Total Production: 500 Ferrari 365 GTC/4, 1971-1972
Though it's only a letter off from the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 a.k.a. Daytona, the GTC/4 has a personality all its own. On the surface, the GTC/4 seems little more than a softened take on the Daytona theme. But the car has unique merits and deserves to be recognized as a brilliant grand tourer in its own right and not just as an easy to live with plaything for the rich.
While the GTC/4 will never command the same respect as a Daytona, it is an undoubtedly important car in Ferrari's history. The GTC/4 marked the turn of a new era for the Maranello-based firm.
In 1971, the year of the GTC/4's introduction, Fiat purchased a 40% stake of Ferrari under the guidance of Gianni Agnelli. This Ferrari was one of the first of the fabled manufacturer's creations to be produced by a no-longer independent company.
Purists may cry at the loss of independence to such a pedestrian car builder. As expected, Fiat brought an end to many of Ferrari's wasteful but delightfully extravagant habits. A period of dazzling one-offs and show cars was succeeded by a newfound consistency that only an expert in mass-production could bring. All this startled Ferrari faithful.
Though nobody can be blamed for lamenting the loss of some of the charisma that once characterized Ferrari, it has to be said that Fiat's buying into the company was no bad idea. Enzo Ferrari knew how to race cars, and he did a great job learning how to build them as well. He wasn't a businessman in the same vein as Gianni Agnelli, though. Great car manufactures have come and gone, but thanks to Fiat's intervention, Ferrari is poised to remain a world leader secure in both its historical and financial success.
Now back to 1971. Under Ferrari's new dependence, the GTC/4 was introduced in March at the Geneva Motor Show. Sharing mechanical similarities with the Daytona, the GTC/4 rode on a wheelbase of an extra 100mm and was sheathed in crisply pleated Pininfarina lines with just enough curvature to soften their visual impact.
Under the sheet metal was an all-alloy V12, mounted up front in the manner of a traditional Ferrari GT. It displaced 4.4L and boasted a compression ratio of 8.8:1. With two Marelli distributors, four camshafts, and six Weber carbs, the engine was able to produce a hearty 340hp at 6,800rpm. Torque was rated at 318lb-ft at 4,000rpm. These numbers were impressive, and remain so even today, for a naturally aspirated mill of relatively modest displacement.
Controlling the flow of power to the rear axle was a 5-speed with synchros for all gears. The car was suspended by an independent layout of unequal-length control arms at all corners. Four-wheel vented discs were standard fare.
Few concessions to Fiat's new leadership could be found in the mechanicals, most of which were familiar Ferrari touches. A couple giveaways of Fiat's desire to make this car's driving experience more accessible, though, could be found in the GTC/4's self-leveling rear suspension and ZF power steering. Both were standard, and both were hated by purists as much as they were loved by the American market.
Two rear seats were included with the GTC/4. These uninhabitable perches added little practicality to the Ferrari, but their presence has established the GTC/4 as a legitimate predecessor of the 400, 412, 456, and current 612 Scaglietti.
Rear seats and power steering aside, the GTC/4 looked and drove like a real Ferrari. It was the first production Ferrari to have a design aided by Pininfarina's new wind tunnel. The resulting shape had proportions a tad more relaxed than the Daytona, with a purity rivaled by few other 1970's exotics. Five-spoke Cromodora rims finished off the corners with the same clean detail. Four tail pipes trumpeted the GTC/4's arrival while complimenting the circular taillights.
This Ferrari's design has aged well. The body's beltline follows cleanly from the sweeping hood, and swoops down at the front windows before sloping back up at the rear quarter windows and ending crisply as it converges with the fastback roofline. In the process, distinctly triangular quarter windows are formed. The door handles, though used on many other Pininfarina designs including mass-produced cars like the Alfa Romeo Spider, carry the triangular theme and work surprisingly well for parts-bin pieces.
The bumpers themselves are great accomplishments. Federal safety regulations were growing relentless by the 1970's. Most companies assumed that to keep passengers safe, a car's design must inevitably suffer. Bumpers got bigger and cars got blockier. Ferrari's approach to the dreaded rubber bumper mandate, though, proved the existence of stylish means with which to counter strict new regulations. The GTC/4's rear bumper was light, delicate, and clean, free of fuss and well-incorporated with the design. Up front, the situation was even better. A matte black ring offsetting the sparkling grille, the front bumper was seamless in its execution and matched the GTC/4's design perfectly.
From any angle, the GTC/4 stands ready to cut into the landscape and turn miles into memories. An honest grand tourer, it can hold 27.6 gallons of fuel. With its power steering and sophisticated suspension, the GTC/4 can cruise effortlessly on the interstate. Maybe it lacks some of the soul of its ancestors. It remains, though, a perfect balance of Ferrari firepower and cool calm. An ideal car for the American market, Ferrari produced 500 of them in just two years. Whether viewed as a saving grace for Ferrari or as a diluted interpretation of a once pure brand, the GTC/4 defined a new age for its parent company. Sources:
Donnelly, Jim; Spiro, Don. 'Ferrari 365 GTC/4 .' Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car Feb 2009: 18-23.
Charman, Andrew. Ferrari. First. Bath, UK: Parragon Publishing, 2005.
'Details.' Ferrari 365 GTC/4 2006 4 Mar 2009 http://www.365gtc4.com/Reference/.By Evan Acuña