‘Shall we go to the pub? We can take the 330 GT…’ I have driven a fair few of Jay Kay’s cars during the 20 years I’ve known him and have been driven in many more (often quickly, always skilfully). However, the car in question is special even by this man’s standards – a one-off Ferrari shooting brake, one of the most dazzling rebodied Ferraris in that rather arcane byway of the Company’s history.
Drive it? Short of parachuting through the roof of the local hostelry with our trousers aflame, it’s difficult to think of a more sensational way of arriving anywhere.
The creative kingpin of musical phenomenon Jamiroquai – whose 12-million-selling 1996 album Travelling Without Moving homaged Ferrari in its cover art – Jay Kay has lately become one of the world’s most astute car collectors.
In addition to the outbuildings that fringe his splendid manor house, hidden away in verdant countryside about an hour’s drive north of London, Jay’s automotive collection has expanded to the extent that he recently needed to construct a new building to house them.
The Ferraris – a LaFerrari, Enzo, F40, 250 GT Lusso and Scuderia 16M Spider among others – live in a dedicated temperature-controlled space, necessary to stave off the privations of the British weather. But Jay has no problem heading off into the rain today, in the 330 GT, and he’s keen for me to drive it.
At the time of my test drive, Jay hasn’t owned the car very long and even he admits he may have gone out on a limb this time. ‘Do you think I’ve lost the plot?’ he smiles. ‘I know this car isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.’
It’s certainly unusual. Shooting brake, station wagon, estate: a surprising number of versatile one-offs pepper the Ferrari back catalogue, back to the 250 GT “Breadvan” commissioned by Scuderia Serenissima owner Count Giovanni Volpi in 1962 and a car whose aesthetic adventure was more in the direction of aero efficiency than visual allure.
This Vignale-bodied 330 GT breaks a fair few car design codes, but what it lacks in stance and proportion it more than compensates for in late-1960s Italian flamboyance and sheer presence.
The 330 GT itself first appeared at the 1964 Brussels motor show, and ushered in a new era of rather more formal elegance in the V12 Ferrari GT idiom. Chassis no. 7963 made its way across the Atlantic, to the Connecticut HQ of Luigi Chinetti.
By now well established as Ferrari’s man in the US, it was Chinetti’s son Luigi Jr (better known as Coco) who devised the shooting brake idea and collaborated with an artist called Bob Peak in order to make it feasible.
The finished car duly appeared at the 1968 Turin salon, where its elongated two-tone body and daring glazing stunned onlookers probably fresh out of the cinema from having their minds blown by 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Post-Chinetti, the 330 GT wagon – the last Ferrari to be bodied by Vignale, coincidentally, after clothing more than 100 of Maranello’s finest, including three Mille Miglia winners – spent time in France before landing in England.
It’s almost as stunning to drive as it is to look at, and once its triple-Weber carburettors are primed, the 4.0-litre V12 pulls with the sonorous and lusty howl these 1960s Ferraris are renowned for. It also feels perhaps surprisingly well put together for a near-50-year-old one-off and rides beautifully.
As far as Ferraris go, this one might be mining a rare groove, but as Jay Kay knows better than most, those are probably the funkiest of all.