This month we finally get our hands on the new, front-engined GTC4Lusso that brings ‘unprecedented versatility to Ferrari driving’. And that’s got us thinking about one of its more illustrious and versatile predecessors, the 365 GT 2+2.
Hard to imagine now, but back in the late 1960s, Ferrari wasn’t just about sex appeal and pulse shattering performance. In 1960, the company’s 250GTE introduced a public fascinated with political and social ‘revolution’ to a more civilized form of luxury performance driving for up to four passengers, a concept that by 1968 had failed to wain: only around 800 examples of the 365 GT 2+2 you see above were built between 1968 and 1971, though this figure accounted for more than half of Ferrari’s total production during this period.
‘Civility’ though was nothing new for Enzo Ferrari, his eponymous Scuderia having exclusively designed and built V12-powered, two-seater Grand Tourers for the first 10 years of its existence since 1949, the 250 only bucking this ‘Gran Turismo’ trend in 1960. With the 365 GT 2+2 though, Ferrari once again pushed its boundaries: upon its debut at the 1968 Paris Motor Salon, the 2+2 was hailed as the largest and most luxurious Ferrari to-date.
At the base of the 365 GT 2+2 lay essentially the same wheelbase and tubular steel chassis as used by the preceding 330 GT 2+2. Tweaks to the build though meant the newboy’s wheelbase was 130mm longer than its forebear, and its Pininfarina designed bodywork considerably wider. All the better for both rear and front passenger comfort, as was the extended glass cabin profile that simultaneously improved headroom. Even the drivetrain was mounted using rubber bushes in an effort to isolate engine noise from the cabin.
This being Pininfarina though, the Italian powerhouse couldn’t help paying homage to the Ferrari heritage it had helped build with its low slung, curvaceously elegant fastback design. Ferrari fans couldn’t help but notice a strikingly resemblance to the 365 California, of which only 14 were made, while the short rear overhangs and bulkier quarter bumpers paralleled at the rear paralleled the similarly limited 500 Superfast (36 examples were produced).
So effective was the design, that little changed during the 365 GT 2+2’s tenure: our 1970 ‘Classiche’ example above boasts the optional – and more highly sought after – ‘Borrani’ wire 15in wheels rather than the standard 10-hole alloys, while the plexiglass headlight cover that originally appeared in 1968 was also gone after the first year.
Looks and additional legroom weren’t the only character traits behind this ‘refined’ Ferrari motoring though. The 365 GT 2+2 for instance was the first to offer both air-conditioning and power steering as standard to the US market when it was launched, and while the double wishbone front suspension travelled across from the earlier 330 GT 2+2, self-levelling hydro-pneumatic rear suspension made its debut courtesy of specialists Koni. The independent layout ensured that, regardless of payload or passenger girth (ahem), the ride height would not be affected. And then there was the performance.
“Only around 800 examples of the 365 GT 2+2 you see above were built between 1968 and 1971, though this figure accounted for more than half of Ferrari’s total production during this period.”
Under the bonnet lay a 4.4-litre ‘Colombo’ V12 that was capable of throwing 320bhp and 418Nm (308lb ft) of torque at the rear wheels via a five-speed, synchromesh gearbox. A sub-1500kg kerb weight also meant the 365 GT 2+2 was particularly sprightly for a ‘70 Grand Tourer: pedal to the plush carpet meant 0-100kph was completed in around 7.1 seconds and 0-160kph done in approximately 16.5 seconds en-route to a 245kph top speed. All this at a time when seatbelt use was not mandatory.
Hardly surprising then that, following the arrival of the brand new GTC4Lusso in the Middle East, that Ferrari has been keen to parallel its front-engined FF replacement with its late ‘60s forebear. Still, much like early-1970s Maranello, don’t expect the GTC4Lusso to be the start of a new renaissance: shortly after the 365 GT 2+2 arrived, so too did the first ever mid-engined Ferrari. The Dino was a fitting tribute from Enzo following the loss of his eldest son Alfredo (or ‘Alfredino’) at the age of just 24, but it was a layout that would quickly go on to dominate Ferrari’s business practice, and – with the 488 GTB – still does so today.
*Images courtesy of Awesome Group and Harisanker Photography