Lifestyle

Swinging '60s Spyder


With its powerful V12, the 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS Spyder was the epitome of mid-'60s Italian supercar styling

The 330 Coupe was unveiled in Geneva in March 1966, while the seductive Spyder appeared at the Paris Auto Salon six months later. Styled and built by Pininfarina, the 330 GTC and GTS were new models to the range, rather than replacements.

The 330 GTS was a subtle blend of the 275 Spyder body with front end styling derived from the 400 Superamerica. The chassis was an extension of the 275 design, with the type 209 V12 engine originating in the 330 GT 2+2. Yet, whereas the 330 2+2 had an engine-mounted gearbox, the 330 coupe and Spyder followed the innovations of independent suspension and rear-mounted, 5-speed transaxle introduced on the 275 Berlinetta in 1964. But unlike the earlier 275 with its flexible open drive shaft, the 330 C and S had a torque tube driveshaft rigidly connecting the engine and transaxle.

Fitted with a characteristic, shallow egg crate grille, the 330 GTS was the epitome of mid-'60s Italian supercar styling. Top speed was over 150 mph, with a 0-60 time of 6.9 seconds. As for driving, in July 1967, Car & Driver summed up the experience in a 330 GTC by saying "Depress clutch...Turn ignition key. Give the gas a tiny, nervous touch. Oh my GOD!" Now, just bump that up a notch or two for the GTS.

With its powerful V12, the Ferrari 330 GTC and GTS earned the appellation of being one of the finest road-going Ferraris built up to that time. The full convertible GTS only adds to that impression. Only 99 330 convertibles were built from late 1966 through the fall of 1968, making this sale an opportunity to become the owner of a low-production open Ferrari.

This 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS, in Rosso Corsa, has been driven sparingly since joining the Ponder collection, and remains in well-maintained cosmetic and mechanical condition. It was treated to an extensive restoration some time ago, and as a result, the interior and engine bay are in impressive condition. The burled wood dash is lovely, the instrumentation is crisp, and the wood-rimmed steering wheel looks like new. The black and red leather upholstery, though not factory correct, is equally presentable and shows only limited wear.

Under the hood, the Ferrari's V12 looks as though it was recently restored, as it is very nicely detailed. The 330 GTS has amassed 27,703 miles, which is believed to be accurate. It comes with a proper tool kit as well as the owner's manual. Each year, these models continue to appreciate in value and desirability, and their price has become relatively reasonable given the increases in many other Ferrari models.

The SCM Analysis

This convertible sold for $418,000 at RM's April 2007 auction at the Gene Ponder estate in Marshall, Texas. The price fell below that of comparable cars at some recent auctions and came at the low end of the estimate. On the other hand, close to a half-million isn't small change. But what makes these Spyders worth close to a half-million?

If you must have a true convertible V12 Ferrari of the pre-2000 era, and $500,000 is your limit, your choices are limited. The PF Cab Series II, the 275 GTS, and the 330 GTS are the only ones you can afford. This is a total production of 500 cars, of which approximately 470 are extant. This is not a large number; Chevrolet built 14,436 Corvette Sting Ray convertibles in 1967.

The 330 GTS was the most mechanically advanced of these three Ferraris, with sparkling performance, although visually it lacks the striking covered headlights of the earlier 275 GTB coupes. The 330 GTS has all the 275 Berlinetta chassis specs, clothed in a superbly built Pininfarina body with a/c and power windows. As Road & Track said in August 1968, "Though the 330 GTS is a luxurious car...it's a Ferrari sports car through and through."

A great everyday Ferrari

These make a great "everyday" car, if your budget runs to such luxury. As Dyke Ridgley, ex-President of the Ferrari Club and Spyder owner for 40 years, said in an article in 2000, "these are really pleasant cars...they have one of the best folding tops ever made. It's the Ferrari we take if we just want a pleasant drive in the country." Harry Mathews, another SCMer and a prominent collector, says the 330 GTS is his favorite older Ferrari, combining beautiful styling and a comfortable and roomy interior with a great-sounding V12. He frequently drives this car at vintage rallies all over the U.S.

So there is another subtle factor favoring these cars -- customer expectations. The success of a product depends not so much on the technicalities of the product but on the customer's expectations of it. As the owner of both a 275 Berlinetta and a 275 Spyder, I can attest that most drivers don't expect the carefully styled and luxuriously appointed Spyders to have such outstanding performance and handling. Spyders are not as intimidating as the racy Berlinettas, but boy, do they go.

While not all owners have kept them for 40 years, there are a lot of 20-plus-year owners who keep a Spyder around simply for the top-down Sunday spin. There are few on the market, so the third aspect of rarity comes into play. Rarity is not only measured by 1) production or 2) survivability, but thirdly by availability. And the turnover is very limited for the 95 survivors.

Three reasons for the result

But why didn't this Spyder sell closer to the top of the estimates? Three reasons come to mind.

1. The very well done but not original red interior with black seat inserts. Ed Waterman, who has been selling Ferraris for 40 years, called it "borderline offensive." It was too garish for some Ferrari fans, yet $8,000 to $10,000 would restore it to its original configuration.

2. Another problem was the lack of any details on the "some time ago restoration." The RM catalog was very thorough, and the lack of information was noteworthy.

3. Finally, one key detail; when the car was advertised for sale in New Jersey in 2000, it had engine #9823, a proper 209-type from a 330 2+2. The prospect of a replacement engine invariably causes controversy and a price reduction, as was the case here. Since the FCA deducts only 1 out of 100 points at its concours for a non-original engine, some feel the penalty is small. But see "You Write" in SCM's November 2006 issue, p. 16, for Simon Kidston's letter on the Monaco Lusso, where he estimated the discount on that car at $128,000 for a non-original engine. (Incidentally, I confirmed the engine swap later but was not able to verify the engine number before the sale; despite several visits, the hood was never up, and after carefully opening it, I got only one photo before the guard informed me that I was not to touch the cars and if I persisted, I would be asked to leave. If you are a bidder, always get someone from the auction company to assist you in the inspection).

So, if you don't mind that the engine is non-original, and if you have a great leather man handy, and if the restoration was done by a competent Ferrari mechanic, this car could be a great buy. Add to this equation the fact that Ponder was a sophisticated collector, and one could reasonably assume he kept this car in top fettle.

All things considered, someone took a reasonable enough gamble on the three "ifs" noted above, especially given the way the current market is moving.

Years Produced: 1966-68

Number Produced: 99

Original List Price: $16,426

SCM Valuation: $400,000 -- $500,000 (at time of print)

Tune-up Cost: $3,500

Distributor Caps: $450 (two required)

Chassis #: 11021

Chassis # Location: Left frame member by steering box

Engine # Location: Right rear on motor mount

Club Info: Ferrari Club of America, Atlanta, GA

Web Site: http://www.ferrariclubofamerica.org

Alternatives: 1964-66 Ferrari 275 GTS, Aston-Martin DB5 Volante, 1968 -- 73 Daytona Spyder Conversion

Investment Grade: B


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