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The ’65 Ferrari 330GT Vignale: A Latin Longroof

Chris Haining July 7, 2015 Car Shows, Cars You Should Know 10 Comments

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It may well that be the same affliction that prevented my successful progression as a car designer is responsible for my wife’s total lack of trust in me for making decisions in matters of household decor. For instance, I think the Aviation Traders Carvair was a glorious looking aeroplane. I enjoy looking at pieces of Soviet brutalist architecture. Ekranoplans, to me, are handsome devices. No less do I appreciate the aesthetic of a Class 31 diesel locomotive than I do a Fiat Topolino.

Basically I cannot / will not acknowledge when something is ugly. I am no arbiter of style or elegance, though I’m pretty sure I have a fantastic taste in women. This brings me to what we have here, which, to hedge my bets, I’m going to say is simultaneously the best and worst looking Ferrari of all time.

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This has been a Ferrari 330GT. In 1965 it was sold, via a Belgian Ferrari dealer, to Luigi Chinetti Jnr. It retained its svelte, low-profile bodywork for its first few years until Chinetti mailed the car to Italy. At that point, all the sheetmetal was sliced off and thrown in a skip. In its place, the celebrated Carrozerie Vignale mounted something a bit, different.

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Striking, isn’t it? It looks like nothing else on the planet. It was first shown to the world at the 50th Turin Motorshow in 1968, returning to the USA afterwards where the Chinetti family kept it from then on. Most recently the has been owned by musician and hat-enthusiast Jay Kay of acid-lounge act Jamiroquai.

Is it pretty? I don’t care. It looks brilliant. It doesn’t have any of the traditional Ferrari styling queues, aside, perhaps, from the long hood.

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All the lights are concealed behind grilles, a styling feature I have always loved and something that this car has in common with the XJ220. I’m going to go out on a limb here, though, and say that this car has more in common with nautical styling than it does with cars.

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I can just imagine this profile skimming the surface of Lake Como, V12 singing and echoing off the mirror-flat water. The shape brings to mind the products of some of the great Cantieri Navali. Up on the roof there should be a flying bridge and a sunpad.

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I love the vents on the centre pillar, which are architecturally highlighted in polished aluminium. Everything just oozes quality and thought.

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The cockpit is everything you’d want it to be, with the interesting addition of an air-conditioning duct directly in the driver’s eyeline, between speed and tach. The wood-rimmed, alloy spoked steering wheel sits inches from the big aluminium gearknob, all the better fast steer-‘n-change decision-making.

I can’t find anything I don’t like about this car. Vignale clearly set out to create something that a Ferrari had never been before, and Mr Chinetti is to be applauded for having commissioned it in the first place. And Jay Kay, who has a pretty enviable collection of unreasonably priced cars stashed away, is to be congratulated for putting this one on display here at Goodwood today.

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So what is it? Hideous or horny, pretty or pugnacious? Or all of the above? I have no idea. I just want it to be mine.

(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2015)

  • Van_Sarockin

    It’s like Brooks Stevens decided to make a big Lotus – and that’s not such a bad thing. It is certainly the ugliest, clumsiest, least feminine Ferrari of that era, though.

  • “…worst looking Ferrari of all time.”

    Oh, I don’t know. I once had a chance to see this other Chinetti when it was part of a private collection here in Seattle:

    http://www.conceptcarz.com/images/Ferrari/66_Ferrari_Nart_365_Spydr-DV_14-AI_05.jpg

    http://www.conceptcarz.com/images/Ferrari/66_Ferrari_Nart_365_Spydr-DV_14-AI_08.jpg

    I understand it has since been sold, although I can’t say I’ve kept track.

    • jeepjeff

      I love how they’ve horribly compromised the beauty of the body in the name of better aerodynamics, but left lots of panel gaps and a soft top. It’s fabulous.

      • And yet I assure you the photos don’t do it justice. In person I thought for quite some time that it was an awkwardly conceived and poorly executed kit car, despite the fact that I fancy myself something of a connoisseur of such matters (of awkwardly conceived and poorly executed kit cars, that is, not of Ferraris).

    • Vairship

      Nice Miata-based kit car!
      Oops, that’s a real Ferrari you say? That’s…unfortunate…

  • Fred Talmadge

    I love those wheels, two tone paint combination is definitely British Lotus, throw in that beautiful V12 and I’d love to make a run to Costco.

  • Alff

    How does one wash the headlamps?

    • Van_Sarockin

      One has people for such things.

  • Scubie

    Hearse-like…