330 GT Registry

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It is easy to get excited when there is a chance of even seeing a Ferrari at close quarters. When the chance to drive one of these legendary machines presents itself, then it becomes very difficult to remain in an objective mood. Thanks to George Wooley the Montreal based importer for the marque we were able to spend a couple of days recently sampling the joys of motoring in the “grand manner”.

The 330GT was designed as luxury transport for four adults, with the ability to see off all but the most highly tuned Detroit ware in a straight line (which the earlier 250GT was no longer able to do), coupled with the best in handling, ride and brakes. The Ferrari model number shows approximate capacity of one cylinder in cc’s. Thus each cylinder of the 60 degree V-12 has a capacity of 330 cc, giving a total of 3,967 cc (440 cu. in.) with a bore of 77 mm and stroke of 71 mm. Power is officially 300 hp (net) at 6,000 rpm, with a max. torque of around 290 lb. ft. at 5,000 rpm. Single overhead camshafts are used for each bank of cylinders. with a Marelli distributor driven off the rear of each camshaft. Three 40 mm Weber downdraft carburetors constitute the “gasworks” department, surmounted by a very large air cleaner which dominates the engine compartment.

The gearbox is driven through a 10-inch multiplate clutch, and has four forward speeds, plus overdrive on top. The all-synchro gears have ratios of 2.53 for first, 1.77-second; 1.256-third; 1.00-top and 0.78 overdrive, with reverse 3.22. The differential is limited-slip having 4.25 ratio, with an optional 3.6 available, and gives theoretical speeds of 48 mph in first, 73 in second, 100 in third and 125 in top, with something near 150 mph available in overdrive top.

The chassis is tubular with large oval section main members, well braced. Front suspension uses unequal length A-arms with short coil springs damped by Koni shocks, while at the back the rigid rear axle is carried on half-elliptic leaf springs, located by radius rods with additional springing plus damping provided by Koni shock/spring assemblies. The Pininfarina styled body is steel, with hood and trunk lids of aluminum, and with the 20 gallon gas tank full and 17 pints of oil in the sump the car weighs 3,884 pounds, distribution being 46% front, 54% rear. The body shape is attractive without being exciting, and unadorned by chrome frills. We felt that the frontal treatment was not up to the rest of the car, but just how effective the aerodynamics are was proved by the absence of wind noise over 80 mph. With none of the normal banshee like noises coming from outside it was possible to talk normally at 100 mph, which makes a lot of difference to fatigue on a long distance high speed trip. Road noise, too, is thoroughly muffled so that hitting a bump produces a distant and unobtrusive thump, and it was easy to imagine, on highway stretches, that the car had no contact with the road at all, although the taut feeling at the wheel belied this.

In keeping the the outside appearance the interior is plain and purposeful although beautifully done with heavy padding everywhere, genuine leather upholstery, concealed door latches, etc. The fully adjustable Reutter type seats give comfortable seating but little sideways support for the passenger when the car is being cornered enthusiastically. The rear seats are contoured with a centre arm rest and appear to offer adequate comfort for adults, even to having leg room with the front seats on full adjustment.

The driver is faced by a large wood rimmed steering wheel, with horn button in the centre having the legendary prancing horse motif, and operating powerful air horns. The overdrive switch is a stalk on the right hand side of the column, while on the left there is a short stalk for the turn indicators, with a longer one mounted further down controlling the lights with three positions for parking, dipped and high beam. It was easy to get confused with these two switches at first, but after half an hour with the car there were no problems. The wood facia has a comprehensive set of instruments, oil temp. and pressure being in front of the driver flanked by large speedo (to 180 mph and rev, counter (redlined at 6,600 rpm). To the right there is another cluster containing water temperature, fuel, amps and a clock, and below this are air vents which can direct cool aid to the brow of driver or passenger, knobs for wiper and panel lights, and at the bottom of the panel a line of toggle switches controlling lights, an auxiliary electric fuel pump, heater and defroster blowers, front and rear, and interior lights. There are further heater controls at the left of the panel by the door, (George claims the heater is extremely good), and the whole is overshadowed by a deep padded anti glare hood, with further padding on the underside of the panel.

The pedal angles are adjusted at the factory to suit the individual driver, and wheel position and seat squab height can also be varied to give a fully tailored driving position. We found the controls to be light, but clutch travel a little long to get a full straight arm driving position without adjusting the wheel. The gear lever is short and sits up on the high transmission tunnel where it falls naturally to hand, the all-synchro box allowing quick shifts on everything but second, where double declutching was necessary to the way down to avoid crunches, given strength to move the (somewhat stiff) mechanism. The same could be said of the steering, very positive at all times but heavy at low speeds, and small wonder for the Borrani 15-inch wheels have wide rims to carry the Pirelli Cinturato HS tires which are 205 mm by 15, giving 8 inches of tread on the road. Above 60 mph it feels just right, positive balanced and direct with 3 turns lock to lock (the turning circle is 45 ft.).

The brakes are 12-inch Dunlop discs on all wheels, with Bendix servos assisting on the separate front and rear brake circuits. Mintex M33 pads are used, a reasonably soft material which gives good bite at low speeds without fading under stops from high speeds. We found that the pedal appeared spongy on first acquaintance, and there seemed to be a slight lag before the servos took over, but then the car just stops, whatever the speed, without any fuss and without fade or pull even after repeated applications from high speed.

The Marelli starter turns the engine over very slowly. We found that when starting from cold it was best to leave everything alone and merely twist and push on the key. Then the motor turns over about twice and fires, settling down to a gentle mumbling sound with some higher pitched whirring noises characteristic of the overhead cam engine. The hood is padded with sound deadening material, and with everything closed it only becomes noticeable above 5,000 rpm, and then not obtrusively. Power is ample from 3,500 up, but there is a tendency to wind it up in each gear just to hear the delightful noises, and this could get tough on the pocketbook above second. On a winding, poorly surfaced road that was part of our test we found the handling excellent, it being possible to flick the car through the corners using the power and a fractional movement of the wheel, and it stayed on line despite bumps which would have had a car with less handling into the ditch straight away. In general the handling was neutral, power bringing the tail out. In a straight line we got 0-60. times of around 7 seconds and 0-100 in 17, and found it very difficult to keep down to 60 mph because the performance is so effortless that 90 feels like 50 in any other car, and the 330GT gets to that figure very easily.

The only criticism we have concerns the lights. The headlights are 45 watt Marchals, the 12 volt system being supplied by a Marelli alternator, and with all four working on high beam the illumination is superb and probably good enough to drive on at the cars maximum. However, the dipped beams are two 40 watt which cut off about 50 ft. in front of the car so that 40 mph becomes unsafe if the road is at all narrow. Maybe in Italy the Ferrari owner never dips, but it would seem that revision is necessary for the North American market.

In the 330GT 2 plus 2 Ferrari has a refined 4 seater passenger car which represents the pinnacle of conventional automobile design today. There are no frills on this car for it is a complex and precise instrument, and as such is expensive. At $18,500 you get the best, that is until Ferrari produces a replacement.

Canada Track & Traffic/September, 1965