330 GT Registry

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Each of us, I’m sure, vividly remembers his first Ferrari. For some it has been a new modern bullet like a 308 or 512. Our more senior members drove out of places like Chinetti’s and Otto Zipper’s with models that have become legends, like Lussos and California Spiders. Many of our membership, however, started with Ferraris that had already served several masters and, like most initiations, thoroughly tested the new owner’s mettle and commitment. Like most enthusiasts, I wanted a Ferrari long before I found a way to afford one. Having been an avid reader of Road & Track and Sports Car Graphic through high school and college, I was somewhat knowledgeable about what I was seeing at Sebring each March during the early ‘60’s.
I particularly enjoyed standing on top of the stands at the Webster Turn just at dusk. The Testa Rossas and later the GTO’s would come yowling down the Warehouse Straight flat Out before braking hard for the 900 right hander. You could see the brake discs glowing through the Borranis; first dull red then rapidly brighter and brighter to a brilliant orange. The turn placed the cars parallel to the stands for an instant before the right- angle left-hander led them directly away from where I stood; accelerating hard through second gear, then third, fourth and finally, just as their taillights disappeared curving off to the right, fifth. It was glorious! Someday, I told myself, I’d have a Ferrari.
Ten years later, in the fall of 1972, I dropped in on a friend who was the sales manager of a Mercedes dealer ship. During our conversation he mentioned having recently traded in a Ferrari that he really wanted rid of. That’s when I met #4995, a 330 America.
It sat in their unpaved back storage lot, its battery dead, sandwiched between a rusting Fiat and a chain link fence. I got it running in short order and once out of the weeds it turned out to look pretty decent. The silver repaint was a few years old but the interior was quite nice and the owner’s books were all in the glove box.
A very neat job had been done of installing air conditioning ducted through the original dash vents. The Borranis looked fine and everything electrical worked — even the overdrive. A check for $3600 was all it took.
I went to Sears and bought a DieHard and then had a local Alfa Romeo and sometimes Ferrari mechanic tune it up. I was in heaven. My wife, realizing that I had satisfied a longstanding dream, wisely kept quiet about the air conditioner that didn’t cool us but overheated the engine; the oil slick in the drive and even ignored the blue pall that followed the car around.
That tune up was my first indication that Ferrari ownership was going to be more expensive than the TR-3’s and 4’s I had been driving. Walt had adjusted the valves, balanced the carburetors, changed the plugs and points and had charged nearly a hundred dollars! I wrote a check for the forty-odd dollars my wife was expecting and paid the rest out of a secret stash.
Reasoning that we now had a real Grand Touring car we planned a trip from our home in Florida to visit friends in Colorado. I had discovered that the car used some oil, so I bought a case of 40-weight to carry along for adding, and so I could change the whole works before heading home. That would leave room in the trunk for three cases of Coors.
The car ran great, but I ran out of oil before getting to Denver! There had been several stops along the roadside to make repairs, too. The overdrive quit two or three times, but putting increasingly higher-amperage fuses in always got it going again. The speedo began to howl in Louisiana so I disconnected it. Outside of Dalhart, Texas the shift lever suddenly went all floppy. That had me worried for a minute, but after finding that all the gears were still there we motored on. At that time the Ferrari dealership in Denver was on lower Broadway, down past the big Gates rubber factory. It looked suspiciously like a remodeled A&W rootbeer drive-in with the center aisle glassed in for a showroom and used cars parked under the roofed side aisles. The garage was in back and the service manager inspired great confidence by knowing exactly what was wrong with my shifter. After $2.50 for the bushing and $60.00 labor I was all set again.
While waiting, I remember looking at a new Daytona and a GTC/4 in the showroom (dining room?) while around the building were several 275GTB’s, 33OGTC’s, etc. Several older GTE’s, a crashed Lusso and an old 250 P-F coupe were being eaten by the elements and used-parts scroungers along the back fence.
During our stay in Denver the snow began, making the often-daily repairs even more fun. Most memorable was having the 330 jacked up on blocks along the curb on the hilly street in front of our friend’s apartment. The right front brake caliper had seized and I rebuilt it kneeling in several inches of snow while more flurried down around me.
Since we were running out of time, humor and money, I bought another case of oil instead of the beer and headed home. The weatherman had said that I-70 east out of Denver was clear, but I guarantee he wasn’t thinking about Ferraris. Within twenty miles the ridge of snow between the ruts had torn off the scoop from the belly pan, and as conditions grew worse finally pushed the ill-fitting mufflers back off of the header pipes. The next day, finally out of the snow I persuaded (paid) a gas station jockey to let me use his lift so I could cobble the exhaust back together. I can still remember him pointing into the trunk and remarking to his pals about my needing to travel with a whole goddamn case of oil.
In Kentucky the shift bushing let go again, and another gas station philosopher observed that the horse on the front of his Mustang was galloping whereas, oddly, mine was rearm’ up.
Tennessee brought a screeching noise from the tach drive so again I made my repairs at a rural Esso station while good ol’ boys were called from the barber shop across the street to see the funny car with “two of ever-thin’’ (distributors, oil filters, etc.) They all counted the spark plugs.
Around Chattanooga the overdrive gave up for good and I bought more oil. I remember very little about the last five-hundred miles home except that the radio died and my wife was asking what other fantasies of mine were still unfulfilled.
By December I had come to the realization that old #4995 needed a complete engine overhaul, head modifications, another repaint and a thorough brake rebuild. About that time someone came along who had read all the magazines, been to Daytona and Sebring and had always wanted a Ferrari. I made him a happy man.
Since that time I have learned a lot. I’ve been through engine overhauls, restoration and brake work aplenty; and I even have another 330 right now. With this knowledge has come belatedly a warm regard for #4995, my first Ferrari, and I have tried to follow up where it has traveled during the past ten years.
I learned recently that the car had made its way to Des Moines, and is probably still in the midwest. If some FCA member has the old girl, or knows where she’s been laid to rest, I would love to hear from you. Have we got some stories to tell!

Bill Orth

1983 Ferrari Club of America
Permission to publish granted by Ferrari Club of America