Exactly 20 years ago, I wrote this lead to the “Shifting Gears” column for the March 1999 issue of Sports Car Market: Would you have bought it anyway? That’s what we seem to be asked most frequently about our 1964 Ferrari 330 America, pulled from a barn in Butte, MT, last October. As the bills pile up, and the car remains stationary, that’s a fair question. Since taking delivery of s/n 330GT5077, we’ve had Nasko of Nasko’s Imports put in a new voltage regulator ($80), install a new clutch and pressure plate ($1,400) and rebuild the mechanical fuel pump (parts from T. Rutlands in Georgia). Then the car was off to Guy’s Interior Restorations to have the front seats re-covered, new carpets fabricated, the door panels tidied up and the electrical system de-spooked ($2,500). New P215/70R Grand Am Radial GT tires were another $300 item, and having the shocks rebuilt by Truechoice Inc. added $850 to the bill. We’re planning on picking up the car next week, having cleverly arranged to keep Guy working on it all winter, thereby solving our storage problem. To our knowledge, the only problem left is the Ferrari’s habit of running its float bowls empty under continued hard acceleration. With partial throttle, it behaves properly. But after coming up a freeway onramp, if the throttle is kept open, after a mile or so it just runs out of gas and coasts silently to the side of the road, restarting after sitting by the road for a couple of minutes. Although the mechanical fuel pump has been rebuilt, the car won’t run on it alone, and the electrical pump has to be continually engaged as well. Postulating that there may be some crud in the gas tank and lines, we may ask Nasko to drop the tank and service it, a prospect which causes him to roll his eyes and ask why we didn’t buy something simple like a Maserati Ghibli. Your suggestions to our dilemma are welcome. The Ferrari smokes at idle, which has caused at least 500 Ferrari experts to offer what seems like 650 solutions, ranging from buying more oil to installing VW Rabbit valve guide seals (the indignity, really) to spending $25,000 for an engine overhaul. However, the car doesn’t seem to smoke under acceleration, and we’re not fouling plugs. So at the moment, our tendency is to just keep enriching the coffers of Valvoline, loan the Ferrari out to mosquito-abatement programs, and otherwise not think about it very much. A subscriber asked whether, knowing what we now know, we would have bought the car anyway. The answer is a simple yes. Once all the little odds and ends are added in, we’ll be in the car around $28,000 (we’ve learned that a Ferrari odd or end is a $500 piece; a Fiat odd or end only $50). There just aren’t many options when it comes to buying 12-cylinder Ferraris under $35,000, and this car seems sound enough for the price paid. If we can get it to reliably run and drive, without spending another $5,000, then we will have a decent barn-find car that has gotten back on the road, is road-worn enough to be oblivious to a rock chip here or there, and still makes great sounds as the tach whips around towards redline.

The more things change…

At first glance, boy, have things changed in 20 years. We can only dream about having this much work done on any Italian sports car — much less a Ferrari — for a measly $28,000. I bought the car for less than $35,000, so I was pretty close to sinking underwater while clutching the steering wheel back in 1999. Still, I would have done pretty well if I had just hung onto that car — and maybe used it to haul a few more loads from Costco and the hardware store. Ferrari made 50 330 Americas. According to the just-released 2019 SCM Pocket Price Guide, the current median value of that car is $412,500 — which is still a great deal for a 12-cylinder Ferrari. I took a drive into SCM’s Platinum Auction Database, and a Ferrari 330 America sold at $489,383 in May of 2016. This is not life-changing money, but it is a little tap on the shoulder from the past. If you’ve got a car you really, really like right now — and the production run was pretty small — you might be okay going a little underwater to keep that car on the road.

The more things remain the same…

I couldn’t help noticing — again — that I have a tendency to pour money into cars. This addiction to fixing everything that goes wrong in a car — especially in cars that I buy believing that they will need hardly any work at all — is one of my great failings.

It is also one of my great joys.

Regular readers know that I’ve been confessing my car sins — complete with the wallet-emptying numbers — for more than 20 years now. I’m now resisting the temptation to go back through the past 20 years of SCM and total up how much money I’ve dropped on car repairs and restorations. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to look at photos of cars that have come and gone in my car-happy life, and I’ll remember the fun of making them better. I’ll also remember the sounds, feelings and thrills of driving them on twisty two-lane roads. This is my life, and I wouldn’t change a minute of it. Okay, I’d like to have that 330 America back…. ♦

Comments are closed.