Mon 8 Mar 2010
For ever known as the Daytona, the 365GTB4 was Ferrari’s final fling for the front engined two seater; four seaters would continue with front mounted engines, but two seater sports Ferraris would be mid engined after this. But what a finale. It was a bold statement of sheer power and shameless aggression, from sharp front end to the wide fastback that had lost any semblance of its predecessor’s narrow cabin, inset from a curvaceous waist line.
It was a big car too, heavy and bulky, but a muscle car designed to appeal to the American market; its performance and maximum speed would leave all of those and the Europeans standing, it was king of the road in its day. Its predecessor had been the 275 GTB4.
The 250 GT series, running from 1954-64, had marked the transition from race cars adapted for the road to purpose built road cars; the 275s were the first Ferraris to be designed and developed from the outset as road cars. As ever, the type number referred to the capacity of a single cylinder; last of the original small-block engines, the 275 was a V12 3.3 liter mounted in the front. Unlike previous road cars, it had the gearbox, now with five speeds, mounted in the rear – a transaxle – to keep the weight distribution more even. The chassis followed the familiar tubular frame and had independent rear suspension.
Announced at the 1964 Paris Show it was available in two body forms, the open 275 GTS and the coupe 275 GTB with 250-275 bhp. It was at the 1966 Paris Show that the final version was launched, the 275 GTB4 for four overhead cam shafts, two per bank six cylinder; with 300 bhp at 8000 rpm it would run to 160 mph. it was a fast and agile car with an almost comfortable ride.
But while the 4-cam was launched in October 1966, extending the life of the 275, the new 330 range had been presented in March of the year. With the traditional V-12 single cam stretched with a new longer block, the 330 bhp 4 liter was used to power the 330 GTC and GTS. The chassis remained similar to that of the 275, but the drive-line incorporated a torque tube. The new body style featured a lower waistline with deeper windows, a notchback tail treatment and an oval grille more reminiscent of the superamerica series.
The same engine had been used in the mid-engined sports racing 330P in 1964; the factory continued to develop the 4 liter engine but produced a 4.4 liter 365P for the non works teams for 1965. The ultimate factory development came with the 1967 330P4 which had twin cams per bank with each cylinder having three valves and twin plugs fuel injection to generate 450 bhp at 8200 rpm; privateers made do with 380 bhp at 7300 rpm with carburetters and single cam 365s. Ferrari won the world championship three times in those four years, including victory at Daytona for the 330P and 330P4.
First production car to use the 4.4 liter single-cam V-12 was the 365 GT 2+2, an extremely elegant Pininfarina stretch of the 330 GTC with an extra 25 cm in the wheelbase but 58 cm more in overall length to provide more luggage space as well as the extra seats; it also had self-leveling rear suspension. The 330 GTC and GTS had to wait until late 1968 to be uprated to 365-series.