Believe it or not, there’s still an underrated ’60s Ferrari
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One of the most consistent things about collections of vintage Ferraris is that they all seem to include a 330 or 365 GTC. Not only that, collectors often explain that their GTC is among the favorite Ferraris they own and that they drive it more frequently than any other. Granted, there aren’t a lot of humans with the experience (and the means) to make comparative judgments like these, but there’s surprisingly strong consensus among them: The GTC is where it’s at.
To the casual enthusiast, however, the appeal is less obvious. Against the iconic 365 GTB/4 Daytona at a similar price point, or a 275 GTB at a not-at-all similar price point, the 330 GTC is a bit … subdued, particularly visually. And it was something of an evolutionary dead-end as well: Debuting in 1966, the GTC lasted just five model years and was never replaced. So what do the folks who most frequently interact with these cars know that the rest of us don’t?
Ferrari’s redundant department of redundancy
Before we get to that, let’s start with what the GTC is—and isn’t. The 330 GTC is a front-engined, two-seat, V-12-powered Ferrari, an iconic layout that mercifully still survives today. It’s a formula that Ferrari used in its very first car and has continued since, aside from a two-decade, mid-engined, horizontally opposed hiatus in the form of the BB and Testarossa.
The GTC is not, however, the direct predecessor of the two-seat V-12 Ferraris of the last 25 years: the Maranello, 599, f12, and 812. This is because, for the entire duration of the GTC’s production, a buyer had a choice of two front-engined two-seat V-12 Ferraris—initially between the GTC or the 275 GTB, or from 1968 on, between the GTC and the 365 GTB/4 Daytona. The proportions and performance focus of the 275 GTB and 365 GTB/4 Daytona mean that they are the true forebears of more modern front-engined two-seat V-12 Ferraris.
The apparent overlap between Ferrari V-12 models in the late ’60s seems even more redundant given that the prices of these cars were within ten percent of one another. Ferrari’s management seemed to agree. The GTC was a new model when it was introduced in 1966, and by the time it had run its course in 1970, Ferrari decided not to make a subsequent generation or successor, nor have they done so since.
A Ferrari that meant business
So far, this may not seem like a recipe for an instant collectible, but the intrinsic strengths of the 330 and 365 GTC are numerous and very appealing. Understanding that appeal requires a quick survey of Ferrari’s evolution up to the 1960s, and its offerings prior to the GTC.
The company constructed a grand total of three cars in 1947, its founding year. Production exceeded 50 cars for the first time in 1953, split between the racing cars that Enzo Ferrari loved and the road cars he sold in order to fund the former. By 1954, the Ferrari 250 had appeared and Pinin Farina was the default designer and coachbuilder for Ferrari’s road cars. The proliferation of coachbuilt Ferraris that characterized the company’s first few years was largely replaced by a standard catalog of 250 models for the street, starting with the Europa, then the Boano/Ellena, followed by the Pinin Farina Coupe, and ultimately the Lusso.
Racing variants of the 250 were developed alongside their road-going siblings, with the open sports cars (250 Testa Rossa, for example) being the lightest and most technically sophisticated. The slightly more livable GT cars (chronologically: 250 Mille Miglia, Tour de France, SWB, and GTO) were still potent and at least offered a trunk and a roof. At the end of the 250’s life, it was possible to buy it as a focused GT-class race car (the GTO) or for the street in the form of the 250 Lusso. While this word means luxury in Italian, Ferrari’s threshold for opulence in the Lusso stood merely at ensuring its occupants did not go deaf while driving. Indeed, its use of a 4-speed gearbox and live rear end at the then-quickly-evolving top of the market were just two characteristics calling for change.
The 1964 introduction of the 250’s replacement, the 275 GTB, marked one of the biggest technical leaps yet to occur in Ferrari road cars. Independent rear suspension and a rear-mounted 5-speed transaxle (which introduced the iconic gated shifter to Ferrari road pilots for the first time), brought Ferrari road cars properly into the 1960s. While we tend to think of the 275 GTB as a road car today, Ferrari took it racing in the GT class and it was quite effective: 275s won their class at Le Mans in 1965, 1966, and 1967.
The dual-purpose nature of the 275 GTB meant that it effectively replaced two different models: the GTO and the Lusso. The 275 GTB’s racy character left what Ferrari perceived as a gap in its road car offerings, and it was this gap that the 330 GTC sought to fill when it was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March of 1966, incidentally the same show at which the completed Lamborghini Miura appeared for the first time.
From underneath, the 330 GTC looks a lot like the 275 GTB: the chassis and suspension design are effectively the same, using dual wishbones at both ends. The rear-mounted 5-speed transaxle came over as well, joined to the engine via a rigid torque tube as on the later 275 GTBs.
The two primary differences between the 275 GTB and the 330 GTC are the body and the engine. In place of the rakish 275 bodywork, which truly brought Ferrari’s race car ethos to the street, is a more upright look that offers superior visibility, luggage capacity, and an understated elegance which gives the car a more grown-up feel. If a 275 GTB was piloted by a playboy in the 1960s, then a 330 GTC was driven by a businessman.
The differences in the engines mirror this. The 330 GTC is powered by a single-overhead cam 4.0-liter development of the Colombo V-12 which was also used in the 250 (3.0 liters) and early 275 (3.3 liters). The 4.0-liter version first appeared a few years earlier to power Ferrari’s larger and more luxurious 2+2 models. Fitting for the GTC’s role in the Ferrari lineup, the engine makes its power and torque peaks at lower rpm, although with 300 horsepower at 7000 rpm and 240 ft-lbs of torque at 5000 rpm, it’s still a rather spicy unit compared to a conventional car. The engine in the 275 GTB was even more extreme, however. Despite its lower displacement, it made 280 horsepower at 7600 rpm and 216 ft-lbs of torque at 5500 rpm. Or, with the twin cam heads of the 275 GTB/4, it produced the same 300 horsepower of the 330 GTC at 8000 rpm and 231 ft-lbs of torque at 6050 rpm, also around 1,000 RPM higher than the torque peak of the 330 GTC.
In 1968, the 330 GTC evolved to become the 365 GTC. It traded front fender vents for a more discreet pair of vents atop the hood and gained a pair of defroster outlets atop the dashboard. The engine grew to 4.4 liters and power increased to 320 hp, arriving 400 rpm sooner at 6600 while torque increased 27 ft-lbs to 267, at the same 5000 rpm as the 330.
The net result of these differences is that the 330 and 365 GTC still feel like Ferraris, but have a more friendly, flexible character than the 275 GTB, making them more enjoyable to drive when doing anything short of hauling the absolute mail. Its comparatively subtle looks draw the driver who wants the experience of driving a vintage Ferrari but doesn’t want everyone to know it, and as a result, it’s a connoisseur’s car. These are the exact characteristics that cause Ferrari collectors to drive their GTCs more than their other vintage Ferraris.
Cynics will view the 330 GTC as a parts bin special because it combines the chassis of an existing model (the 275 GTB) with the engine of a different existing model (the 330 GT 2+2), while a modern product planner might admire the efficiency of creating a car that is meaningfully different from its stablemates at minimal incremental cost. This latter perspective is true to some extent since it increased Ferrari’s sales volume significantly. Despite their not-immediately-obvious mission, the 330 and 365 GTC sold well: 766 units, nearly the same as the 275 GTB’s 784 over the same duration.
The production run of the 365 GTB/4 Daytona lasted a year longer, running from 1968 to 1973, but 500 more were produced: 1,284 examples. Its striking looks and stonking performance made it the high-profile object of desire for an entire generation of Ferrari enthusiasts, but it lacks the delicacy and usability of the GTC, especially on account of its often-criticized heavy low-speed steering.
Values of these various models over the last two decades show an interesting trend. While the relationship between the prices of the GTC and 275 GTB has fluctuated more or less at random during this period (with the 275 being worth four to five times as much as a GTC throughout), GTC values have strengthened against those of Daytonas. The looks of the Daytona are more rakish, but 67 percent more were built and they are more work to drive. So while 59 percent more money was needed to buy a great Daytona than a great GTC in 2006 ($318,000 instead of $200,000, per the Hagerty Price Guide), GTCs (330 and 365 together) were actually worth more than Daytonas a decade ago. Today, their values are more or less identical. These value trends suggest that today’s buyers are sophisticated enough to value the strengths of the GTC at least as much as they value the more splashy appeal of the Daytona.
In many respects these cars reflect a very different era in Ferrari’s history. The GTC occupied a gap between the race-car-for-the-road 275 GTB and the larger 2+2 models, which still employed a live rear end and a conventional transmission instead of a transaxle at the time. This changed with the introduction of a pair of four-cam 365s. The 365 GTB/4 Daytona finally had a torquey, tractable engine that didn’t need huge revs just to cruise about, while the 1971 introduction of the 365 GTC/4 brought a four-cam engine and independent rear suspension to a four-seat Ferrari for the first time. This newfound sophistication obviated the need for the GTC. This effectively ended a unique and thoroughly enjoyable period in Ferrari’s history, one which today’s buyers are properly revering, even if that wasn’t always the case in the past.
Derek Tam-Scott is a used car salesman and car content grump.
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There are still a number of orphan Ferraris out there that are still someone cheap and worth more as parts. Often they have a needed engine for a more expensive model and the car it is in is not worth much as it is.
I have seen web sites in England where these rusted out cars are junk but they are parted for good money.
Nice to see Hyphen’s words in print. His level of detail is appreciated in the podcast and here.
Ditto that! Not only is a great to see his written contributions to this site, this was a most excellent explainer – I legit learned something today!
Excellent explanation of Ferrari product planning, circa 1964-73.
Love the understated style of the GTC.
Can I share an embarrassing related anecdote?
When I see the engine specs, with the high revs required to generate useful torque, I am reminded why I was underwhelmed when I got to test drive a 275 GTB/4, and then a 330GTC, at the tender age of 17, out with Dear Dad car shopping.
The sum total of my driving experience, at that point, was in a Lotus 7/BMC and a 427 Corvette (No P/S or A/C!), so getting underway quickly up to 60MPH was no problem.
Then these two beautiful Ferraris?
What a shame to be “disappointed” at that tender age.
Can you arrange a do-over??
Hyphen too now. Great writing man.
I’ll take one! The Silver is sharp, but I gotta have Red!!!
Units for torque peak are lb-ft not ft-lbs.
I grew up with ft-lbs and was quite delighted to see the term used in this writing.
Both are correct.
Re: “The 330 GTC is a front-engined, two-seat, V-12-powered Ferrari, an iconic layout that mercifully still survives today. It’s a formula that Ferrari used in its very first car and has continued since, aside from a two-decade, mid-engined, horizontally opposed hiatus in the form of the BB and Testarossa.” Help me out, Ferraristi. For some reason I thought the very first cars with a Ferrari badge had four cylinder engines somewhat similar to the Offenhauser engines that dominated American open wheel racing in the late 1940’s.
Here’s the four cylinder Ferrari I was thinking of.
It wasn’t built until later. Production started in 1961.
The four cylinder Ferrari engine I was originally trying to think of was the Lampredi designed four cylinder engine which Ferrari started using in some of its race cars early on, starting in 1953. Well I’ve beat this dead horse enough.
I watch Derek & Jason’s talk on their youtube carmudgeon podcast about Ferrari when this article popped up for the second time. Both are full of good info.
Beautiful road race cars. Not like the cartoonish later cars that the ‘stars’ bought to ‘impress’. The later cars were better handling and made more power, but in my opinion, the styling could not compare with the earlier models.
I would think that “underrated” meant “underpriced”, but, you know, a nice GTC is still hundred’s of thousands of $$$. GTCs are wonderful cars, as are all of the V12 Ferraris. The last bargain Ferraris were the 250 2+2s of the early 60s and 330s of the late 60s (I had a friend in high school who had a new one), selling for around $4000 in the mid 70s to early 80s. Now, they are hundred thousand dollar cars in nice shape. In the early 70s, a Lusso was $4500 in good shape, while a drivable 250 PF cabriolet (with a removable hard top) was around $2500 (when all the aerospace engineers lost their jobs). At that time, I bought a new Alfa Berlina for just under $4000, delivered, at $100/mo for 36 months… All the money in the world at that time for a 21 year old just starting out. Today, all the Ferraris are desirable, and expensive. Columbo V12s in 250, 275 and 330 and 365 are all coveted, no matter the Ferrari coachwork in which they are enveloped. Even the more competitively priced GTC/4 and 456 have become very, very expensive if properly maintained and in excellent condition. It just depends on whether you like a couple of seats for your kids, or not. What’s $50K difference in price once the total is over $180K to start with? Nobody is going to strip off a body of a 250 2+2 anymore to make a fake GTO or TR. Too valuable, even as a dowdy 4 seater with unfortunate quad headlights.
Ho hum, yet another story about cars that 99.99% of us cannot afford.
Come on, us common folk would rather see articles about more attainable classics.
If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Treat it like Playboy. Ignore the words and look at the pretty pictures.
It is quite obvious Derek missed the importance the 330 GTC completely.
This model was supposed to be released by Ferrari as a 275 GTC to slot between the 275 GTB and 275 GTS. However, Enzo Ferrari realized that customers were requesting a new sporty model that offers the performance that Ferrari became known for, while offering creature comfort that allowed them to enjoy the ride. So, Ferrari decided to launch the new model with the bigger and torquier engine from the 330. The new 330 GTC is hence a consequential model that was manufactured when Ferrari agreed to cater to his customers’ wishes. It marked a historic delineation between the race cars disguised as road cars, such as the 275 GTB and the grand touring cars that were equipped with creature comfort for long journeys. Thus the 330 GTC, unlike Derek mentions, was the inspiration Ferrari needed to enlarge its product range and offer customer cars properly equipped for the road.
The only feature from the 330 GTC that is not found in modern Ferrari is the single overhead camshaft engine. The 365 GTC being the last model so equipped from Maranello. Even though the 365 GTB/4 (Daytona) specifications were head and shoulder over the 365 GTC, this model was quicker from 0 to 60mph than a US delivered Daytona.
The advent of the 330 GTC was a pivotal moment in the history of this fabled marque and has influenced front engine models, unlike what Derek seems to convey.
The 330 GTC has a strong following today, because of the winning formula that Ferrari created.
Of course, this write-up comes across a bit biased towards the 330 GTC. I spent 10 years researching this model and I am about to launch a dedicated book on it that comes out this spring.
I strongly suggest driving both the 275 GTB and 330 GTC to judge for yourself. I encourage you to pick up sign language before the 275 GTB drive as you will need it for a few days afterwards and hope you do not end up with Tinnitus.
The 330 GTC is a seminal design that has left its indelible mark on the Ferrari product range. In spite of the stiff opposition such as the Lamborghini Miura and Maserati Ghibli that were launched in 1966, the Ferrari 330 GTC and its siblings sold very well worldwide to discerning customers.