Leading Ferrari specialist Bell Sport & Classic is proud to reveal full details of the benchmark-setting restoration of a 1966 Ferrari 330 GTC, which secured a convincing victory at the 2022 Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance in September against world-class opposition.
The concours award and the car’s Ferrari Classiche Certificate stand testament to the intensive
three-year-long restoration and rebuild at Bell Sport & Classic’s Hertfordshire headquarters. Led by the company’s expert team, who together have many decades of experience in Ferrari restoration, every component on the 330 GTC has either been restored, overhauled or reverse engineered, with the very latest restoration and engineering techniques employed.
Like all Bell Sport & Classic’s restorations, a beyond obsessive approach was applied through an unmatched blend of experience and expertise, creating a car that is in every facet better than when it left the factory – and what is quite probably the finest Ferrari 330 GTC in existence.
The gentleman’s Ferrari
“Unveiled at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show the 330 GTC took its chassis from the 275 GTB Berlinetta and its 300hp four-litre V12 engine from the 330 2+2 Coupé. Cloaked in an achingly elegant Pininfarina body, it made an immediate impact and was very much a car for the more discerning driver. It’s the kind of Ferrari that you could imagine Enzo using as a daily driver,” explains Tim Kearns, Bell Sport & Classic’s Managing Director.
“Maranello built 600 examples between 1966 and late 1968 and this example was built during the initial year of production,” adds Bell Sport & Classic’s Head of Acquisition & Sales, Peter Smith. “It first came to us six years ago having clearly had a good amount of use, the car initially sold into Switzerland had spent time in the US and was eventually found in Venezuela. Although the engine wasn’t running and it had been repainted blue, literally every nut and bolt was original, so it was a good example to start with – but we knew we could make it as close to perfect as possible.”
Two weeks were spent methodically removing all the Ferrari’s interior components before the restoration team, led by Elliot East, turned to the exterior trim and began carefully stripping parts, including the brightwork, bumpers, headlights, and glass. Only after that stage was completed was attention turned to the drivetrain and suspension components.
Restored to factory-fresh specification
Bell Sport & Classic’s exacting approach means that the same effort is lavished on every element of the car – whether visible or not. The 330’s heavily kerbed and severely corroded original 14-inch cast magnesium wheels were restored and elevated to gleaming concours-winning condition; this same approach is applied throughout the car – even to components that will remain hidden from view, deep in the fabric of the machine.
As Matt Wilton, who oversaw the project and has a lifetime of experience at the highest level of Classic Ferrari Restoration, explains: “Several of the imperfections were relatively minor, and would most likely never be seen by a customer, but for a Bell Sport & Classic restoration, everything matters. Yes, it’s highly time-consuming, but it gives our customers complete confidence that a car they receive from us is perfect in every detail.”
A month was dedicated to stripping the suspension down, and the components sandblasted, before undergoing repainting and replating as required. The original shock absorbers, suspension arms and springs were all refurbished and retained.
“The steering arm and every little bracket that had been nickel-plated originally, were replated,” continues Matt Wilton. “Other components, such as the anti-roll bar drop link, were restored to their original satin nickel finish. Absolutely everything on this car is in the same condition, or better, as the day it left the factory.”
Walnut shells for that delicate touch
The process that would eventually ensure an exquisite exterior finish utterly devoid of even the slightest blemish began more than two years before painting was scheduled, and involved blasting the car’s body, not by sand, but by crushed walnut shells.
“One of the disadvantages of using sandblasting on the delicate areas of the larger panels is that it can put heat into the steel and cause it to distort. However, that doesn’t happen with walnut-blasting,” continues Elliot East. “It’s a technique that’s always best for the potentially more fragile areas.”
When the car arrived at Bell Sport & Classic it was a pale blue and had clearly been painted several times over its life. As part of the team’s restoration research process, the original factory build sheets were sourced confirmed that 330 GTC Chassis No. 9069 left Maranello a beautiful and unusual pale green. Before the body was painted and the Ferrari returned to its stunning original light green metallic Verde Chiaro Metallizato, the team undertook a complete dry build. While this process of reassembling and then stripping back down again before painting takes time, it’s integral to every restoration project undertaken by Bell Sport & Classic.
And again, despite the team’s accumulated decades of experience restoring historic Ferrari models, it ensures that nothing is taken for granted or left to chance. At this point, the bodywork is fully re-assembled, with components such as the glass, chrome wear, doors and all exterior fixtures fully incorporated. Every stage of the process is precisely measured, and triple checked. This painstaking attention to detail is critical to mitigating the effect of the additional thickness of the primer and paint.
“If you have too much paint on the window frames, it could prevent the glass from fitting, or if there is too much in the guttering on the roof, it could prevent the door seal from fitting properly. We’re only talking points of a millimetre, but often that’s all it takes to make the difference,” explains Elliot East.
No detail too small
As typified by the GTC’s chassis, Bell Sport and Classic poured as much time and effort into perfecting the paint finish on the details that can’t be seen. Even the quality of the paint finish inside the small circular demister vent in the C-pillar matches the outstanding finish of the paint on the body, a rare achievement on this model, a real ‘tell’ for those in the know.
“As soon as we unveiled the car at Salon Privé, that was one of the areas that the judges and aficionados who really know this model went to straight away,” smiles Matt Wilton.
“And it was the same with the satin black paint inside the wheel arches and engine bay. It took three attempts before we were certain we got exactly the correct and original degree of shine and tonality.”
Even after the concours judges had peered into the C-pillar air vents, crawled underneath, and lifted the boot carpet, Bell Sport & Classic’s impeccable craftsmanship still stood up to the strictest scrutiny.
Again, the pursuit of perfection continued to areas that aren’t even visible. “Despite having been painted black at some stage – as most have been – when the car was new, its twin fibreglass-coated fuel-tanks were painted a pale turquoise blue,” explains Elliot East. “It’s not an easy colour to match, and some might argue that it’s not that important as the carpet hides the tanks. But it’s important to us. And that’s why the fuel tanks are once again finished in period-perfect turquoise after we found and original area of paint inside one of the necks and colour matched it.”
V12 beating heart
Each phase of the strip-down, refurbishment, reassembly, and testing, of the 330 GTC’s Colombo V12 engine was completed at Bell Sport & Classic’s in-house engine workshop, under the lead of Attilio Romano, a former member of the Ferrari factory technical team in Maranello, who ran
H.R. Owen’s Ferrari technical department for 22 years.
It’s an obsessive approach, but it ensures perfection, with every single component, down to the smallest stud, stripped, vapour-blasted, refurbished and replated as required, regardless of time and expense. Once the V12 was reassembled, two days were spent on dyno-testing, assiduously checking for the most minor issues, such as potential minute oil leaks.
Then, after the car was rebuilt and the engine placed back in situ, it was subjected to 500 miles of road testing. “We restore cars, not just to be sat on a concours lawn, but driven and enjoyed by their owners,” adds Peter Smith, himself an experienced racer and part of the project’s dynamic
sign-off process. The fully rebuilt engine produces 300hp at 7000 rpm – precisely the same as in period.
The gearbox was exposed to the same in-depth strip-down and rebuild process as the engine. And while every effort was made to maintain optimum originality, certain new parts were required to ensure a sublimely smooth driving experience. These included the selector forks, synchroniser hubs and synchroniser rings.
In many ways, the four-pot calliper braking system proved the most challenging aspect of the drivetrain, as Elliot East explains. “We weren’t happy with the existing brake servo, which was challenging because finding an original replacement part in good condition was just about impossible. But it’s like trying to ease off a seized nut – we never give up. And as we have contacts with parts suppliers and Ferrari enthusiasts all over the globe, we finally sourced an original.”
Creating a sublime interior
Back in 1966, the 330 GTC left Maranello sporting a gorgeous black leather interior, but more than half a century of use had taken a very heavy toll upon it. Restoring the cabin of a historic Ferrari to its former glory represents a significant challenge that not many can truly perfect.
Bell Sport & Classic entrusted the restoration of the car’s cabin to O’Rourke Coachtrimmers and Suppliers. Based in Rudgwick in West Sussex, the company has decades of experience in restoring Ferrari cabins to concours-winning, period-perfect condition. O’Rourke Coachtrimmers and Suppliers has built its world-leading reputation not just on the quality of its craftsmanship, but also by applying the same forensic approach and research-driven authenticity that Bell Sport & Classic exercises itself.
So, when the customer wished to change the colour of the leather, it was a straightforward task for O’Rourke Coachtrimmers and Suppliers to outline the range of options offered by the factory more than half a century ago. As a result, the car’s new owner was able to select the precise Ferrari Conolly VM 218 fawn leather colour, which was matched with period-correct detailing, including the colour and weave of the carpets and the headlining, right down to the vinyl on the binding of the carpets, with all material sourced from Italy.
Fortunately, the car’s original seat frames were in good condition and retained, although new foam inserts were fitted to ensure optimum comfort and support. New webbing was used for the belts, but all the fittings and buckles are original and have been restored, including the iconic Irvin badges.
The Ferrari’s wooden veneer dashboard was in relatively good condition, apart from the fact that it had a mysterious hole in it. “All the original dials and controls were present and correct and accounted for, so the hole had presumably accommodated an additional aftermarket feature that had been fitted at some point and then removed again,” deduced Elliot East. Once again, vast reserves of skill, experience and patience were required to perfect this element of the restoration, with dozens of different wood stains tried and revised before the correct match was found.
At some point in the car’s history, a 1980s radio cassette had been fitted to the centre console. Bell Sport & Classic removed the unit and fitted an original Beck Europa radio, of the precise type the car would have left the factory with. Restored and uprated by vintage car radio specialists, Chrome London, the period radio is equipped with modern internals and Bluetooth compatibility.
Beauty that is much more than skin-deep
“With this Ferrari 330 GTC, we have created a car that looks perfect from first glance right down to the details you will never see,” adds Peter Smith. “We believe passionately that beauty is so much more than skin-deep. That’s why, if you took this car apart, every component would look new, even though it is fifty-six years old. Versus the more famous V12 Ferrari of the period, the 330 GTC hides its light under a relative bushel, but it is such a wonderful combination of style and performance that this is one Ferrari unlikely to remain underrated for much longer.”
Bell Sport & Classic Managing Director, Tim Kearns concludes: “It’s a fundamental part of our philosophy that we just don’t build a car to get maximum points from the judges in a concours, it’s got to drive beautifully, too. The 330 GTC was the only car in its class to take part in the Salon Privé tour in the lead up to the event. It was driven enthusiastically and enjoyed on the wonderful roads of the Cotswolds over two days, before arriving at Blenheim Palace, parking up on the Concours judging lawn, and then taking the top Ferrari prize.
“Every car we restore, while flawless visually, has got to perform at the highest possible level – it’s got to be a true driver’s car. And it has got to be capable of being used every day of the week even if it isn’t. We are confident that Bell Sport & Classic sets the standard for the restoration of historic Ferrari models. The plaudits this 330 GTC has achieved validate the beyond obsessional approach of our exceptionally talented, knowledgeable, and passionate team. It builds on the success of our other recent Ferrari restoration projects – which have been met with universal acclaim for their pursuit of perfection – and further underlines our objective to continually raise the bar. This is exactly what Bell Sport & Classic does. Watch this space for our next project.”