A Tale of two Ferraris

Ferrari 330GTC

Ferrari 330GTC

So, moving from the general to the particular, the time has come (as W. said) to tell you about MY Ferraris. I have owned two of them, but alas, no longer! The first was a 1967 330GTC, an absolutely beautiful car that I had bought used for what now seems like a pittance. This was a significant car, and is certainly a collector’s item today. It sported the original V-12 Colombo-designed engine, carbureted, 330 cc per cylinder (that’s x12, if you want the engine size), 300 hp. This was one of a total run of 600 cars built by Ferrari in 1966 and 1967. It was the first Ferrari designed and built for the road: earlier models had all been essentially modified race cars. As such, it was equipped with air conditioning, electric window lifts, and other amenities that had been lacking in the more spartan earlier Ferraris. The steering, alas, was still unassisted, which made driving the car a chore at low speeds. But hey, I was 30 and in top shape, and I did my best to never slow down below 50 mph, so the problem was not serious (just kidding :-))

There were more macho cars coming out of Maranello at that time, notably the much-desired 275GTB/4, and of course there had been the GTO, but none that could match the understated elegance of the GTC’s flowing lines. The green paint was a non-Ferrari color, but it was hard to take issue with its soft metallic translucence. Of course the oval grille in the front shouted FERRARI at a distance. The car was robust and non-temperamental, a perfect rebuttal to all those silly stories about the unreliability of Italian cars. I owned it for several years, then, one fateful day, probably under the influence of some alien ray that completely befuddled my brain, I traded it in.

Its successor was a 1984 308GTSi. This was the storied Quattrovalvole model, 3 liters, 8 cylinders only, choked down by aftermarket emission control equipment. In fact the early 80’s were not auspicious years for street Ferrari’s, performance-wise. It took them a while optimize their engines for the ever-stricter American EPA rules, and in the interim they simply slapped catalytic converters on existing engines, twiddled with the timing, leaned out the mixture, and voila’. But it was still every inch a Ferrari, exuding quality and performance. Best results were obtained starting in second, with a little clutch slippage, until the engine was up the torque curve a bit. I had a child in junior high school at that time, and it was fun picking her up in the 308, watching the little boys line up to ogle the car, and answering their questions. I wish each of them a Ferrari in their lives.

I no longer own Ferraris. When asked the reason why, I say I traded them in for children, which is only partly right. The truer reason is more difficult to articulate. There are phases in a man’s life, the ebbs and flows of shifting circumstances and priorities, there is the clamor of conflicting demands. There had to be a “Ferrari phase” in my life, but, having had it, having enjoyed it to the utmost, it had to naturally come to an end. Time to move on. So now I ride a Moto Guzzi Breva, an 1100cc twin built on the Lago di Como. Perhaps one day I will write about it.

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