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posted: 8/22/2011 6:00 AM

Classic recollections: 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4

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  • Traeger won best of class last year at the Geneva Concours d'Elegance car show.

      Traeger won best of class last year at the Geneva Concours d'Elegance car show.

  • Pete Traeger of South Barrington is the latest owner of this well-traveled Ferrari.

      Pete Traeger of South Barrington is the latest owner of this well-traveled Ferrari.

  • The 4,390 cubic-centimeter engine produces 352 horsepower.

      The 4,390 cubic-centimeter engine produces 352 horsepower.

  • What the Ferrari 365 lacks in engineering innovation is more than offset by its classic Italian styling.

      What the Ferrari 365 lacks in engineering innovation is more than offset by its classic Italian styling.

  • 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4

      1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4
    Photos Courtesy of Prestige MotorCar Photography

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  • Video: 1973 Ferrari video

 
By Matthew Avery

Supercars are like fine wines. Give them enough time and sure enough they become better with age.

Such is the case with Ferrari's 365. Released in 1968, many anxiously expected the Italian brand to make a departure from the typical V-12 front-engine layout.

Crosstown rival Lamborghini had already gone that radical route in '66 with its mid-engine Miura and were rewarded with a top speed of 171 mph, claiming the fastest production car title, as well as the fascination of enthusiasts everywhere.

However, what the 365 lacked in engineering innovation and allure, it made up by relying on the brand's solid, tried-and-true methods: lithe Pininfarina styling and a devotion to unparalleled track prowess. The payoff was 174 mph -- earning back the coveted speed crown, and several decades worth of appreciation as auto buffs have come to revere the unfailing Ferrari formula.

One such devotee is Pete Traeger, who owns this red 1973 365 GTB/4.

"I've always loved the sleek styling of the car and its iconic nature. Growing up, this was one that definitely stood out in my memory."

The South Barrington resident tracked down his prancing horse from an owner in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., but even the multistate trek home couldn't compare with the exotic stallion's travel history. After being delivered to an Italian dealer in '73, it has traveled to owners in Southern California three times, Alabama, Nevada, Florida twice and even to Japan.

"The car was in good condition but had basically been untouched for ten years. It ran well and had little rust but desperately needed to be brought back to life," Traeger said.

To see where it stood on its road back to health, Traeger drove the car to the Ferrari Club of America's annual event, held in Elkhart Lake, Wis., and presented it for rigorous judging. The experts deemed it an 82 out of 100 points.

Determined for a triple digit score, Traeger employed the aid of two area Ferrari restoration and mechanical experts: Skip McCabe of McCabe Automotive Restorations in Mundelein and Giovanni D'Avola of Autosprint Imports in Chicago. With their help, Traeger was able to rectify the particular issues and has since returned back, garnering an impressive 94-point score.

While Traeger is proud of his vehicle's impressive parked pedigree, he knows that standing still is only part of the true Ferrari experience.

"With all that raw power, its very easy to not notice how fast you're going," he said, adding it's nearly impossible to duplicate the captivating sound and feel of the 12-cylinder engine. "It makes the perfect soundtrack for any road."

Keeping that sweet horsepower music playing regularly, Traeger pauses long enough to be seen at the Thursday night Barrington cruise or the Wednesday night Arboretum of South Barrington show. There, swooning spectators check out his exotic four-wheeled beauty and fall in love with the graceful lines and the once deemed 'outdated' design.

Just goes to show that this is one fine speed machine that only gets sweeter with time.

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