Ah, the GT

I love cars that should have died fifty years ago.

The marketplace is cruel. When a technology obsoletes a need for something, or when even mere fashion moves from phony wood clad station wagons to SUVs and minivans, very few people are around to cry about it. When was the last time you heard someone say “Man, I sure do miss our old Vista Cruiser?” or “Boy, I wish they still made Country Squire wagons like I grew up in?”

But I still love the GT; the Grand Tourer. And even though the need is gone (if there ever was one), they are still making them.

The GT’s time had barely come when it was already done. The GT was born of the first evidence of prosperity, of young men with more money than sense in Europe after World War II, when what came to be known as playboys decided what they needed was a fast, efficient and semi-luxurious way to comport themselves and a paramour to the south of France in as little time as possible from some place in northern Europe.

By the time the recipe was perfected the personal jet had come along and obviated the need such a carriage but since then, they have sold quite well on their styling, performance and charisma. You see, nobody can see you in your LearJet at 35,000 feet, but everyone can see you stylin’ and smilin’ in your Ferrari

Photo of Ferrari 275 GTB
Of Another Era: The Ferrari 275 GTB

These were almost exclusively two-seat cars. And almost all were expensive. They featured the very latest technology of the day, including disc brakes, fuel injection, wild styling and a wonderful song from the exhaust. There was room for the driver and his (always “his”) sweetie, and two or maybe three tastefully handmade examples of luggage designed specifically to fit this one model of car. There was usually a German radio that picked up stations from all over the world, along with the local fare. Everything was swathed in leather and there was often a smattering of convenience features like power windows, sunroofs and even air conditioning, at a time when all of these were amazing features to have on any car, let alone one capable of sustained cruising at 125mph or better.

Ferrari were quick to capitalize on this market, building wonderful V-12 engined cars that could scoot you along the highways all day with little (for the day) trouble. But soon enough Maserati and upstart Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin joined the ranks. Weird companies with no history whatsoever joined in. If you wanted to take a flyer, you could buy a Bizzarrini or one of the other cars from a company that built half a dozen cars and then faded away. More came from Mercedes Benz and Jaguar.

It’s difficult. These are magnificent machines. Wonderfully muscled on the road, with excellent reflexes in the context of the day.

What’s odd is that there are economy cars you can buy today from Honda and Toyota that will actually outperform these storied old glamour cars of yesteryear. Even the most humble transport box you can buy today features fuel injection—and it’s a better fuel injection than anything available in the early 1960s. Tires are better. Brakes are better. Even the air conditioning is better on the simplest little econo-car you can buy today.

But they don’t have the sex appeal of a low-slung Ferrari. They will never turn heads like the sexy old gals from the olden days. The new machines look too much like space ships for my liking. There’s a purity to a Lamborghini Miura that’s missing from the latest Ferrari and Lambo. And yes, I know I’m comfortably far away from affording a new Ferrari or Lamborghini, thank you. But I were to win the lottery or something, I think I would rather try to find four or five of the old cars than one of the new ones with electronic-everything and all of the comforts of home.

They’re a car out of time, now. But they still have my heart.

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