Ferrari 365 California Spyder

Ferrari’s 365 California was, in so many ways, the culmination of Ferrari’s historically productive collaboration between sports car racing and customer road cars. Only 14 examples of the 365 California were built. They are almost invisible among the (relatively) boxcar loads of 275 GTBs and 365 GTB/4 Daytonas that Ferrari, along with Pininfarina and Scaglietti, turned out about the same time.

Not until Ferrari built the eight-cylinder 288 GTO in 1984, seventeen years in the future, would another low production, custom-built Ferrari cross Maranello’s threshold. Even today, forty years later, the 365 California is the high performance front-engined V-12 Ferrari from which today’s limited production specials take their inspiration – and a 550 Barchetta or 612 Scaglietti is commonplace compared with the fourteen 365 Californias built in 1966-67.

The 365 California was a hybrid made possible by the extraordinarily flexible combinations of its chassis, engines and drivetrains available at Ferrari. Pininfarina’s design imagination and low volume coachbuilding skills enabled Ferrari to create niche marvels that sold at breathtaking prices to a small cadre of well-heeled and discriminating clients. The 365 California established a standard of exclusivity that later Ferraris didn’t even try to meet. It was a low production, futuristically designed and styled visual masterpiece, and it had the chassis and drivetrain to back up its spaceship-like appearance. Ferrari never called it a “Spyder” or a “GT.” It is simply a “365 California” – an elegantly simple name.

The 365 California took its inspiration from Ferrari’s 365 P and 365 P2/3 prototypes, the organically beautiful, rounded, svelte mid-engined prototype racing counterparts sold to client teams and concessionaires in lieu of the factory’s 330 P, P3 and P3/4 endurance racing coupés. The 365 P series was little different from the 330 P other than in their 4.4-litre engines which were carburetted and less highly tuned than the Lucas fuel injected 4-litre 330 P series. The 365 and 330 Ps’ chassis and bodies were essentially identical, employing Pininfarina’s empirical understanding of aerodynamics in the ultimate expression of soft, rounded, organic shapes, resulting in the blossoming of cars that were as attractive as their performance.

Pininfarina’s coachwork took its cues from the mid-engined 330 P and 365 P prototypes, translating them successfully to the soft top, front-engine idiom of the 365 California. Some observers note the scooped-out rear fender brake ducts which contain the door handles as a precursor of the later Dinos but fail to see their presentation as a successor element of the 365 P and 330 P prototypes. The 365 California’s nose and tail translate almost directly from the 500 Superamerica, combining the classic Pininfarina oval air intake with egg crate grille and centered Cavallino Rampante, individual front bumpers flanking the air intake and seductively-shaped rear deck with cut-off Kamm tail.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in October of 2010 at the Battersea Evolution, London.

320 bhp, 4,390 cc single camshaft overhead V-12 engine, three Weber 40DFI dual choke downdraught carburettors, five-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live axle rear suspension with coil springs, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 104.3"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Tom Wood

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