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