Indigestion Part Three: The Ferraris Of Como Park

TestaRossa1

Como Park is located across a narrow road from the very exclusive Royal South Yarra Lawn Tennis Club. So a Ferrari-only day is an apt fit for the environs. In this instalment, I’ve got a few of the lesser known models that are interesting in their own right, as well as some more famous examples. So slip on a tux t-shirt and follow me in.

TestaRossa3

First up is a 250 Testa Rossa. Yes, this is a replica, and a very well-made one. The name derives from the red valve covers used on the 3 litre V12, and translates literally as ‘Red Head’. This is the first series version with a body actually styled by Scaglietti. Most distinctive, but not so obvious in my shots, are the deep body cavities behind the front wheels, nominally to aid brake cooling.

TestaRossa2

Not quite as famous as the 250 GTO, the Testa Rossa won at Le Mans three times. This first series scored the chequered flag in 1958 with pilots Olivier Gendebien and Phil Hill. Values for the originals are of course stratospheric, being considered the ‘second most collectable series Ferrari’. When the owner of this example is fanging it amongst the traffic, at least they don’t have to worry about an 8-figure repair bill.

250GTEb

This next model, the 250 GTE, is a perfect illustration of the vagaries and progressions of the market. There was a time about 30 years ago when the 250 GTE could be bought for the price of a nice family sedan. To collectors, it was considered a pedestrian Ferrari, by virtue of it being the base model with four seats and having a host of much more desired siblings. It would have been shunned by the cognoscenti at carshows and relegated to the back rows.

250GTEa

Using the base 3 litre V12 engine that was up-specced for the 250 GTO, these were invariably bought for organ donorship. I’m not sure of numbers, but there was a craze in the 80s and 90s for V12 GTO (and Testa Rossa) replicas and these ‘bargain basement’ prancers were the first to be culled. Now things are much changed, and an example like this takes pride of place amongst the 458s and 575s. The coachwork by Pininfarina is an understated but completely assured interpretation of the Florida Line. I really like the look of these cars.

330GTCc

Another overlooked Ferrari is the 330 GTC. It was considered the most streetable during its relatively short lifespan, 1966 to 1968. It’s a tight but commodious two seater; very, very small when you encounter it for real. It was powered by the same V12 as the 250, though enlarged to 4 litres. I realise I’m throwing a lot of model numbers at you. During this period, the model number for Ferraris indicated the swept volume of a single cylinder, but not all the time, if that helps.

330GTCa

A quiet beauty from Pininfarina, the 330 GTC suffers perhaps in lacking a distinctive visual personality. The front end was derived from an earlier 500 Superfast, a top of the range monster that was not as successful overall in its design. It makes for an interesting alternative if you live in a high density suburb with too many Dino GTs.

365a

Same face, completely different effect. Where the little 330 GTC is a cohesive design, this 365 GT 2+2 is a muddled mess. Produced between 1968 and 1970, these models were larger than the GTC in having (relatively) spacious seating in the rear. It was the best selling Ferrari model during its lifetime due in no small part to its owner-coddling power steering and brakes, electric windows and optional air conditioning.

365b

And here is a shot of its rear end. There is no real deficiency in either the front or the rear, but they belong to two different cars. Whereas the 330 GTC continued the use of curvature into its rear, the 365 GT 2+2 is speaking two different languages with its rounded nose and sharp edged/straight lined butt. Incidently, famed collector Bill Harrah grafted the front end of one of these, including the engine, to a Jeep Wagoneer. Seriously.

365GTC4a

This is one of my all-time favourite Ferraris. The 365 GTC/4 was the successor of sorts to the above GT 2+2. And a world away from it in design. There’s hardly a misstep in its visual effect; curves and razor edges in harmonious synchronisation. The sloping rear roofline may have given passengers less headroom, but who cares when the car looks this good. I’ve managed to catch one of these curbside, so it’s on my list of CCs for sometime in the future.

365GTC4c

Drool.

365GTC4b

Como Park is not quite Pebble Beach, being open to the public. Rest assured, though, amongst owners there are those who have a Ferrari and there’s… well, there’s the gawkers. But they’re not all like this. I managed to have a long chat with the owner of this silver example. He works on it himself and loves to take it for a squirt with his mates, but to be honest he seemed to prefer his big block Camaro. His daily driver? A Mitsubishi Verada Wagon. Legend.

Daytona

The reason the 365 GTC/4 is overshadowed is this. The 365 GTB Daytona. With a more powerful version of the 4.4 litre V12 and a racing heritage, this is the most desirable of the front engined 365 models. It’s a superb design, but I don’t find it quite as appealing as the GTC/4. The first series of these had exposed headlamps behind a clear perspex cover which looked fantastic but was discontinued in order to get the model into the US.

275a

The Daytona was the successor to the 275 GTB. It had the same extended nose/short rear look spawned by the Jaguar E-type. Spotters guide: If that little grille opening has a slightly upturned ‘smile’ like this one, you’re looking at a ‘long nose’. The nose was slightly altered in 1965, a year after its introduction, in order to improve downforce. The easy tell on the long nose are the exposed hinges on the rear bootlid. And if you really want to be impressed, look for a bulge on the bonnet. That’s one of the 4 cam models, the most desirable of the production road cars. This isn’t one of those.

275b

If I might have sounded slightly churlish in my opinion of the Daytona, I’m probably going to come across with complete reverse-snobbery wankeur on the 275 GTB. I just don’t like this bodystyle at all. But I must concede it comes loaded with all the brutish cues of the period. It screams raw power and to many people that is exactly what a Ferrari is all about.

246a

And what a contrast its little sister was. In production around the same time as the 275 GTB, the Dino 206 GT was the Ferrari pointing to the future. In short the Dino was the Edsel of its time. A new marque from an established carmaker named after the prematurely deceased son of the founder. Both marques were shortlived, but whilst one was a dead-end for Ford, the other introduced Ferrari to a successful diffusion range.

246c

How good does that white coat look? One for you, Perry. This example is a later 246, but maintains its Dino badging which is a nice touch. There’s not a bad angle on the car and it’s the very definition of a house job. Aldo Brovarone and Leonardo Fioravanti were both individually instrumental in coming to this final shape, and Sergio Pininfarina was key driver for the whole project. You know that thing about a horse designed by committee? This is the flipside. It was in production for eight years from 1968 and nearly 4000 units were produced.

246b

Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina was a close friend to Enzo; a man who appeared to have no close friends. From 1958 to 1973, all series production road cars were styled for Ferrari by Pininfarina and Battista’s business rarely failed at the task. From the many, many beautiful PF contributions, this was their best seller and an out-and-out masterpiece. And Enzo, inscrutable as ever, gave the next Dino to Bertone.

308GT4a

Nuccio Bertone had been hungry for a Ferrari series commission for a long time. In the early sixties he had his top stylist, Giorgetto Giugiaro, design him a 250 coupe with a sharknose like the 1962 GP racers. It was a very beautiful car, and he was most eager for Enzo to see it. Enzo was pleased with the result, but ten more years passed before he finally gave Nuccio a factory job. The 1973 Dino 308GT4.

308GT4b

Much criticism is made of its angular styling, but within that idiom it’s a real success. Instead of comparing it with the 246 it replaced, picture it alongside the chisel noses across the rest of the Ferrari range at the time. Bertone was certainly trying to make it brand-distinct, sharing obvious kinship with the Lancia Stratos and Lamborghini Urraco. This example has the updated grille, intake and chin spoiler used on the later models.

308GT4c

Yep. That’s a functioning towbar. Notice most of the number plates here are burgundy in colour. In Victoria, Australia, burgundy denotes club registration. Plates like this white/green 70/80s version indicate full road registration. And it’s used to tow bikes. Curbside props.

308GTBb

In 1976, the Dino marque was discontinued and the V8 range officially became Ferraris. The first new scion to enjoy this openly declared paternity was the 308 GTB. But it threw a spanner in the model numbering system. The Dino system was size and no. of cylinders. The 206 was a 2 litre V6, the 308 was a 3 litre V8, etc. And there was also a 2 litre 208 GTB version of this body with a smaller engine to circumvent Italian tax thresholds.

308GTBa

When I was growing up, I never considered this as good as the fifties and sixties Ferraris, but now I think it’s at least the equal of many of them. From Leonardo Fioravanti’s peak period, the detailing is rendered more solidly than that of its predecessor. It’s an excellent adaptation of the Dino 206/246 ‘amidships-cockpit’ style, but with the added wedginess and general dynamic of the imposing 365 BB.

BB1

The 365 BB. Berlinetta Boxer. Propelled by a 12 cylinder horizontally-opposed unit, it was the top of the range Ferrari and lasted from 1973 until the arrival of Miami Vice. Another peak Fioravanti, it was the Dino writ large and wedge. The engine was positioned longtitudinally behind the driver. Even with that extended nose, it still suffered from a 56% weight bias at the rear.

BB2

During its long run, the 365 BB became the 512 BB. The 4.4 was enlarged to 5 litres, and if you do the maths, you’ll realise someone decided twelve cylinder Ferraris would use the Dino model numbering system. Power up to 360bhp, a quoted top speed of 188mph and a 0-60mph of 5.2 seconds. The body was available in two colour schemes; split with a black (or silver I think) lower tub and same colour all over.

BB3

I’ve got a shot of Enzo Ferrari gesticulating proudly over the engine of one of these. He played with engine configurations down to two cylinders, but the history of Ferrari is dominated by 12 cylinders. He never really cared for the road cars; they were just a means of financing his racing. This flat-12 was used for sports car and Formula 1 racing, and despite his recalcitrant nature it appears he enjoyed taking the V12 into this new phase.

250PFa

Best for last. A 1958-60 250 GT Coupe Pininfarina. Enzo’s first genuine attempt at a series road car. It is so unbelieveably clean in its execution. Size-wise, it was above the race-bred SWB variants and beneath the supercar stratum of the Superamericas and Superfasts. Long-legged, lithe and serene, this is one of the greats of the greats.

250PFb

There’s been discussion on CC about how styling houses crib their own style. Back then, the competitive edge for carrozzerie was to have an appealing signature style. The best of the styling houses had multiple simultaneous styles, so their offerings contained more variety. And more depth; they could take a rear end like this and re-interpret it successfully many times over, such is the strength of the styling conceit.

250PFc

Well, that was Ferrari at Como Park. Feeling a bit consumptive? Next up: the raw fibre of an SBC 327.