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330GT 2+2


250GTE 2+2

Bargain-priced exotica

Photo by Lawrence C. Crane

Photo by Franco Villani
Top: The 330GT 2+2; bottom: the 250GTE 2+2

Imagine you're cleaning your attic one day and you come across a tarnished Aladdin's lamp. You rub it a bit and out pops a genie. It seems your Aladdin's lamp is a discount model, because instead of the customary three whishes, the genie simply offers you a car. "You can have a Mazda or a Ferrari." he says. "Which will it be?"

What a strange choice, you think. But not wanting to look a gift genie in the mouth, naturally you choose the Ferrari. After all, you have a passion for automobiles and it's every enthusiast's dream to own a Ferrari. Mazdas, especially RX-7s are desirable cars. They're entertaining to drive and easy to maintain. But, my goodness, A Ferrari is a Ferrari. There are those who believe that when Enzo Ferrari passes from this earth, he will be granted sainthood for delivering automobile lovers from the throes of mundane transportation.

Actually this little fairy tale isn't so fanciful. Anyone show have about #15,000 and want to buy a sports/GT car has the very real choice of a Mazda or a Ferrari. A 1984 top-of-the-line RX-7 GSL-SE costs just over $15,000. According to Gerald Roush, publisher of the ferrari Market Letter, that's also the going rate for a clean Ferrari 250GTE 2+2 or 330GT 2+2 from the early and mid-Sixties.

Understand we're talking about real Ferraris, not the 'fancy Fiats of the gold-chain set," as some purists derisively (and probably unfairly) call the contemporary 8-cylinder 308s and Mondials. The 250 and 330 2+2s do have honest-to-god V-12 engines. Enzo Ferrari, being Italian, never forgets about the importance of style, so over the years he's engages the greatest designers to put beautiful bodies on his cars. And, of course, he's well aware of the importance of a good chassis. But as anyone worth a year's subscription to R&T knows, the engine is the heart and soul of a Ferrari, especially the Colombo-designed V-12 engines. And unlike the 308 and Mondial, the only Ferraris that are officially imported into the U.S. today, the 250 and 330 2+2s have that V-12 engine.

So despite #15,000 being two, three and even four times the price of most of the cars we've covered during the last decade in out Used car Classic series, for a Ferrari it's a paltry sum. That's why we couldn't resist reporting on the 250GTE 2+2 and the 330GT 2+2.

Evolution of the 2+2s

"Undervalued" "Underrated" "Overlooked." These were the adjectives we heard time and time again to describe these 2+2s. And if you know their backgrounds, you'll understand why.

Enso Ferrari's passion is, and always has been, racing. It's fair to say he never aspired to become the Italian equivalent of GM mogul Alfred P. Sloan. No, his street cars were primarily cash cows used to finance his racing pursuits, at least in the early days. His company's efforts went into race cars, which, with as few modifications as necessary, made them civilized enough to be sold to hairy-chested wealthy folks who could use them as street cars. In the decade or so after World War II, it was feasible to drive a 166MM barchetta, for example, to the track, win a race and then drive it home again.

But with the dawning of the Seventies, the rules of international automobile racing, not to mention onerous government regulation, severely restricted the dual-purpose car. As years passed, Ferrari's Race cars and street cars have come to bear les resemblance to one another. But between the burdensome years of the Seventies and the innocent times of the early Fifties, the dual-purpose Ferrari reach its peak with variations of the 250GT. The 250GT berlinetta Tour de France, the 250 GT Short-wheelbase Spyder California, and the legendary 250GTO were cars of this ear. With them, Ferrari dominated rallies, hillclimbs and endurance racing. To many Ferrari lovers, these models have come to represent the grandest and most charismatic examples of the marque. And their current values, $85,000 and up, reflect their esteemed status.

All of these 250GTs have much in common. Their bodies were styled by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti, with the exception of the GTO that was build by the latter firm but designed in-house by Ferrari. They all used strong, ladder-type frames constructed of welded, tubular steel. They all have wheelbases of 94.4 in., except for the long-wheelbase cars (or LWBs in Ferrari lingo), which are longer by some eight inches. Their rear suspensions consist of a live axle with semi-elliptic springs, located by parallel trailing arms. The Tour de France and California Spyder have drum brakes, but the SWB cars and the GTO use discs. However, all 250GTs came with gorgeous knockoff Borrani wire wheels. And all the 250GTs came with the same basic engine, though there were a number of compression, carburetion and horsepower variations. The engine is a single-over-head cam V-10 with a 60-degree angle between the cylinder banks, the basic design of which was laid out in 1946 by then Ferrari chief engineer, Gioacchino Colombo.

All these 250GTs had something else in common too. They were strictly 2-seaters as befitted race-cum-street cars. If you wanted four seats, you bought two Ferraris. But Aston Martin with its lovely DB4 proved is was possible to provide four seats in a high performance car. So Ferrari and Pininfarina went to work on a 4-place 250GT, using the components of the various 250GT models. Their efforts resulted in the 250GTE 2+2 prototype of 1960, the E standing for the so-called E-series versions of the Colombo V-12 engine.

Under the sheet metal, the 250GTE 2+2 and other famed 250GTs like the Tour de France are basically the same. Even the sheet metal of the GTE and the other 250GTs was styled by the same designer. True, the GTE was not a dual-purpose car, but a heavier grand touring car. Still R&T reported in 1962 a top speed of nearly 150 mph and a 2-60 tome of 8.0 seconds for a 250GTE. Yet a Rout de France costs five or six times more that a GTE today. The 2+2s are God's gift to us poor (relatively speaking, of course) but honest Ferrari lover.

After making the rounds of the European auto shows in 1960, the 250GTE was well into production the following year. The bodies were built by Pininfarina while the rest of the car was made in Ferrari's factory. Between 1961 and 1964 the 250GTE remained essentially unchanged. There were minor improvements during those years, but the major change didn't come until the end of 1964. Its hard to imagine in these days of anemic econoboxes, but the GTE's trust 295-cc, 240-bhp engine was beginning to seen a tad tame. Thus Ferrari decided to equip the 2+2 with the engine from the very limited production model, the Superamerica 400. It was basically the same Colombo-designed V-12, but it had a displacement of 3967 cc and produced 300 BHP. The idea was actually more ambitious than just a larger engine' there was to be a new 2+2 car to carry the engine as well. But he new car wasn't ready, and as an interim measure, about 50 250GTEs received the 4.0 liter engine. The amalgam was christened the 330 America.

The new body finally cam along a few months later, in 1964. This new 330GT 2+2 (not to be confused with the 330GTC, a later 2-passenger car) was not dissimilar from the 250GTE, but the pundits were astonished to see that Pininfarina had taken the old car's perfectly nice front end and added a baroque cluster of twin headlamps on each side in place of the 250GTE's single lamps. Other styling changes, including eliminating the tailfins, were pleasing, however.

Functional changes included a longer wheelbase that allowed more trunk and rear-seat room. The driveline was also strengthened to handle the added horsepower, and the front and rear brake system were separated to avoid the possibility of a total brake failure.

The 330GT 2+2 sold well enough, but Ferrari and Pininfarina seemed to realize they had goofed with the four headlights. In the summer of 1965, the 330GT returned to single lamps and became the Series II 330GT. At the same tome, Campagnolo alloy wheels replace the Borrani wires as standard equipment. Moreover, the Series II cars received a 5-speed gearbox instead of the 4-speed unit with electric overdrive as used on the previous 2+2s. (some 125 4-headlight Series I 330GTs also had 5-speeds instead of overdrives. Model changes at Ferrari are always confusing, which makes keeping track of them like keeping tract of Italian governments.) In addition, the Series I 330GTs were the first of the 2+2s to come with power assisted and air conditioning as factory options.

By the time the last 330GT 2+2s left the Maranello factory around the end of 1967, the score card read as follows: 950 350GTEs, 50 330 Americas, 500 Series I 330GTs with overdrives, 125 Series I 330GTs with 5-speeds and 455 Series II 330GTs. Today these cars may not be the most coveted Ferraris, but with a production total of more than 2000, they were a huge success for a small specialty maker such as Ferrari. And remember, at the time Ferrari salesman didn't force their customers to buy 2+2 instead of the racier 2-passenger models. In fact, there was only about a $1000 difference between a SWB berlinetta and a 250GTE 2+2, the latter selling for just over $12,000 when new. No, people really preferred the practicality of the 2+2s.

Buying a 2+2

The older Ferrari are a paradox. They can be as trouble-free as the new Mazda. Yet they can be so horrendously expensive to maintain that you'd think they were weapons system ordered by the Pentagon. You see, if one of these cars is well cared for, it won't break easily. But if neglected, repairs com dear, which, of course, is why the more cautious among us buy new RX-7s instead of old Ferraris.

These Ferrari 2+2s are really endurance race cars disguised as grand touring cars. And Enzo didn't win so much glory over the years with temperamental, unreliable race cars. In their last years as publishers of R&T, John and Elaine Bond owned one of the 2+2 hybrids, a 330 America. They'd often return home from lengthy business trips and find that of their several cars, only the ferrari would start-and their stable usually included some highly regarded German cars.

In the November 1971 issue of R&T, we published a Ferrari Owner Survey that confirmed the Bonds' experience. Many of the cars in the survey were 250 and 330 2+2s, and most of the respondents had a difficult time coming up with complaints. A few mentioned cooling and electrical system problems. Claude Gray, owner of European Automotive in Riverside, California and an experienced Ferrari mechanic, says that overheating can often be traced to bad head gaskets in the old 2+2s. If all's well there and the car still runs too warm, especially in stop-and-go traffic (Enzo's engineers were thinking more of Le Mans than rust-hour driving on the Long Island Expressway when they designed the cooling system), Gray suggests replacing the old fashioned metal fan with a modern plastic one, or even adding an auxiliary electric fan.

As for maladies, Gray and another Ferrari expert, Lyle Tanner, agree that ham-fisted mechanics are often the real problem. It seems that Back in the days of the 240 and 330 2+2s, Ferrari electrical system were arcane, with wiring and placement of switches varying from car to car. Over the years mechanics often confused things even more with their fiddlings. Tanner owns Lyle Tanner enterprises in Carson, California, a repair facility and one of the major supplies of Ferrari parts in the country. Tanner recalls a nice 330GT  pulling into his shop with a seemingly minor electrical problem. Upon inspection, he was horrified to discover some dumb cluck had taken off the connections from the back of the fuse box and welded them into a giant glob.

And therein lies the rub with the 250 and 330 2+2s. These are now old cars, 2-- to 25-year-old cars. They've not only been subjected to the normal ravages of age, but often to inept owners and mechanics as well. One respondent in the 1971 survey listed the 'improvements' he had made to his 250GT: an American alternator and regulator, a custom exhaust system and a Ford differential. This is what you have to watch out for in your search for an older Ferrari.

More than the owners of 250 berlinettas or spyders, 2+2 owners are likely to be low-budget folks who try to avoid high-budget Ferrari parts and service. every one of the Ferrari experts we contacted eventually utter the same words. A $15,000 250 GTE or 330GT 2+2 costs just as much to fix as a $100,000 250 SWB berlinetta. Tanner gives a sampling of repair prices (are you sitting down?): normal engine overhaul, parts and labor,. $6,000-$8000; brake system overhaul, parts only $7000$800; front wheel bearing, pert only, $90; complete exhaust system, parts only $700; overhaul of electric overdrive unit, parts and labor, $1300;  transmission overhaul, parts and labor, $2000. Worn valve guides are often a source of excessive oil burning on V=12 Ferrari engines, and a cylinder-head rebuild is $2000. Rear ends tend to wear on these older Ferraris; parts and labor for a rebuild are $2000.

And there's not much you can do to avoid paying these prices if you want the jobs done right. Though some body parts~door handles and the like were shared with lowly Alfas and Fiats, there's little else that's interchangeable with other cars. Even the British-made Laycock de Normanville overdrive, though very similar to those used on Jaguars, has input and output shafts peculiar to Ferrari. The good news is that aside from certain body and trim pieces, parts for the +2s are readily available if you can pa the price.

Because these Ferraris represent an unparalleled opportunity for person bankruptcy, we can't emphasize enough the need for a complete inspection by a knowledgeable Ferrari mechanic before you buy. In Tanner's shop, it'll cost $150 and take three hours. For the money he'll give the engine a compression and leak-down test. He'll suspend the car and check each wheel for excessive play. He'll remove all the inspection plates, of which there are many on old Ferraris. In general, he'll go over just about every inch of the car.

In out Used Car Classic articles we usually give the same advice, which is to worry less about the mechanical because you can always rebuild and engine or rear end, but rust of body=cancer is often forever. This axiom doesn't always hold true with Ferraris because of the parts costs. Certainly you want to avoid a Ferrari that' nothing but iron oxide, but a little rust on the rocker panels, leading edges of the doors, or under the windshield wipers (all common sports for rust on 2+2s) is preferable to a blown engine.

In sum, when a V-12 Ferrari is good, it's very good. But unlike Mae West, when it's bad, it's very bad indeed.

2+2 Price Appreciation Potential

Ferraris aren't just cars. They're not even just cars for automotive connoisseurs. They've become investments. Around 1976, when the country entered into an inflation binge, Ferraris joined that group of highly desirable items such as California real estate and Persian rugs known as inflation hedges. In 1971, a Rout de France would be advertised in R&Ts 'Market Place' for $5000 or $6000. For people who simply love cars and don't give a hoot about hedges, this idea of buying Ferraris for their investment value is, as William Bendix used to say, "a reboltin' development. Now you can't become involved in Ferraris without thinking about  investment potential.

In the last five or six years, the 2+2s have doubled and tripled in value. But can we expect them to skyrocket in value like other 250GTs? According to Gerald Roush, the answer is no. First, he doesn't foresee any Ferrari, 2+2 or otherwise, increasing at the rate they did during the 1976-1980 period. Second, there's rarity' the 2+2s are far more numerous that their 2-passenger counterparts. Third, when it come to collectible cars, people always prefer the racier-looking models.

Instead, Roush thinks the 250 and 330 2+2s will appreciate at five or maybe 10 percent a year or, in other words, a little more than inflation. There is, however, one event that could cause a more rapid rise in Ferrari prices, Enzo's death. He is 86 and the theory goes that when he dies it will remind people that ne made these wonderful cars and that everybody will suddenly want one. People have invested in things for sillier reasons.

Among the 2+2s, the pecking order according to Roush begins with the America. It's the most rare, and its body is lighter than the 330 yet it has the bigger engine. The second most desirable model would be a Series II 3t0. Third, a 250GTE. And finally, the 4-headlith 440. But the price difference among they are actually very slight.

Driving Impressions


ROAD & TRACK November 1984

Copyright 1984, CBS, Inc.