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AH, THE GOOD OLD DAYS! Fifty years ago a Ferrari 275 GTS could be bought for half the price of today’s average new car. In a September 1966 Road Test, R&T wrote, “WHIRRRR…. VROOM…. But this Ferrari, the latest 275 GTS, isn’t all blood and thunder. On top of all the excitement, it’s a genuinely luxurious car. In this respect, Ferraris have come a long way….”
Indeed, cars have come an even longer way in the past 50 years.
To see just how much, let’s compare data for that 1966 Ferrari 275 GTS with numbers of a couple of new Toyota Camry models today. And, as a monetary equalizer, let’s apply the U.S. Department of Labor’s Inflation Calculator to the dollars involved.
The 1966 Ferrari 275 GTS listed for $14,500. Sure enough, an average car today goes for rather more than twice this. Kelley Blue Book lists the August 2015 industry average at $33,543.
In January 2015, Car and Driver tested a loaded Toyota Camry 4-cylinder that had an as-tested price of $33,448. Another Car and Driver-tested Camry last year had a V-6 and went for $35,768. (Less elaborate Camry sedans started at around $25K.)
On the other hand, back in 1966 the Ferrari’s price was hardly chump change. The Inflation Calculator gives $106,027 as an equivalent current value for 1966’s $14,500.
The Ferrari 275 GTS was powered by a 260-hp V-12 displacing 3286 cc. A bit of Ferrari nomenclature: 275 times 12 is 3300; that is, each of the engine’s 12 cylinders has a displacement of around 275 cc. Typical of Ferraris of the era, each bank of its V-12 had a single overhead camshaft actuating a conventional two valves per cylinders.
The 275 GTS’s V-12 had more power than the Car and Driver Camry’s inline-4, which produces 178 hp from its 2494-cc displacement. Contrasting with the Ferrari’s, this powerplant has double-overhead camshafts actuating four valves per cylinder. The Camry’s V-6 beats the Ferrari’s V-12 in displacement and output: 3456 cc and 268 hp. Each of its banks carries double-overhead camshafts actuating four valves per cylinder. Both Toyota engines feature variable valve timing, technology not available in 1966.
Performance numbers are fun to compare as well: The Ferrari 275 GTS did 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. The Camry four-banger took 7.9 seconds, the Camry V-6 beating both soundly at 5.8 seconds. Quarter-mile results were similarly aligned: The Ferrari passed the 1/4-mile marker in 15.7 seconds at 91 mph. Car and Driver reported the Camry inline-four doing it in 16.2 seconds at 88 mph. Their Camry V-6 did the quarter in 14.3 seconds at 100 mph.
Even so, the magazine observed that the family Camry’s “sportiness is still AWOL.”
Good Old Days with a Ferrari 275 GTS would have been very good indeed. But today isn’t all that bad either. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2016
This reminds me of R&T’s November 1983 issue, which described a Lotus Turbo Esprit as “blindingly quick,” with a 0-60 of 6.6 seconds.
And so it was at the time. I recall my first drive of a Porsche Turbo. Today, a good number of family sedans will smoke it.
I remember a comment of John and Elaine Bond that “Today’s race car performance will be tomorrow’s sports car performance.” Obviously that comment needs an amendment to ” future family car” as in the case of today’s current Camry’s.
Excellent story, Dennis. How about the Camry v-6 and the Ferrari 156 Formula 1 car of Phil Hill with the 1.5 l. v-6.
How grateful I am that you posted the data panel for the 275GTS! I remember that in 1966 we were all blown away that one could get 90% of the Tom Tjaarda style of the GTB in a Fiat 124 Spider for about a third of the price. Of course you also got a third of the performance. My favorite comparison is the fire-breathing 1965 Shelby GT350 against the current Mustang four cylinder Ecoboost. The four makes four more horsepower, and it’s net, not gross!
The silhouette drawings, BTW, were always informative. Note that the Ferrari’s entire engine sits behind the front wheel centerline. That’s where the 48/52 weight bias comes from.