Featured: Dawn Driving A 365 2+2 Was How I Spent A Perfect Saturday Morning

Dawn Driving A 365 2+2 Was How I Spent A Perfect Saturday Morning

By Andrew Maness
October 17, 2016

Photography by Andrew Maness

“It’s just another old car”, that’s what I kept telling myself prior to driving the most valuable vehicle that I’ve been handed the keys to. Of course it wasn’t, not hardly. Even in rough condition, a 1969 Ferrari 365 GT 2+2 shouldn’t be described as just another old car, and the example I was getting behind the wheel of was in immaculate condition.

But I wasn’t nervous, not even a little. As far as classic Ferraris go, the 365 GT 2+2 is about as driver friendly as they come. It was the first Ferrari to feature standard power steering and brakes for the American market, an independent self-leveling rear suspension, and optional A/C. Other classic Ferraris are intimidating, the 365 GT is inviting, car 12549 in particular.

The current owner chose to do away with the original black leather interior, opting instead for a light tan leather that better compliments the Metallic Silver/Blue paint. It’s that combo that drew me to the car while walking around The Quail this past summer, and ultimately led to me talking to the owner about photographing the car. He seemed surprised that I thought the car warranted the attention considering the company it was in, but in a sea of “loud cars”, it’s often the quiet ones that are the most interesting.

Wafting along a two lane road with ice cold air blowing from the vents isn’t how I imagined my first time driving a Ferrari. Since rowing through the gated gearbox of the legendary F355 Challenge arcade game as budding petrolhead, I dreamt of the day I’d finally get to drive one of Maranello’s finest for real. I always figured it’d be something modern, red, and purpose built for speed. A 365 GT 2+2 on Borrani wire wheels is the polar opposite of what I saw in my visions of the future, but I’m damn glad things worked out the way they did.

How many people get the chance to turn a blank key in the ignition of a six figure car, listen to the fuel pumps kick on, and then bring a V12 to life before the sun is up? That ritual alone is more interesting to me than driving three laps in a 458 Italia as part of some overpriced supercar experience.

Cruising up to north Malibu on Highway 1 gave me time to get acquainted with the nature of the car, and by the time we reached the bottom the first canyon road I’d chosen to drive, I was thoroughly impressed with how stable it felt. The 5 speed all- synchromesh transmission shifted smoothly, even when I absent-mindedly rushed it. Play in the wheel? Virtually none. The servo-assisted recirculating ball setup had all the feel and directness that an enthusiast can only dream of finding in a modern car. I’m damn glad it was so good too, because nothing would be more unsettling than not knowing where the front end of somebody else’s vintage Ferrari is headed, especially one of the longest ever made at 16.3 feet.

With my confidence built up, and a soft purple gradient becoming more prominent in the sky, it was time to find out if the 365 GT was up for more spirited shenanigans. I told the owner that I knew the road much better than I knew him, but if he felt I was going too hard on his retirement fund, all he need do is say so and I’d back off.

No words in protest of my driving were uttered, only an early grab of the “oh-shit-handle” when I got into the meatiest part of 3rd gear.

This is a hell of a car.

Even by modern standards it doesn’t feel slow in a straight line, and when you get in a groove of linking one curve with another, it’ll have you laughing with delight. The front mounted 4.4 liter V12 churns out 320 horsepower at 6,600 rpm, and as expected, the Italian sings the high octaves beautifully.

Hustle the car too much, and it’ll definitely get away from you, but in order to do that you’d have to be disrespecting the vehicle or just a shit driver. Yes, it’s a big car, but with a dry curb weight of 3,262 pounds, it’s hardly a tank. Hell, that’s 273 pounds lighter than my 2015 BMW M235i, which happens to have the same power output as the grand ‘ol Ferrari.

And no, it’s not even remotely debatable which is more fun to drive. Strip away all the prestige and pedigree that comes with a Ferrari badge, and I’d still take the 365 GT over my spry sports coupe any day. Like all truly great cars, it is more than the sum of its parts, not a product, but rather an experience.

An experience that’s not for everyone, I might add. Plenty of people don’t give the 2+2 its due, and in fact, that was a large part of why the current owner was attracted to it in the first place. He wanted a car that was different, but not a car that would stand out too much and attract the wrong kind of attention.

Understated and elegant are not words often associated with Ferrari, but they’re certainly fitting when describing the 365 GT.

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Jim Levitt
Jim Levitt
7 years ago

A nice, pleasant Ferrari to drive.
A friend of mine had one of these in the early 70s.

Bill Meyer
Bill Meyer
7 years ago

I’ve been admirer of the 2+2s since I was 14. That year (1964) I was with my dad at the SCCA national run-offs at Riverside. Pulling in to the spectator area on the inside of Turn 6 was a black 250 GTE driven by Chick Vandagriff who owned Hollywood Sports Cars. I knew it was a very special car even then. Years later I tried to buy a similar piece up in Seattle but the deal fell through…….oh well.

2024 years ago

amazing …
I love the way your article and discussion, and this became the motivation for me. ..
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7 years ago

“…or just a shit driver”?

I tend to think this is the classiest website for vintage autos, but that kind of writing makes me think I’m reading a post in a blog thread filled with twenty-year-olds and immediately pulled me out of my vicarious ride in such a wonderful car. Doesn’t this site have editors who expect a classier standard of journalism?

Chris Ribbe
Chris Ribbe
7 years ago

If it comes to the driving dynamics of classic Ferrari engines, Giotto Bizzarrini made a point.
His quote after test driving an Corvette engined Gordon Keeble for Renzo Rivolta, who wanted Ferrari’s engine builder’s opinion about the ‘hybrid’ concept of planting American engines in European GTs/sport cars. Bizzarrini after the test drive:

“I was shocked how the Corvette engine was superior to the Ferrari engine offering the same power with much more immediate throttle response.”*
This statement from Bizzarrini just after he had developed the Ferrari 250 GTO.
The result of this test drive, Rivolta started to build the Iso… and Bizzarrini later on his race cars and the 5300 Stradale, all with American engines (GM and Ford – first choice Chrysler engines were too expensive )

*Iso Rivolta, The Men, The Machines from Winston Goodfellow, p83 (the ONE classic car book every enthusiast need to read)

Frank Anigbo
7 years ago

Every bit my kind of car.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
7 years ago

First off let me say I’m a fan of the 365 GT 2+2 and in fact owned one of its later replacements … the 365 GTC/4

Having said that though ;

1) It really is just another car regardless of the hype and myth that surrounds the badge . Seriously … its a car .. a damn nice car perhaps … but its still just a car and should be treated as such .

2) ‘ Officially ‘ the motor shelled out [ pun intended ] 320 hp whereas in reality none ever so much as even came close to 250 hp . Suffice it to say Enzo was know for his overstating the performance and hp figures of his street cars … by leaps and bounds

3) It might of eased the burden of driving this car if you’d of realized that less than ten years ago a damn good one could be had for well under $35k.. and that current prices are seriously overinflated due to the present Collector Car mania

4) Considering its 0-60 is slower that that of my Mercedes SUV [ by a full second ] … the 365 GT 2+2 is damn slow by modern standards

5) One repair/maintenance bill and guaranteed you’d be wishing , hoping and praying for your Bimmer back .. toot suite !

6) As for handling .. the 365 GT 2+2 is a Grand Tourer … not an out and out sports/exotic … which is why so many poo poo the car preferring its sportier siblings .. rather than buying the car they’d be more likely to use as a daily driver

7) Elegance .. understated or otherwise is not a term I’d ever apply to the 365 GT 2+2 . A bit awkward .. slightly out of balance and yet still with an element of Italian charm comes closer to the mark . Kind of like a semi plain Jane signorina that cleans up real well and looks great in the evening .. or after a couple of drinks .

But like I said in the beginning .. it is an under rated car … and until the prices became as ludicrous as they now are … I was … a major advocate for 2+2 Prancing Ponies ..

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