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AUTO NEWS: Fans on both sides of the GTO divide get a rematch

NORFOLK, Va. -- The year was 1964, and Car and Driver's new editor, David E. Davis, was looking for a way to make his mark. His solution? Pit Pontiac's new GTO against Ferrari's 250 GTO.

NORFOLK, Va. -- The year was 1964, and Car and Driver's new editor, David E. Davis, was looking for a way to make his mark. His solution? Pit Pontiac's new GTO against Ferrari's 250 GTO.

The formula has been replicated many times since, but in 1964 this was audacious. What's more, the Pontiac won.

The review's opening line tells the tale: "Ferrari never built enough GTOs to earn the name anyway -- just to be on the safe side though, Pontiac built a faster one."

Of course, Pontiac GTO buyers would never be able to replicate the magazine's performance numbers for a simple reason: Jim Wangers, Pontiac's PR guy at the time, had the GTO's 389 cubic-inch V8 engine replaced with a 421, although that wasn't publicly acknowledged until five years ago.

Ferrari loyalists howled, but it put the magazine on the map.

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Twenty years later, editor Davis staged a rematch with Dan Gurney participating in the story. This time, the Ferrari won, and it was time for the Pontiac enthusiasts to howl: The Pontiac was used, with some 80,000 miles on it, and the Ferrari was not.

Another 20 years later, Davis was gone from Car and Driver, having established Automobile Magazine with Rupert Murdoch some years before. The epic battle was never satisfactorily won.

Look for the score to be settled on the weekend of May 1, 2010, in Williamsburg, Va.

Patrick Duffeler, who helped form Philip Morris's "Marlboro World Championship Team" for Formula 1 racing in the 1970s, and owner of the Williamsburg Winery, will host the second annual "Ferraris on the Vine," during which the battle will rage once more.

Davis will serve as grand marshal. Jim Wangers will be there; so will the original 1964 Pontiac GTO used in the test. In Ferrari's corner: a 1984 288 GTO as well as a 1964 250 GTO.

"Ferraris on the Vine" started last year, the brainchild of Williamsburg resident Bob Weber, the former associate publisher of Automobile Magazine who founded the online magazine "Winding Road" with Davis in 2004. Davis has since rejoined Car and Driver, while Weber has joined the winery as vice president of marketing.

The show was announced Saturday at the second annual Tidewater Motorcar Gathering at the winery.

Weber says that "Ferraris on the Vine" is an officially sanctioned show by the Ferrari Club of America.

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All things considered, this promises to be one of next year's most notable car shows.

Mark your calendars now.

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