Blogs at Amazon

« Cars on Film--Le Mans | Main | Fiat and Chrysler? »

Ferrari 365 GTC4 2+2

107 This magnificent machine once belonged to a very dear late friend of mine, Mr. George Arents, III. Though somewhat obscure, the Arents family has a remarkable American history. From Dutch descent, they came over to The New World on the second voyage of the Mayflower. The family owned the Richmond Hotel; the lobby was copied for the final scene in "Gone With The Wind". 

103 George's dad accumulated great wealth, even starting American Machine and Foundry (AMF) just for fun. He invented cigarette and bread wrapping machines among other things. A rose is named after Mrs. Arents; George III came along in 1913. Their home in Westchester County, New York, "Hillbrook," shown here, had 52 acres of mowed lawn. They eventually gave it to the Catholic Church, as nobody could afford to buy, maintain, and pay the taxes on it. My understanding is that the house was disassembled in recent years; we found the front door assembly in Chicago a year ago. They wanted $135,000.00. For the door.

George III, hereafter called George, was an accomplished sailplane and airplane pilot, and served in World War II. While flying over Europe, he had the chance to actually look down on a UFO. In George's typical understated manner, he looked at the co-pilot and said, "Well, they're here". He also loved to race cars, eventually winding up with the Ferrari team. His cars were blue with white striping, and George crashed in Pescara, Italy, spending months in hospitals and losing two inches of height. They named that curve after him. Later, George, Enzo Ferrari, and Luigi Chinetti would become business partners, bringing Ferrari street cars to America for sale. Chinetti Motors, in Greenwich, Connecticut, was just a few miles from Hillbrook. George also knew another racer around that time named Zora, who was working on a production fiberglass two-seater. Seems George made a suggestion to modify the car's rear suspension that Zora took to heart.

109 I met George in 1978 when he drove the then-blue GTC4 solo from "Beautiful Downtown Burbank" (Toluca Lake) to Franklin, Tennessee, roughly 2,000 miles, to see his friend, artist/painter Walter Bunn Gray (1935-2002), here on the left. George, on the right, was 65 at the time.

I was the only one here privileged to drive the car, stalling it at the first intersection of course, as the clutch effort was a beast! While here, the car sprung a slight gas leak from a tube entering one of the six 2-barrel Weber carburetors on the massive V-12 (Yes, it also has two oil filters), and George handed me the original-equipment Prancing Horse tool kit to fix the leak. I was flattered, of course. The car had THERE on the California "personalized" license plate, a reference to Gertrude Stein's "Everybody's Autobiography" quote, "There is no there there." Perhaps George had met her while crossing the Atlantic on the RMS Olympic, sister ship to Titanic, one of his favorites and a setting in one of his books, "The Brass Nightingale."

106 A few days later we took a second spin around the county, and I didn't stall it that time. George complimented my cornering, and the suede Recaro seats didn't hurt the driving feel at all. We got behind a school bus doing about 20 mph. I asked George what he would do in a situation like this; he said he would wait till the coast was clear, then kick it in the ass. Well, I did that. I swear, we went from 20 to 80 by the time we passed the bus. The kids on board the bus will never forget the scream of the V-12 opening up, resonating off the side of the bus, and neither will I. Like Wile E. Coyote on an ACME Rocket, first my arms went with the steering wheel, then body, followed by my head, landing on the Recaro headrest. All in second gear. Holy Moly, that car was fast! But then, why should it not have been? That was the only time I pushed the car, and it satisfied my curiosity. A then-21-year-old was very happy.

104 About a year later, I flew to Los Angeles to spend some time with George. He met me at LAX in the car, which had now been painted "Mahogany", as the original blue was losing its luster. On the Hollywood Freeway, I opened a Coors (Which was still illegal in Tennessee, making it taste that much sweeter), and a bit spurted onto the suede dash. George just laughed and said it was all right. I didn't get to drive the car in LA, but he gave me instead the house car ... a one-year-old Peugeot 604, (above), which smelled like a fine shoe store inside. Only after I arrived did I learn we were three blocks from Bob Hope's house.

011 I corresponded with George up to his death in 1992. He always said "80 is enough;" he passed at 79. All his letters are safe here, as well as the copies and precopies of books he was working on. He also gave me his Ferrari North American Racing Team (NART) badge off of one of his racing cars, forever a treasure of mine. I may have desecrated the badge when I screwed it onto the fake woodgrain dash of a Vega Kammback wagon I rebuilt, after I put a Vega GT dash in the car; but George saw the badge and smiled. I think he liked the gauges in the car as much as I did.

Now some tech stuff! Only 505 365 GTC4s were ever made; 180 made it to America. There were 48 Ferrari colors used those years; I believe George's car was "Blue Chiaro Metallic" originally, but I'm not definite on that. Of course, Ferrari would custom color your car if you so desired. The 365 GTC4 had matte black bumpers and rear-end treatment, unique to the line at that time. Ten interior colors were offered; the car cost $27,500 in 1972. That  year, the Kammback listed for $2,700. Air conditioning was standard, and Connelly leather was an option (On the Ferrari, not the Vega Kammback!).

105 Powered by a 60-degree V-12 displacing 4390 cc (4.4 litres), we smog-reducing, smug-inducing Americans got 320 horsepower, the rest of the world got 340. The car had two distributors, each with two sets of points. Want an oil change? Buy two filters and 18 (That's right, 18) quarts of some really good oil. Need a tune-up?  I just saw where a guy paid $12,000 for that service. You have to take the carburetors off to set the valves, which is required every 15,000 miles, then put the carbs back on and set them. Ouch. Built on a welded tube steel frame chassis, this car shares many components with the Daytona and 246 GT Dino, also produced at the same time. But the 365 GTC4 had a back seat ... sorta. Really too small to accept anything but luggage, a couple of folks twisted themselves back there when George was here, but the comment "never again" was heard as well.

The 365 GTC4 is immotalized on The Cars' "Candy-O" album cover in outline by Vargas, no less, though it's a little hard to see under such, ahem, beautiful artwork. The side back windows, backlight, and roofline were copied from this car for the Chevy Monza/Buick Skyhawk/Nighthawk/Olds Starfire, etc. series. David Colborne's recent fine article on the Buick Nighthawk prompted me to write this post when I saw the familiar windows on the Nighthawk.

108 The last time I visited with George was in 1984, during the 1984 Summer Olympics in LA. His "toys" then, as he called them, were a 1938 Packard limousine and a brand new Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit motorcar, painted in his family's black and tan New York Yacht Club private colors ... his way of subtly snubbing the SoCal locals. He allowed me to drive both of them; I'll never forget cruising the Rolls down Hollywood Boulevard, a stark contrast to my country living here in Middle Tennessee.

I'm sorry the pictures of George's car aren't fresher... I took them in 1978 and 1979 on film, and took the image of "Hillbrook" in 1980, then copied the prints with a Nikon digital camera this week for the story. I wish I could find and buy George's car, but I don't have a good place to keep the Miata, much less something with this rich pedigree. But to just see his car again would be a treat. And to tell the present owner that George had owned it would be nice, too. Hopefully some day that dream will come true. Heck, maybe there is a there there!

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Most of the tech info for this came from:  http://www.365gtc4.com/Home/default.aspx.
And thank you, George and Bunn, for many fantastic, unique memories. I'll never forget you two.

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Err... next time just leave it as a draft.... Chris will edit it so it isn't the entire article on the front page. Other than that, sweet article. Weird history on some family friends!

...great piece!..

...i particularly love that this car has been conspicuously driven and enjoyed as it was meant to be - far too many exotics are consigned to the fate of a museum artifact, or twice-yearly family silver at best...

If anybody's interested, I'm looking for a book: "Car Lust Posting for DUMMIES" :)

Nice story.
I believe Hemmings Sport & Exotic magazine have an article on the Ferrari 365 GTC this month. Beautiful and simple lines.

Beautiful car, I'll bet that thing made some sweet, sweet music. I share ...m...'s happiness that the car was actually driven and enjoyed. I wouldn't want to handle that beast's maintenance costs, though.

Nice article, great pics. I am particularly anamored with the Ferrari cars beginning with 200 and 300. The have a classic, understated beauty combining form and function. And they make sweet music. :-)

Thanks for the post.

Thanks, Gavin! I'll try to pick up a copy of the magazine tomorrow night!

Now that's a classic!

Hi Chuck! I am smiling reading your article about my grandfather! (We called him Grumpy- per his request when i was born:) When the picture of the blue 365 came up on the screen, a tear came to my eye- I haven't seen that car in years! I used to ride in my Mom's lap on the passener side ( days long before car seats!). At that time Grumpy's hearing was starting to go, so he loved to downshift in the tunnels, with the windows down-the engine would scream and i would coo. Thank you for sharing your memories of my adored Grumpy.

Hey Chuck,

Thanks so much for this post. There was some family history and stories I had not heard before. Great stuff!!

One of my favorite memories of that car was when I got to ride with Grumpy for a day, across Arizona or New Mexico (I was 9 and don't recall). My sisters, mother, and I were moving from Miami to Ashland and Grumpy came out to meet us from Burbank. I had the pleasure of him kicking the car in the ass a few times as we drove those long, straight desert highways. The sound and feeling of that V-12 being unleashed was something to behold indeed. While I know he preferred curvy mountain roads, I know we both had fun that day, and it's something I will never forget.

Around 9 years later, he let me drive his Rolls to my graduation from Hoopa High School in 1987. She was a beautiful car to drive and look at, and we certainly made heads turn when we drove up to the school. Knowing his sense of humor, I'm sure he enjoyed it as much as I did.

Again, many thanks Chuck. I am looking forward to seeing what you send to Leilani.

Duncan!
I have a photo of the Rolls-Royce that I will be sending Leilani very soon. It's sitting in front of the house on South Valley, Toluca Lake. I hope it brings back pleasant memories of both your graduation and your grandfather. ~Chuck

Hello Chuck. I run www.365gtc4.com from whch you got a lot of info in the model. I don't suppose you know the 5 digit serial number for Grumpy's car? I'd like to update our registry with the history from your article but I need to know which car to attribute it to. Thanks.

I met George a couple of times as a glider pilot. He came to Burlington, N.C. to a glider contest driving a Bentley and towing a glider trailer behind it with a Schweizer 1-23 painted black, which he called the U-3.

Much later, I met him again at Sugarbush. He was driving a Rolls at that time and told me that he had tried to persuade the factory to sponsor him in some road races there in Vermont. He wanted to dress in tails and run the race with the AC on and was sure he could win it, but the Rolls factory refused because they had nothing to gain and everything to lose in such an event.

He had on the Sugarbush airport a completely refurbished Waco, biplane with tapered wings covered with mahogany. The interior was covered with the same broadcloth used in the Queen's carriage and the door knobs, window cranks (like 1930's cars) and other fittings were all gold plated.

I remember some further stories about his gliding adventures in West Texas, but they are too long to report here.

Mr. Williams,

Thank you so much for these memories of George. I have passed your comments on to his granddaughter, who also found this post a while ago.

We'd both love to hear any more stories you have about this remarkable gentleman. He was truly a treasure, and it's so warming to hear from others who knew him.

Thanks again, and I'd like to be in touch soon.

--Chuck

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.

Pictured above: This is a forlorn Chevy Vega photographed by reader Gary Sinar. (Share yours)

Powered by Rollyo

Car Lust™ Contributors

April 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30