330 GT Registry
ADVENTURE ON A FERRARI
C. Norman Winningstad
This article was prompted by an editorial request for Ferrari stories. I was somewhat intimidated by all the stories being about older machines; however, I’ve been assured by our good president Sutterfield there is no discrimination on the basis of age! Besides, there’s different strokes for different folks. The way ochists own old machines, put up with out-of-production part situations where the car may take a year or more to be repaired, put up with the lack of creature comforts and refinements, and drive the car on special occasions only. Sadists drive Ferraris as a regular car, won’t put up with lack of comfort and refinement, and as a matter of necessity must drive the newer machines. I’m a sadist. I think nothing of driving down to the grocery store to pick up a load of goodies (besides enjoying the ride far more than if I had taken the station wagon, it completely blows the bag-boys mind!) Now I know this may not be in the highest tradition of the “purist”; but, think about this: is the Ferrari really a useful (though high performance) car, or is it some prized mirage of yesteryear? Maybe the good Commendatore knows what he is doing when he does not retain the old machines a La Mercedes (see Dick Merritt’s article in The Prancing Horse No. 30).
I’m a sadist in that I really enjoy letting (letting hell, he really can do it) a Corvette out drag me, and then calmly shift to fifth and watch the agonized look on his face as he’s passed while all wound out at 130 (provided his ‘vette was recently tuned). I’m a sadist because my new (then) Ferrari doesn’t load up or over-heat in traffic like my poor Jaguar friends, nor do my Webers need fiddling with (every 3000 miles I clean the spark-plugs, and every 6000 miles I replace the plugs, and I break the fingers of anyone who gets near my Webers).
How did I get this way? Well, back in the early 50’s I owned a succession of sports cars — an MG-TD, a Triumph TR-2 and then a TR-3. About then I gave up on sports cars because they were unreliable and underpowered, and besides — American cars improved, and my family needed more room. By 1967 my boys were in their own cars, and I got to thinking about sports cars again. But! I decided I needed a 2+2, so we could take another couple on a short trip. In my naive state, I scanned the literature and decided this meant a Jaguar, Porsche, or Shelby 500. A quick look quickly determined that the Jaguar and the Porsche were 2+2’s for midgets only. Out here in Portland, Oregon, Mary Tonkin has the Ford Agency on 122nd Aye, so we drove clear across town to look at a Shelby. Augh. Now Mary has a brother Ron, and being friendly rivals, Ron naturally has the Chev agency on 122nd. I heard Ron had something called an Iso Griffo, which was very new here then, and is based upon a Corvette running gear; I thought perhaps it might be a 2+2. But no, it was a 2-seater like the ‘vette. But wait! Ron Tonkin also happens to be the Ferrari dealer, and he just happens to have a 330 GT 2+2 (2+2 really). Would I like to look at it? Would I like to TRY it?
You guessed her Chester! When I found out you could get a car that would out-handle sports cars without a kidney-massage ride, would out run any standard American car and still had room for four people, and would carry a batch of luggage, I had no choice. I was hooked.
That was June of 1967. By November I had a couple of thousand miles on the car, and was properly run-in, and it had fooled my skeptical friends by staying in tune all the while. An SCCA driver friend of mine, Cris Curtin, mentioned the Stardust Gran Prix, coming on soon. Since I had always flown my ‘plane there before, I got to thinking about driving this time (850 miles by air, 1070 by car). Oregon is a little sticky about driving over 70 MPH (another Ferrari driver was ticketed for doing 180 MPH east-bound on his GTB thru Pendleton; he made two mistakes: (I) he stopped for coffee, and (2) he “admitted” 180 MPH!), but Nevada is more liberal. So we figured we could do three things: (I) Avoid having to rent a 5000 pound piece of pig iron if we flew, (2) check out the 152 MPH top speed of the 330 GT 2+2, and (3) have a great trip and watch the race in style. Besides, Cris Amon and Jonathon Williams were to be there on Ferrari P4’s, and they could use some Ferrari support.
So starting out from Portland, Friday the tenth at 2:36 PM, we began the first leg to Klamath Falls, 280 miles away, which would be our first stop, for fuel (human and Ferrari). The first 100 miles to Eugene is on a good Freeway (Interstate 5), and I held a steady 70, acquainting Cris with the car, and avoiding confrontation with the State troopers. From Eugene to Klamath Falls, we were on a good highway, but it cuts thru the Cascade Mountains, so we would find stretches where we could hit 90 safely, but we spent most of the time testing the Pirellis’ in the curves, and later, on the curves and the rain. Cris was first terrified, and then fascinated by the performance of the car. His first chance to observe the power of the car was when we pulled out and passed a truck on an uphill rainy stretch with an oncoming car in the distance; his hotted-up TR-3 would never have made it, but the Ferrari made it with no sweat (for me — for Cris, about a liter.) At 6:40 PM we pulled into K Falls, covering the 200 miles sedately at a 69 MPH average, averaging 14.5 miles per gallon through a combination of steady freeway and fast/slow mountain road.
At 7:36 PM Cris took the wheel, and very shortly had the feel of the machine. We were now in the dark, and deer were frequently seen on the roads; Cris really appreciated the fantastic head lights and disc brakes on all 4 wheels. The sure hand-foot-eyeball skill of an SCCA driver really showed up on this run. Cris pulled up to the Motel at 11:34 PM, taking 4 hours 54 minutes to cover 358 miles for an average of 73 MPH at 15.4 MPG, through the dark of unfamiliar roads. It’s a good thing he was driving, since he obtained 25.4 [15.4] MPG at 73 MPH against my 14.5 MPG at 69 MPH; he used 23.3 gallons — I would have used 24.8 — out of about 25. That’s cutting it a bit tight.
We spent the night in Sparks (just east of Reno — home of Harrah’s), and after breakfast, hit the road at 9:12 AM on Saturday the eleventh. It was my turn up, and the road to Tonopah was flat and straight for many miles. Cris had the movie camera out, and we could hardly wait for the temperature gauges to come up. Finally they stabilized at 180 degrees F. Then up to 120 MPH to feel everything out. The car is as smooth and stable there as at 60. A bit more wind noise is all. Finally we’re ready. Cris starts shooting pictures of the gauges as we hit 152 and the car is a throbbing, grinding, thrashing beast — but still that marvelous feel of absolute controllability. Only one minor trouble developed — the trunk lid popped open. But before that happened, Cris had the pictures of the needles on 152, 6400 RPM, and then a pan out the window shows the telephone poles zipping by. Up to 120 the Ferrari is unconditionally pleasant. At 130, the noise builds up; at 152 the machine is not nice, but by golly, it’s really doing it, and damned few other machines can match it. I pulled into Tonopah at 11:50, covering 233 miles in 2 hrs 38 minutes for about a 90 MPH average, obtaining 12.3 MPG.
After lunch, Cris took over, and at 12:14 we pulled out for the last leg to Las Vegas. Since we’d had our speed run, Cris decided to cruise a steady 120 MPH where safe, as this would keep the temperatures reasonable over the hot Nevada desert, at the height of heat in the afternoon. Cris discovered what 120 MPH European drivers know from many past experiences — when you see a truck way down the road coming your way, and there is a car between in your lane — plan ahead! Cris had a chance to give the Pirelli/disc combination a close-to- the-ultimate test (the reason he didn’t climb the trunk of the poor little Mercury Comet was that I was putting on the brakes too — I think it helped, anyway!)
The last 30 or so miles turned out to have a 70 MPH speed limit, which was surprising, since this stretch was a divided highway; the no-limit was not divided! Again Cris’ smoothness showed up — he pulled into Las Vegas at 2:25 PM. covering the 200 miles at an average of 95 MPH (including the 70 MPH stretch) and obtaining 12.5 MPG.
Sunday the 12th was marvelous. We drove out to the Stardust Speedway, got a marvelous position at the last turn before the start-finish-pit straight, and a fellow parked his red Miura far enough away so that our golden brown 2+2 was not out-colored. The preliminary races seemed to last forever, since they were conducted at speeds well below our cruising speed. But finally, the main event, the wind-up of the Can-Am series. The high-winged Chaparall was there, several of the McLarens, sundry Loti, but most of all, we were looking for the two red P4’s. Cris Amon and Jonathan Williams looked and sounded great. Unfortunately, the P4’s were out gunned — the Can Am is a tough race to run even with a machine especially designed for it, which the P4 was not. Amon’s skill kept him right up with the leaders until nearly the end of the race when a car spun out at our turn. You can imagine our horror when we saw Amon’s P4 smash into the other car, which had wound up in the middle of the track. The P4 spun around and caught fire briefly. Fortunately the fire went out quickly, as did Amon. Although Amon was unhurt, the Ferrari was a total wreck. William’s car had retired earlier, do it was not a good day for Ferrari; but it wasn’t good for Jim Hall’s Chaparall, nor for Bruce McLaren’s machines, who were also retired. John Sutrees won on a Lola T70 Mk 3 Traco Chevy.
With the race over, Cris Curtin and I climbed back into the 2+2 and at 4:42 PM Sunday hit the Freeway north. As we got rolling, I noted a Porsche in the rear view mirror. He managed to pass us in traffic, but out in the open we took him at 145. His 911S was pretty good, but nothing beats cubes, and we had twice the engine with less than twice the weight or cross- sectional area. He was determined to get ahead of our machine, and he had more courage than we did in traffic, so we let him go.
The trip back was essentially the trip down, except reversed, with dinner and gas at Tonopah, then gas at Reno and K Falls, and Portland at 6:20 AM on Monday. Total distance back was 1070 miles. Time on the road, 12 hrs 48 minutes for an 84 MPH average (mostly at night). Total time elapsed, 13 hrs 38 minutes for a block time average of 77 MPH. The total 2140 mile trip required only gas, oil, one fuse, and a trunk lid adjustment. In spite of driving all night, we felt pretty good at 6 AM Monday, since we could tip the passenger seat back and snooze while the other fellow drove. Que Bella Machina.
About the only thing that makes this a “good old days” story is that the Stardust Gran Prix and the Stardust Speedway is no more. For reasons I’ll never understand, the race and the track never became popular, and the land costs were too high.
Well, the ‘67 330GT 2+2 was a great machine. It was so great in fact that when I had a chance to go to Europe in 1969, I decided to get a 365 GT 2+2 while there; but that’s another story.
Prancing Horse #31, April 1971