Jim Walker hadn’t owned many classic or vintage cars, but in 2004 he dauntlessly took the big plunge and bought a 1970 Ferrari 365 GT 2+2 for $65,000.
The GT part of the name stands for “gran turismo,” the Italian for grand touring. The 2+2 tag refers to coupes that have a backseat suitable for two persons, although those places are usually better suited for youngsters.
Walker had wanted a 365 GT 2+2 ever since reading a review titled “The Magnificent GT” in Sports Car Graphic magazine some 36 years earlier. He still has the issue, as well as many copies of Road & Track and Car and Driver from the 1960s.
He counted patiently as only 801 examples of the model were manufactured between 1967 and 1971. The magazine’s review gave list price as $18,500.
“My father passed away in 2004 and left me a little money, so if I was ever going to own a Ferrari, this was the time,” says Walker, who owns an automotive consulting firm in Ann Arbor and is also active in the National Motorists Association. “It’s a comfortable, drivable, fast touring car.”
He tested five examples before picking one in “fly yellow” that’s outfitted with the desirable, optional Borrani wire wheels. It was delivered new in Southern California and accumulated 53,000 miles through relatively regular use.
“The previous owner drove it enough to keep it limber.”
Instead of driving the car home to Michigan in December of 2004, risking an encounter with winter weather, Walker had it shipped back.
He knew of about $10,000 to $12,000 in work to be done, as well as hunting down original features such as the tool kit, which was missing.
But he hadn’t reckoned on a sick engine.
In mid-2005 a major overhaul was commissioned. (Each cylinder has a volume of 365 cubic centimeters, which explains the model designation.) A single-overhead camshaft surmounts each cylinder bank of the 4.4-liter V-12, operating 24 valves in all.
“There’s nothing very fancy about it, just a lot of parts. It’s not exotic.”
Terry Myr, a Ferrari specialist in Smith’s Creek, near Port Huron, did the rebuild, but Walker pitched in as best he could in order to save money.
“I got to work alongside him. I was honored that he let me do that. I did all the grunt work, all the cleaning, which saved a lot of money.”
The 5-speed manual transmission was fine, but the clutch received a new throwout bearing. About one year and $30,000 later, the powertrain was once again fresh. With the three twin-throat Weber carburetors working in concert, the engine produced the original 320 horsepower at 6600 rpm.
Walker and his wife Molly have rolled up more than 13,000 miles on the mighty Ferrari. The leather-trimmed interior offers the customary modern conveniences, including air conditioning and dual-zone heating for the driver and front passenger. An electric defroster clears the rear glass of vapor and frost.
A self-leveling rear suspension lets the car adapt to the weight of rear-seat passengers and a weekend’s luggage.
“It doesn’t cough and spit, and it starts easily, usually on the first or second turn of the key even if it’s been sitting for a while. If you drive it sanely on normal highways, it gets 14 to 15 miles per gallon. If you’re really romping on it, it’ll get 11 or 12.”
Most of the normal maintenance is conventional stuff. Any good mechanic who’s familiar with cars of the era can perform the tasks. Walker points out that access is sometimes difficult, but no special tools are required.
In 2007, the Walkers made a 1,700-mile round trip to the Ferrari Club of America’s national meet in Corning, New York. The car won second place in the 2+2 class and Walker received a Schedoni leather plaque with a medallion.
While he says the greatest satisfaction is simply in driving the 365 GT 2+2, the award stimulated his imagination.
“If I had gobs of money, I would be very tempted to have two of them and search out one of the virtually perfect cars—there are about six around country—buy that, and take it to shows and just drive this one.”