GT Time Machines: A Day In The Country With Ferrari 365 GTS & GTC Twins
Photography by Will Broadhead
Whether or not the cars interest you, you will have heard of Ferrari. No matter where you are, the prancing horse needs no introduction. Through a sustained commitment to motorsport from the very start, and with the production of road cars that commonly change that definition, the efforts undertaken in Maranello have converted a good deal of us into diehard Ferrari tifosi.
Like any properly-functioning child of the 1980s, I adore the Testarossa and F40, but the supremely beautiful models lie further back in the timeline, in the post-war front-engine sports cars that buoyed the brand in the ’50s and ’60s. One of the lesser-known of these from the late ‘60s is the Ferrari 365 GTC, and even rarer still, the spiderized 365 GTS version. It’s a treat just to catch one sitting still at a show, but recently I was fortunate enough to be asked to spend a day cavorting about the countryside with both cars.
The GTC comes from a year-long production run that ended at just 150 units, of which only 22 were finished in right-hand drive spec like the blue coupe we have here. With its Pininfarina penned bodywork, the car presents as svelte but purposeful, consistent with other Ferrari GT designs of the period like its predecessor, the 330 GTC.
Sliding into the blue leather of the interior and turning the key, Gioacchino Colombo’s V12 comes to life with just the slightest tease of the accelerator pedal—a wonderful noise, as one would expect. Though the car may share some of the aesthetics of the 330, the engine has more displacement and power. Up from a 4.0L to a 4.4L, the overhead cam lump pushes out 320hp. Regarding that power band, in the real world it is a lovely spread of shove, from torque down low to a very easy breathing right side of the tachometer that leaves you grinning like someone who’s had a little too much limoncello.
Compared to most, the GTC is relatively exclusive, but the roofless GTS is rarer still, with just 20 having been manufactured—this car is the rarest series production convertible to ever wear the Ferrari badge, and, in its day, it also housed the most powerful single overhead cam engine ever fitted to convertible Ferrari. Alongside the GTC, the GTS was aimed at the luxury sports car market and this drop-top variant would surely have been tempting for anyone looking to have their hair blown back by 12 cylinders.
Of course, both of these cars are very similar to the 330 that preceded them, which itself was a sort of highlight reel from a handful of other Ferraris. The chassis of the 275 GTB, the power plant from the 330 GT 2+2, all wrapped in a Pininfarina body that took styling cues from the 400 Superamerica, 500 Superfast, and 275 GTS. It is a combination that could have been a disaster of lowest common denominators, but Ferrari came very close to building something more than the sum of its parts with the 330. That car was of course a huge success, and today is much better known than the 365. But with the extra power, slight refinements, and in my eyes, better styling (although not radically different), the 365 just does it better.
Hanging from the back of a much less refined Land Cruiser to complete the tracking shots of these stunning cars, I find myself continuously falling in love with the engine notes and nearly falling out of the trunk. Back in the driver’s seats, I am impressed with just how well they ride down the street at cruising speeds, particularly in comparison to the cumbersome modern vehicle I have just been traveling in. I take turns in each and find both are delightful (surprise!).
But which would I take home? Mechanically they’re pretty much identical, featuring upgrades on the old 330 bits throughout, including improvements to the clutch, handbrake, and addition of CV Joints over half-shafts, as well as the exceptional and more powerful 4.4L engines underhood. They are both nimble despite what their ages would suggest, easily matching the modern traffic for pace and agility alike, and they both feel like they could be driven for miles with no real discomforts other than the one in your wallet.
So, it comes down to looks then, and despite both being absolutely stunning candidates in that regard, the GTC edges out the GTS here. I’ve always been a bigger fan of tin tops, and rarity and provenance aside, the coupe is just a better-looking shape. But we are talking by fractions. To have had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with them both, under the care of my friends at The Classic Motor Hub, will be something that I won’t forget in a while. As Ferrari looks back, as well as forward with its heritage-inspired Icona series of cars, it could do worse than to look at these for some more inspiration.