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Prancing Horse? Jag? How Lennon chose...

2014-11-10 10:21

ENZO'S E-TYPE COPY: Ferrari arguably still produces the world's best-looking cars. This is the brand's mid-1960s 330 supercar, a model similar to that which Beatle John Lennon bought in 1965 - and to the E-Type. Image: Newspress

DAVE FALL

There have been occasional moments through my life when I would have loved to have been the proverbial fly-on-the-wall. Picture the scene: it’s 1965, John Lennon (yes, of Beatles fame) had just passed his driving test and was looking for a tasty set of wheels for himself, Cynthia and little Julian.

With lots of money in the bank, thanks to their then latest LP 'Beatles For Sale' hitting No. 1 in the music charts, it was time to relax a little.

Lennon was living in Surrey, near London, close to his recording studios at the tims. The British national newpapers, always anxious to report on the Fab Four's doings, suggested he was on the look-out for a sports car.

VERY LATEST MODEL

Later that day a half-dozen shy and sensitive car salesmen arrived at the gates of his palatial pad in Weybridge with a handful of exotica to, they hoped, tempt Lennon into test driving. Among the offering were a Jaguar E-Type, an Aston Martin DB5, the latest Maserati and a couple of Ferraris, each salesperson hoping to strike a deal with the Liverpool pop star, by then father to 22-month old Julian by his first wife, Cynthia.

VIDEO: Watch the Beatles sing 'Baby You Can Drive My Car'

Walking out to inspect the cars in his driveway, with much deliberation he settled on a right-hand drive Ferrari 330GT 2+2 coupe in Azurri Blue, the very latest model from styling and engineering guru Enzo’s line-up.

Although Enzo Ferrari himself would have been really chuffed at Lennon’s decision it is believed Ferrari had huge admiration for the looks of the E-Type, describing it as the most beautiful car in the world. If you look closely at the 330GT it definitely bears more than a passing resemblance to the Jaguar!

Priced back than at £6500 against the E-Type's £2000 (when R1.80 bought you a pound), it was a hefty price tag but a stunning-to-look-at at supercar with a four-litre, 220kW V12 engine in standard tune. The “330” nomenclature, incidentally, referred to the approximate displacement of each cylinder.


SPACE FOR YOUNG JULIAN

Perhaps the ease of accommodating a child on the back seat of the Prancing Horse* 330GT swayed Daddy Lennon but Ferrari had been building Pininfarina four-seaters for some years, including the seminal 250GTE 2+2 range.

By cleverly moving the 330 V12 engine, gearbox and steering forward and the fuel tank backwards he created sufficient room for the toddler and his carry-cot on the rear seat.

Cars were to become a passion for Lennon, none more so than this Ferrari, which he used for the best part of three years, covering more than 32 000km by the time he parted with it in October 1967. Later on he bought on a whim a Rolls-Royce Phantom V limousine and had the car repainted in psychedelic colours, incurring the wrath of the British nation.

STORY OF THE PRANCING STALLION

Earlier in 2014 the car was sold for the equivalent of R6.5-million through a UK auction house. Apparently a personal favourite model for Enzo Ferrari, the 330 was also the first of his cars to sell more than 1000 units.

*Enzo Ferrari, early in his racing career, became friendly with one Count Baracca whose ace fighter-pilot son was killed in the First World War. The count asked Ferrari to carry his son’s cavallino (emblem) on his race car.

Ferrari agreed and the rearing black stallion on a yellow background became one of the best-known badges in the motoring world.

Specifications
1965 Ferrari 330GT 2+2
Engine: Four-litre V12 quad cam, 224kW
0-100km/h: 6.3sec
Top speed: 245km/h
Gearbox: 4spd manual
Brakes: Disc, servo-assisted
Price: (New in 1965) £6500, the equivalent then of R11 700 (R1.80 bought you a pound and R500 a month was a good salary in SA).

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