave Steel, who hails from Temecula, California, is a true car guy. Dave is the keeper of a variety of machines from around the globe and loves driving each of them pretty much on a weekly basis. One of his standouts is this 330 GTC.

So pristine is his example that inside its cockpit you can actually smell 1967. It’s seemingly as perfect as it was the day it rolled off the showroom floor. Even the air blows cold, and it kept us relatively comfortable in the heat of the California desert.

“It’s such a myth that the air is worthless in these cars,” he explains. “It’s all a matter of maintenance and patience. But once you get it right, it’s right.”

Slipping into the car is easy, with a graciously proportioned cabin that allows occupants to move comfortably without banging elbows or other appendages. The fat bucket seats provide ample support, letting the body relax as the car moves out with authority. All eyes are instantly attracted to a dashboard decorated with wood veneers, a gorgeous wooden wheel, and touches of gleaming chrome sparkling behind the black trim of expansively large gauges and appointments. 

Plenty of leg, head and shoulder room can be found, as the 330 GTC is a reminder that Ferrari makes more than just sports cars—although all of their creations possess some sporting DNA. Signing that to truth, the 4-liter, twin-cam V12 springs to life with a gentle but influential growl that stands hairs on end, tingles the spine, and forces a subconscious grin. Upon hearing that sound, you know this isn’t just a car. It’s rolling art, a self-powered engineering marvel, and an absolute blast to be in. 

Cool Cruiser

Once on the road, the big coupe cruises with the cool calm reserved for Lincolns, Cadillacs and Imperials, but this one also packs a wicked 300-horsepower punch aptly controlled by a taut suspension and a magical five-speed transmission.

As the nearly 2900-pound car accelerates, the road hum, wind noise and mechanical symphony rise in pitch and volume, lending the feeling that this car could continue to climb in speed indefinitely. Trees, posts, fences, other cars and anything else out the windows whisk by as if it has all melded into one continuous blur. 

Within seven seconds, 60 mph has come and gone, and in about 14 the car has covered a quarter-mile. With third gear comes more speed, the engine wails a little louder under the long hood as the exhaust bellows, and excitement builds—and it’s about then that it hits you. 

Suddenly, it’s not about the speed, the brisk and purposeful pace at which the car is approaching 100 mph, but rather a more sobering point of fascination when you wonder, “What’s wrong?” This unease comes from the strange fact that rougher roads don’t rattle the body or spoil the ride. 

In fact, the 330 feels almost Lexus-like in its poise and stability. The perfectly balanced suspension and chubby tires create a supple yet controlled ride that can catch passengers off-guard. 

The balance, smooth ride and sure-footedness of the GTC create a rare blend. In a car this age, it’s a seemingly impossible mix, and certainly not one the luxobarges could hope to achieve. The 330 remains controlled and exceedingly fast, even when rounding bends that seem like they should send the Ferrari spiraling into a tail spin off the asphalt.

“It’s breathtaking, isn’t it?” Dave asks with a sly grin on his face. Out the window, our speed creates a blur of the vineyards of outer Temecula. With the speedo pointing somewhere slightly south of 90, the 330 GTC powers out of an otherwise serious curve.

How’d They Do That?

Part of the magic behind this Ferrari has to do with the weight balance, which is nearly 50/50 thanks to a rear-mounted transmission. In town, the 330 GTC isn’t exactly a docile machine, but it doesn’t require a great deal of effort—just some understanding between car and driver. However, one factor that requires attention is keeping the revs up to maintain good brake pressure. 

“The brake pedal can go to the floor if you don’t keep the pressure up,” Dave says. In a way, it’s like showing off the song of the V12, but there is a staid purpose behind the growl.

Many owners of V12 Ferraris—and those with 330 GTC models in particular—have complained that the engines are prone to vapor lock and hard starts during hot weather. Dave says that the cure is easy: “Use the auxiliary fuel pump, and you get a stream of fresh fuel from the tank into the engine, and it fires up.” It’s a trick that worked a couple of times for us as the warm day challenged the car.

Perhaps the Ultimate GT

The lineage of the 330 GTC is reasonably easy to follow. It began with the 1960 release of the 250 GT 2+2 that gave way to the 330 America in 1963. The 330 America only lasted for about a year, although its spot in the Ferrari lineup was eventually replaced by the 330 GTC.

The basic thought behind this GT program had to do with the concept of selling more cars to a broader audience of people—not just the sports car aficionados, but rather people who might buy a Mercedes, Maserati or other larger, more posh coupe. 

While the 330 GTC wasn’t the first of its kind from Ferrari, it was a way of introducing a more mature audience to the Prancing Horse marque. It also served to refrain those customers who had enjoyed Ferrari sports cars in years prior, but longed for something a little more refined in their later years. 

The 330 GTC could be used for some tremendously long journeys. Its excess power makes it easy to clear mountain passes and minimizes the time between Points A and B. Its size allows for a full set of luggage and a passenger. Some sources state that this car could cruise at 130 mph all day long and not break a sweat, all while providing a tremendous level of comfort to the passengers. 

It could be said that it was the private jet for those who didn’t want the expense of an aircraft. In short, it made it easy to travel in style.

“I think it would be fair to say that the 330 is yesterday’s equivalent to the 575 M or 599 GTB of today,” Dave reasons. 

The GTC was introduced in March of 1966 at the Geneva Motor Salon: Ferrari followed it with a gorgeous droptop GTS that April in Paris. While neither was exactly a showstopper, they were both newer ideas from Ferrari that the public truly liked. Captains of industry, film moguls, wine makers and trust fund babies alike placed orders for the handsome, if not sedate, 330.

Despite the terrific idea behind these GT cars, all were produced in extremely limited numbers, partly because of their extraordinary entry price for the time—around $14,000. Roughly 600 330 GTC and 100 330 GTS examples were built between 1966 and 1968, when production was ceased to make way for the 365 models. Interestingly, however, the 330 holds a special place in the hearts of many Ferrari aficionados around the globe, some claiming it was the most refined of the classic 2+2 GT cars from Ferrari.

“These are very special cars,” Dave says. “They truly drive more like a docile sports car but ride so much better. The V12, which evolved from the Colombo V12 series, is a fabulously robust engine, very powerful and yet exceptionally smooth.”

The smooth style doesn’t stop at the engine and chassis, though; the entire car is a thoroughbred of cool. Maybe it’s got something to do with the era of style from which it came.

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Pokitren
Pokitren None
6/30/22 3:44 a.m.

Hi, I'd like to ask. Does this style exist in modern cars or is it already for cars from the 1960s?

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