Cavallino 30 Spotlights the 330 GTC and GTS

Jim Weed

Volume 45 Issue 26

Dec 20, 2020

Jim Weed reviews the 330 GTC and GTS in advance of the 2021 Cavallino Classic

    The 330 GTC is one of Pininfarina’s most beautiful designs. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder there is an understated elegance in the gentle curves that surround the headlights and grille. The look of the fenders that flow towards the rounded rear of the bodywork.

    The enclosed cockpit covered with a roof seemingly suspended by air with the thinnest of structure holding it up. The tailored suit that covers the body does not reveal the muscular capabilities that lie below the surface.

    To fully understand the 330 GTC one must backtrack into Ferrari history to find the various parts that had to come together to create this special vehicle.

 

 

    The collaboration between Ferrari and Pininfarina allowed Pininfarina to enjoy a certain amount of freedom in design. Using a Ferrari chassis and having special customers who would enjoy a unique vehicle gave Pininfarina the ability to experiment with various thoughts in developing new and creative directions.

    While Ferrari had Pininfarina pen the shapes of various street and race Ferraris these designs had to maintain a certain amount of normalcy. The 250 GT SWB Berlinetta, Spyder California, Lusso and 250 GTE all had Pininfarina’s touch; they were not groundbreaking designs.

    There had to be something special, something unique, something that could be experimented with to try out new ideas.

    Ferrari could provide the platform Pininfarina needed for just those experiments. Ferrari had clients that could afford something special, something unique, something that harkened back to the days of custom coachbuilders. The Superamerica filled those needs.

    The chassis and engine were unique. The engines were the largest and most powerful Ferrari could build, at least for street cars. The 410 and 400 Superamerica series were the canvas Ferrari provided to Pininfarina. It was the freedom to design, to try new ideas and experiment using customers who were looking to drive unique automobiles.

    By the early 1960s, custom coachbuilding was not as popular as it had been. This did not stop Ferrari in continuing to produce a limited production model like the 1964 500 Superfast. The styling evolution of the 400 Superamerica series had elongated the nose and accentuated the oval grille. Headlights were set slightly back into the fenders but not far enough to be covered.

    The roof was attached by the thinnest of pillars while the rear sloped downward to create a pointed back end. Thus, it was this design that formed the basis of the 500 Superfast.

    It was the Superfast front look that was carried over to the new coupe Pininfarina designed as a 1966 model. The roof design was also brought forward and mated to the rear design of the existing 275 GTS.

    The 330 GTC was born with the design of the 500 Superfast front and roof line and the rear design of the 275 GTS. The best of each design element brought together to create one of Pininfiarina’s best-looking coupes ever made.

    Production started in early 1966 and over nearly two years 600 examples were made.

    The 330 GTS eliminated the roof and looked very similar to the 275 GTS from the rear. The front was unchanged from the GTC and is one of the prettiest spyders ever made. Everything about these cars shout 1960s, when style and elegance ruled over functionality and aerodynamics.

    The 330 GTS was in production for a year and 99 examples were made making this model not only pretty but rare.

 

 

    What really makes the 330 GTC special are the mechanical innovations.

    The engine is the same as the 330 GT 2+2, or at least the late 2+2s. It is a Columbo-design V-12 of 4-liters. The single overhead camshafts are driven by a timing chain and actuate two valves per cylinder. Three carburetors feed air and fuel into the cylinders while individual header pipes send the exhaust through the dual exhaust.

    The real innovation to the engine was the change from four motor mounts to two. The 330 GTC was designed to have a torque tube connecting the engine rigidly to the transaxle. This feature was designed into the GTC first and was quickly adapted to the 275 GTB. Production began on 330 GTCs in February 1966 and the 275 GTBs also transitioned to the same technology.

 

 

    The transaxle unit was similar to the 275 GTB with five fully synchronized forward speeds and reverse. In fact, the transaxles are so similar they can be interchanged without modifications.

    The suspension on the GTC followed the same layout as the 275 GTB with stamped steel control arms and independent suspension on all four corners. Many of the parts do interchange with its sportier brother.

    It is surprising how many parts are common between the two cars. Ferrari often would create designs that could interchange between models. It shows how a small company like Ferrari would innovate high quality components and then utilize them across several platforms.

    One area that did not transfer over from the 275 series was the braking system. There were still four-wheel disc brakes, but now supplied by Girling. New calipers were a three-piston design and more efficient. The discs were solid without ventilation holes.

    What we see here is a Pininfarina built two-door coupe that is very similar to the Scaglietti built Berlinetta. Both cars have a V-12 engine; the 275 being a 3.3-liter with 280hp and the 330 GTC having a full 4-liters with 300hp. Both have independent suspension and a transaxle at the rear for weight distribution.

 

 

    The top speeds for each are given as 245khp (152mph) for the 330 and 265kph (164mph) for the 275. Clearly, both cars have the right components; the difference must be in aerodynamics. The 275 GTB is more efficient at high speeds.

    The wheelbase for each car is the same at 2,400 mm and the weight of the GTC is about 200kg (100 lbs) more. These differences are relatively minor.

    I bring these points up as a comparison between two very different looking cars. It would be easy to assume the 275 GTB is a much better performing vehicle and there is no doubt the 275 GTB wears the more aggressive clothes; underneath it all the 330 GTC has all the thoroughbred characteristics necessary to be a blast to drive.

    I have driven many different 330 GTCs on both the street and track. I can tell you the experience of a GTC is one not to be forgotten. They are smooth driving and handle well.

    Corners can be taken with a minimum of lean and the back end will step out very predictably when pushed too hard in the turn. A roll into the throttle will settle the back end nicely.

    The transaxle, like most Ferraris, must be warmed up before it should be pushed into second gear. Shift from first directly into third until engine oil temperature begins to show on the gauge. Yes, the engine oil is a long way from the transaxle but by the time the engine is warm the transaxle should have had a chance to get the oil flowing. With the transaxle warm the GTC is a joy to run through the gears, up or down.

    Because the brake calipers are slightly newer technology, and Girling, the effort is much smoother. I believe they stop quicker, but even if they don’t, the entire stopping experience delivers a high degree of confidence regardless of speed. Like most brakes of the era, they can be used to the point of fade, but the recovery time seems to be quicker even if the GTC is heavier than the 275 GTB.

 

 

    The 330 GTC and its Spyder version, the 330 GTS, are wonderful cars to experience. Light on the controls, with a large airy cockpit, it is a joy to drive. Both handle well with plenty of power on tap. Best of all is the lovely Pininfarina body with its well laid-out interior and appointments.

    Like most Ferrari models there were improvements along the way. Late production cars have features that enhance the driving experience. The clutch actuation system changed from hydraulic to a cable design. While it might seem this change would make it harder to push the clutch, the change really gave a much better feel to the release point.

    Another improvement was a change to the rear half shafts from U-joints and sliding Hardy-Spicer shaft to constant velocity half shafts. The C/V joints provide a smooth transfer of power over the U-joints. These changes were also incorporated in the next model, the 365 GTC and GTS.

    A detailed analysis of the driving characteristics between the 330 and 365 will have to be another article. In the meantime, enjoy looking at the 330 GTC; one of the featured models at the upcoming Cavallino 30, January 21st to 24th, 2021 in West Palm Beach, Florida.

    See you there!