When I first met this 330 GTS (s/n 09627), it was skewered like a chicken on a chassis rotisserie at Scott Drnek’s Virtuoso Performance shop in Hayward, California, on the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay. Covered in grey epoxy, the Ferrari’s stripped skin and bones felt a bit pathetic, and very far removed from the silver-blue Azzurro beauty this car had been when it was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show 45 years ago.
S/n 09627’s current owner, Steve Thein, a San Diego-based Ph.D. involved in the study of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, used to own a 330 GTC, but for years had wanted an open-air GTS. When the opportunity arose in 2009, he sold the former to buy the latter, the 13th of 100 330 GTS’s produced between 1966 and ’68. While it had history, the Ferrari was black and a bit grungy at the time. Thein wanted to return it to factory-fresh, Geneva ’67 condition, so he turned to Drnek, who had been maintaining Thein’s historic racing cars for more than a dozen years.
“When we got the GTS,” says Drnek, “it looked like it’d led an illustrious life and had plenty of stories to tell. The black paint job on it wasn’t very good, the panel fit wasn’t very good and most of the details—like the way it looked under the hood and trunk—were beat up. There was a fair amount of surface corrosion. It was a pretty car, but it was an old car, so we had plenty of work to do.”
TO KICK OFF THIS RESTORATION, Drnek and crew began by photographing everything, recording crucial evidence about what was brought in and how it had to go back together. This documentation would continue throughout the car’s stay at Virtuoso: More than 1,200 pictures would be shot from the time the project commenced in July 2009 until it was completed in April 2012.
Next, Virtuoso’s body and paint specialist, Charles Fernandes, disassembled the Ferrari. “Every nut and bolt came out of this car,” Fernandes tells me. “We had a couple of guys pull the engine, and we pulled all the wiring out.”
While taking a car apart is usually easier than putting it back together, the Virtuoso crew ran into several challenges with s/n 09627. “The wheel bearings were frozen onto the front spindles with a force we had never seen before,” says Drnek. “The Ferrari pulling tools would not take them apart—nothing would take them apart. We ended up making a special carbide long-end mill that allowed us to reach down inside the hub assembly and machine away part of the bearing, so we could destructively disassemble the bearing to get the two parts separated without damaging the spindle.
“Another problem we had was on the engine, with corrosion between the cylinder head studs and the heads. Removing the heads required making a special tool that would allow us to put in bolts that would push down on the studs to carefully remove the heads without warping or damaging them.”