Design & Refine

Sergio Pininfarina bought this 330 GTC to use as a test bed for new ideas.

June 8, 2017
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The 1960s were a decade of great creativity for automobile designers worldwide. At a time when few safety restrictions were imposed and pollution-control regulations were in their infancy, designers still enjoyed free rein and created some of the most beautiful cars ever seen—before or since.

That was certainly the case in Italy, particularly at Carrozzeria Pininfarina in Turin. In 1961, company founder Battista Pininfarina retired and handed over the business to his only son, Sergio, then 35 years old. Although Sergio, an engineer who had joined the company in 1950, had served as the liaison between his father’s company and Ferrari for nearly a decade, his own early attempts at car design did not go so smoothly. He had been given the task of designing a one-off Ferrari for none other than Giovanni “Gianni” Agnelli, the head of FIAT, and the outcome was less than satisfactory. In fact, after Agnelli’s 400 Superamerica was shown at the 1959 Turin Auto Show, the new owner returned the car to Pininfarina for body modifications. Battista was furious with his son, and Sergio was left waiting for a new opportunity to prove his talent.

That chance came a few years later, when Enzo Ferrari decided to create a new model that would fit between the sporting 275 GTB and the touring-oriented 330 GT 2+2. The 330 GTC would utilize the chassis of the former and the engine of the latter, and promised a comfortable yet still sporty two-seat experience. Working with his brother in-law Renzo Carli, also an engineer, Sergio came up with a pleasing design that incorporated many successful elements from designs past. The new model borrowed the tail of the 275 GTS in its entirety, a nose modeled on that of the 500 Superfast, and front fenders lifted from the 330 GT 2+2. The resulting 330 GTC exuded elegance, courtesy of that magic only the Italians seem to possess.

While doing research for my new book on the 330 GTC, to be released later this year, I came across this unique specimen. Pininfarina, pleased by his success, acquired our featured car (s/n 8727, the fourth example made, hence the Pininfarina construction number CO 004) from Ferrari in order to continue development of the model, and, with luck, extend the production of bodies his firm was supplying.

PININFARINA’S INTERIOR CHANGES were aimed at making s/n 8727 more comfortable. Instead of the usual leather, Sergio covered the seats in cloth, which is softer and, during Italy’s hot summers, cooler to sit on. That material, which later became an option on the production 330 GTC, was most likely obtained from longtime customer Peugeot, as the two companies enjoyed a long and fruitful working relationship. (Enzo Ferrari also used cloth obtained from Peugeot to upholster one of his personal cars.) A light blue cloth was chosen to match the dark Blu Scuro exterior paint, a personal favorite of Sergio’s.

S/n 8727’s windshield air vents were modified so that two circular outlets were now positioned on top of the dashboard. Air could be directed efficiently to any location as needed, and the new design would be used on the 330’s replacement, the 365 GTC.

Pininfarina also developed a new way to open and close the vent windows. Round knobs had been used on previous models, but they were awkward to operate, so were replaced with a simple lever. Unfortunately, the new system’s complicated internal mechanism was considerably more expensive to manufacture and complicated to install, so never went into production.

Also from Issue 159

  • 360 Spider with stick-shift
  • 485-hp 308 GTS QV
  • Daytona restoration
  • 333 SP
  • F1: Ferrari wins!
  • FORZA Tifosi Challenge: F430 to 458
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