1969 Ferrari 365 GTC
“It has since been referred to as ‘the best all-round Ferrari’. While its styling is understated in the best Pininfarina grand touring mode… it is, from the occupants’ view, a superb means of getting from point A to point B” – Marque expert Stanley Nowak sums up the GTC in ‘Ferrari – Forty Years on the Road’ (1988)
With a supremely elegant body designed and built by Pininfarina, the Ferrari 365 GTC was a powerful Grand Tourer in the finest tradition of the marque.
The spiritual heirs to the legendary 250 GT Lusso, the mid-60s 330 and 365 GTC were compact and masculine two-seaters with ample room for the luggage and accompaniments befitting a week touring the Italian Lakes or the wineries of Northern California. As a final, 4.4-litre 365, the GTC not only boasted 320bhp, but its 10 per cent extra torque endowed it with even stronger mid-range acceleration.
The GTC family was a favourite with Ferrari’s usual roster of VIP customers. Eric Clapton owned a 365 and our client – a prominent contemporary musician – has enjoyed this car greatly, including a trans-European drive back from its spiritual home of Maranello.
The Ferrari 365 GTC
By the middle of the 1960s, Ferrari’s 250 and 275 series of GTs had established themselves as world-beating cars on the race track and the new network of high-speed roads running throughout Europe to the hot-spots of St Moritz, the Italian Riviera and the Côte d’Azur.
Ferrari recognised that these sometimes uncompromising berlinettas needed new companions in its range, models better-suited for fast touring with larger, less-stressed engines and more generous accommodation. The result was launched at the Geneva Salon in March 1966: the Ferrari 330 GTC.
Designed by Pininfarina – who also built its body to the highest standards in Turin – the new Ferrari combined the Tipo 209 3,967c V12 of the 330 GT 2+2 with the short-wheelbase chassis of the 275 GTB and GTS. And like the ferocious Berlinetta, the new GTC had independent suspension and a rear-mounted, five-speed transaxle that gave it near-enough 50:50 weight distribution.
Pininfarina’s gorgeous lines evoked its design for that ‘Car of Kings’, the 500 Superfast. The new GTC ran on 14in Campagnolo alloy wheels slotted to aid cooling and generously shod with the latest Michelin XWX tyres. Borrani alloy-rimmed wires were an option. In an early test, ex-Grand Prix driver and Le Mans winner Paul Frère enthused: “It tracks with about the same precision as a modern race car... at this speed [146mph] the vehicle was still perceptibly accelerating...”
Production of the 330 GTC continued until the end of 1968 by which time some 600 were sold. It was replaced by the 365 GTC, visually almost identical but now having engine compartment vents just in front of the windscreen, rather than behind the front wheels. The headline news was the adoption of the bored-out, more torquey Tipo 245 C, 4,390cc motor from the 365 GT 2+2.
An increase in 20bhp was useful, but the greater flexibility thanks to a 10 per cent increase in torque made the 365 a punchier performer.
Most sources agree that c. 150 365 GTCs were built, mainly in 1969, before it was effectively outlawed in the USA. Ferrari then entered a period of hiatus as American emissions requirements made it hard for any cars not specifically designed for the US to be sold there. Its replacement, the 365 GTC/4, did not make its debut until 1971.
This Motor Car
According to factory records, chassis 12359 was delivered new to official Turin agent Italcar SpA in June 1969. It was ordered in Grigio Ortello (2.443.813) with beige (Connolly VM 3234) leather and came with air conditioning and instruments in kilometres.
Although the records and specialist research suggest the first owner was Northern Italian aristocrat Marchese Gianfranco Selvatico Estense, in a recent conversation the marquis – a friend of Kidston SA whose family has links with the Imola racing circuit – did not recall owning the car until the early 1970s. In late 1974 Selvatico Estense sold ‘12359’ to Bologna-domiciled American Michael Lederman, variously described as a ‘student’ or a ‘lieutenant’ (presumably in the US Army).
Whatever his official status, Lederman was also something of an entrepreneur, trading Italian high-performance cars to the US as the ‘Society of Sportscar Specialists’ (SSCS). Lederman offered ‘12359’ to fellow American First Lieutenant William G Blissett, then stationed in Germany. Its odometer reading was “under 45,000km”. The deal went through in early 1975 and the car was shipped to New York in April that year, subsequently registered ‘AHQ 480’ in Blissett’s name in the state of Oregon.
Soon to be promoted to Captain, Blissett continued to complete three-year tours of duty in Germany into the 1980s, but all the while the car remained in North America. He was an enthusiastic member of the Ferrari Owners Club in both the UK and USA, and copies of correspondence between Capt. Blissett and the clubs accompany the car. Period photographs show it registered ‘SNZ 757’ when in his care. Whilst living in Virginia Beach, VA, on 24 October 1989, Blissett sold ‘12359’ to Ed Niles, the LA-based attorney well-known as a Ferrari expert and connoisseur, who repainted it red.
Niles kept ‘12359’ for a couple of years before selling it at auction to another fine judge (literally, he is on the Board of Directors of the 2019 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance) of Ferraris, Frank C ‘Duke’ Steinemann, who owned the car – still red – for six years, selling it in July 1997. The odometer showed 61,000km. Maryland resident Tim Weglicki became the next owner and was to enjoy ‘12359’ from October 1997 to more recent times when our client repatriated the car to Europe.
Presented with a rare and very original Ferrari with mostly unbroken history, the current owner commissioned Ferrari Classiche to carry out restoration as required, returning ‘12359’ to ‘as delivered’ in 1969. The comprehensive list of work included:
Carefully strip all existing paint using the gentle and sympathetic ‘water method’; correct any panelwork; repaint; fit new windscreen and rubbers; supply and fit new front bumpers.
Machine flywheel and fit new clutch; overhaul carburettors and distributors; fit new coils and spark plug leads; fit various new gaskets; fit new exhaust manifolds; clean and repaint engine where necessary before reinstallation; carry out complete service.
Overhaul front and rear calipers; fit new front discs and pads; replace pipes as necessary.
Overhaul springs and dampers; replace various bolts, nuts and bushes.
Restore steering wheel.
Fit new headlights, new battery and new European rear lights; replace all spark plug leads and associated supports.
Fit new water radiator; overhaul cooling system including fans; re-gas and test a/c.
Supply and fit new carpets; renovate dashboard wood; clean and renovate original leather; reupholster dashboard and upper cockpit.
In addition, five new tyres were fitted and many other parts rechromed – at a cost for the latter of €22,295. The total bill came to €286,369 and the work was completed in June 2017.
The result is as good as anything we have seen, the original beige interior complementing the gleaming exterior now correctly finished in lustrous Grigio Ortello. Copies of many period documents accompany the car together, of course, with a Ferrari Classiche Red Book and certificate dated 12 December 2017. The odometer reads just 77,650km, quite possibly the total distance covered from new.
Currently owned and enjoyed by a British musician with a passion for Italian sports cars, freshly restored by Ferrari Classiche and as exciting as a sharply executed solo, this UK registered 365 GTC is ready for its next owner to let the good times roll.