The Long Game

They may be Ferrari’s two largest cars, but the 365 GT 2+2 and FF drive like much smaller machines.

March 1, 2013
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Forty-five years separate the Ferrari FF and 1967 365 GT 2+2 shown here, and their respective specifications tell the story. For example, the 365 GT 2+2’s chassis, suspension members and bodywork (aside from hood and truck lid) are made of steel; the FF is constructed entirely of aluminum. The modern car’s 6.3-liter engine produces 660 horsepower, versus just 320 ponies from the older one’s 4.4-liter unit. The 365 GT 2+2’s 12.4-inch front steel brake rotors are 38-percent smaller than the carbon-ceramic items found on the FF. The list goes on and on.

But I wouldn’t have arranged this family reunion if there weren’t a number of similarities between the two Ferraris, as well. First, both are powered by front-mounted V12 engines. Second, these are big cars by Ferrari standards. At 195.8 inches long, the 365 GT 2+2 is the largest Ferrari ever built—back in 1969, Road & Track dubbed it “The Queen Mother of Ferraris,” a moniker which has stuck to this day—and is more than two inches longer than the FF. They’re heavy, too: Ferrari claims a curb weight of 4,145 pounds for the FF, while R&T’s Queen Mother test car weighed in at 4,020 pounds.

The most important similarity, of course, is that the 365 GT 2+2 and FF each have four seats. To some enthusiasts, Ferrari’s 2+2s are something less than “real” Ferraris, since they’re slower and less sporting than their two-seat counterparts, and usually aren’t as aesthetically pleasing. But those people who buy these cars (and a lot do; in its day, Ferrari’s first four-seater, the 250 GT 2+2, was the company’s best-selling model ever) usually have a very different take. In abandoning the quest for ultimate performance, Ferrari has created a line of cars that offers a more comfortable and relaxed driving experience, one that’s better suited for regular use and longer miles.

“The 365 GT 2+2 is to automobiles what Abe Lincoln was to men—that is to say, great,” concluded R&T in its review. “It will do almost anything an automobile would be asked to do: cruise at 150 mph, creep along in traffic, carry the wife and kids shopping or on a cross-country trip—all in air-conditioned comfort.”

That’s high praise, and it made me wonder if the Queen Mother would still drive as sweetly today—and, of course, if there were any on-road similarities between the vintage Ferrari and its modern-day descendant. There was only one way to find out.

COMPARED TO ITS PREDECESSOR, the upright and understated 330 GT 2+2, the 365 GT 2+2 that debuted at the 1967 Paris Auto Show was low, long and unapologetically swoopy. Its flowing lines weren’t entirely new; the design was inspired by the one-off 330 Speciale built for Belgium’s Princess Lilian de Rethy [“Royal Treatment,” FORZA #58] and the limited-production 500 Superfast. The 365 GT 2+2’s profile is smooth and handsome, challenged only by the sharp angles of the C-pillars. But that shape mimics the buttresses found on the 330 Speciale, which was also the source of the 365 GT 2+2’s distinctive taillight treatment.

The FF’s shooting-brake silhouette wasn’t inspired by an earlier car. Instead, its long roof was judged the best way to increase rear-seat headroom and luggage space without increasing the overall size of the car compared to its own predecessor, the 612 Scaglietti. The FF was a polarizing design when first seen at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show, as well as a significant visual departure from the 612, but it seems to have become more accepted over the last couple of years. I’ve always liked the overall shape, particularly since the FF appears smaller in person than photos suggest. However, the model definitely looks better in more subdued colors.

Also from Issue 125

  • 40 years with a 250 GT 2+2
  • Paul Newman and Budweiser race a 308 GTB
  • Rediscovering a Monza’s lost racing years
  • Ferrari-racing playboy Porfirio Rubirosa
  • Ferrari’s Grand-Am title defense for 2013
  • F1: Ferrari unveils the F138
  • Market Update: Vintage up, modern down
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