Robin Adams ©2016, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This GTS is a six-time Platinum Award winner with an ownership chain of just six caretakers. Just 20 365 GTSs were built, making them significantly less common than a Daytona Spyder, California Spyder or Pinin Farina cabriolet. A 365 GTS is rarely offered for public sale. This beautiful spyder now beckons its next caretaker to continue the car’s exceptional record on the show fields and at FCA events.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1969 Ferrari 365 GTS
Years Produced:1969
Number Produced:20
Original List Price:$15,900
SCM Valuation:$2,750,000
Tune Up Cost:$3,500
Distributor Caps:$195 reproduction, $450 OEM
Chassis Number Location:On frame above right front spring mount
Engine Number Location:Below head on rear passenger’s side of block
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America
Alternatives:1968 Jaguar XKE, 1969 Maserati Ghibli Spider, 1969 Aston Martin DB6 Volante, 1969 Porsche 911 S Targa

This car, Lot 263, sold for $3,602,500, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s auction in Phoenix, AZ, on January 16, 2017.

Driving a classic open-top Ferrari in the proper weather is one of the greatest pleasures of the car hobby.

By today’s standards they are not overwhelmingly fast, but that’s not the point. Touring in an open Ferrari is about adding a decibel to the exhaust, bringing the intake whoosh into the cockpit — and letting the elements erase all thoughts other than your journey.

It can be argued that all convertibles do the same cleansing of the soul, and that may be true, but a Ferrari does it better. The steering is better, the brakes are better and the sounds are incomparable. Add that to a feeling of pride that you get when you’re driving a Ferrari. It’s like wearing a great suit — it makes you look and feel your best.

A rare Ferrari

The 365 GTS is relatively unknown, but it is automobile royalty. The theme starts with the 275 GTS, an open-top model based on the iconic 275 GTB but with a more conservative body and a substantially more luxurious — make that more comfortable — interior.

There are few luxurious elements to a 275 GTS — or any of the open Ferraris. They are form-follows-function automobiles, and the function is to be a sports car. The seats may be comfortable and the trimming top quality, but except for a few Vignale examples, open-Ferrari interiors can be somewhat bland.

The 275 GTS evolved into the closed 330 GTC, another iconic Ferrari best known for Phil Hill’s declaration of it being the best Ferrari ever, but then, Phil hadn’t driven a 365 GTS at the time.

The 330 GTC is an outstanding car. It is exceptionally comfortable, easy to drive, and delivers the sounds and performance you imagine a Ferrari would give. The 330 GTS that followed was, for all intents, a 330 GTC with a convertible top.

The GTS blended all the great qualities of the GTC with the good and bad traits of a soft-top car. The result was nirvana for owners in temperate climates and a seasonal car for owners in cool climates.

More power

What makes a Ferrari better? Well, more power, of course, and the exceptional 330 GTC got better. The 4-liter, 300-hp 330 GTC/GTS had plenty of power, but Ferrari wasn’t satisfied with plenty.

Ferrari had recently introduced the 365 GT 2+2 as a successor to the 330 2+2. The 365 2+2 was larger than its predecessor, so it was given a new 4.4-liter, 320-hp engine to compensate for the weight. The new 365 engine was the same physical size as the 330 engine, so slipping it in the 330 GTC was snap.

Move a vent from the front fender to the hood, make a couple other updates — and the 330 GTC becomes the 365 GTC.

What’s good for the coupe is good for the spyder, and soon the 365 GTS followed.

The two-cam 365 engine is a masterpiece of Ferrari engineering, revving effortlessly with a shriek that sends dogs looking for cover. The increased displacement added mid-range torque, making urban driving more pleasurable. The added horsepower made a fast car even faster.

Only 20 365 GTS cars, were built, so few people have had an opportunity to drive one. Those who have report it’s one of the most rewarding cars on the planet.

Classic open Ferraris are rare

Any discussion on the value of an open-top Ferraris has to be framed with information that you may remember from an earlier article: There are “fewer than 1,000 Classic-era open-top Ferraris.”

Shelby produced more Cobras than the total of all open-top, 12-cylinder production Ferraris built from the company’s inception through 1999. The figure only exceeded 1,000 when the 550 Barchetta is added.

Even today the total is fewer than 2,000 cars.

In contrast, Jaguar made 7,800 examples of the “rare” flat-floor version of their E-type, and Mercedes-Benz built more than 1,700 300SL Roadsters.

All 12-cylinder open-top Ferraris are special, and with production numbers that are often near 100 or less, they are some of the most elusive catches on the planet.

The tiny production is contradictory to the enjoyment the cars give. Open-top Ferraris are not simply a chop-top version of a production coupe: They are well engineered and designed to be open cars. The frames and bodies are braced for topless use. While they are not as stiff as their coupe brethren, flex and cowl flutter is nearly nonexistent.

Our subject 365 GTS

This 365 GTS, chassis 12489, sold for $3,602,500 at RM Sotheby’s Arizona Auction on January 16, 2017. The Arizona Week auctions followed Mecum’s grueling nine-day slugfest across the country at Kissimmee, FL.

Ferrari historian Marcel Massini noted that between Mecum’s Kissimmee sale and the Arizona auctions, close to 6,000 collector cars were auctioned over a bit more than two weeks.

That’s a huge number of cars. While oversupply and auction fatigue certainly resulted in some low sale prices in Arizona, the 365 GTS was not one of the casualties.

The $3,602,500 365 GTS sale was the second-highest of RM Sotheby’s auction.

The sale broke the top end of RM Sotheby’s healthy $2,900,000–$3,500,000 estimate and made the Arizona Week’s top 10 list.

RM Sotheby’s auctioned a different 365 GTS, chassis 12473, in 2015. The bidding ended with the GTS not selling — despite a healthy $3,450,000 high bid. The Ferrari market has cooled since 2015. The big money paid for our subject GTS speaks volumes for the resilience of special cars to market waves.

Several high-grade Ferraris sold at low prices, and others went back home with their owners during this year’s Arizona Week.

The buyer of chassis 12489 recognized that an opportunity to buy one of the elusive 20 365 GTSs doesn’t come up often. He got a Ferrari legend at a fair price. The seller got a price that was not unexpected but may not be repeated for a couple years. Chalk this one up for the seller.

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)

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