Ferrari Club of America - Southwest Region

Buying an Older Ferrari - Part 2

Last month Chris was contemplating blowing part of his new inheritance on a 330 GT 2+2 (s/n 8679), and was having John Bagioli of Fiorano Motors check it out....

Friday afternoon I got the first of several reports from John. He had checked out the car but not yet driven it. Compression check shows a range from 145 psi to 125 psi. Not bad considering the age of the car; a range of 10psi is preferable. Some of the spark plug wires have the wrong style terminal on the end; easily remedied.

There's something wrong with the water pump. On this car, the pump is down low on the front plate, driven by the crankshaft. The impeller (which drives the water) is sealed away from the rest of the engine to avoid intermingling of the oil and water. There is a "weep hole" in the pump, where the beginnings of leaking water will appear. This hole has been epoxied up on the car - the question is why.

John found some water in the oil. He mentioned it to Andy, who ventured that it could be condensation from the car not having been driven much. Fine, they drained the oil and refilled with new; he wants to put 20-30 miles on the car and check the oil again. If no water, great. If some water, the pump needs to be investigated; if it's not the pump, it might be head gasket (big bucks).

There is some damage to the front subframe; nothing major, could be repaired for $300-400. Might be connected with the bent-up lower front valence I noticed.

The center donut in the driveshaft needs to be replaced. Someone apparently had it out and didn't put all the safety cotter pins in properly; it sounds like it's not possible to just put the pins in. Don't fully understand this. The left rear spring shackle has something screwy with it, but it mostly needs to be adjusted, not replaced. The steering box leaks oil, no big surprise on a car this age. There's some gear oil dripping from the right side of the differential.

The gas tank has been welded up; there was some water near it, but not fuel; he thought that there might be a water leak there and the car had just been washed. Doesn't seem to be a hazard, he'll check it again.

The car has been sprayed with undercoating but he saw no apparent frame damage. Rear suspension is in OK shape; bushings are old but good, probably original with 70k miles of wear. The wheels need to be repainted - they were painted improperly such that the silver paint is not sticking to the aluminum (we noticed this). The front suspension could use a rebuild, but there's no hurry; it won't fall off but it's worth starting to accumulate parts for.

The radiator is bulging, but not leaking; this might be related to the bent up subframe and valence. Clutch slave cylinder is leaking and needs to be rebuilt. Right wheel bearing should be repacked and adjusted.

A/C blows freely and cold. Left window doesn't work. Handbrake cable isn't attached properly. Brake pads are new, tires are new, rotors are ok. Hoses seem in good shape.

John's biggest concern was the water pump. He suggests that it needs that, a good tune up, new valve cover gaskets (to avoid most of the oil leakage), the center donut and the clutch slave cylinder. Down the road, fix the terminals on the spark plugs, paint the wheels and rebuild the front suspension. He rates it as a likely decent driver (not having driven it) but that it's a long way from winning a concours... which is just what we were looking for.

That evening, I heard from him after he'd driven it. He said that they roared around, the car pulled strongly to 5500 in all gears (!), and there was no water in the oil. Car didn't overheat; even at idle, temp never went above 90 Celsius. A little bit of timing chain noise, a tick from the left bank, some blowby at the oil filler cap, but no smoke out the exhaust.

Steering was very stiff, and he suspected that the steering box needs to be rebuilt. Since that was apart, the front suspension should be done,

For a complete look at Sempre Ferrari, you may want to check out the rest of the articles from Volume 2, Issue 10 - November 1995