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The Ferrari 275: 1964-1968

The 275 is a series of Grand Touring cars built by Ferrari, in coupe and spider body types. The car was introduced at the Paris Salon in 1964 as a replacement for the 250 GT Lusso. Designed by Turin-based Pininfarina and built by Carrozzeria Scaglietti, they are some of the most beautiful examples of Ferrari road and racing cars.

275 GTB/GTS 1964-1966

The¬†275 GTB¬†(Gran Turismo Berlinetta) coupe was designed by Francesco Salamone at automotive design firm¬†Pininfarina¬†and featured flowing, aerodynamic body lines obviously influenced by the¬†Jaguar E-Type¬†that was released three years before, but with a distinct¬†Ferrari¬†flair. It‚Äôs easy to see why¬†Ferrari¬†wanted to build such a similar car to their rival, Enzo Ferrari himself called the¬†E-Type¬†‚ÄúThe most beautiful car ever built.” Comparisons to the¬†Jag¬†always seem to come up with this¬†Ferrari. It featured recessed bucket headlights with glass covers, optional knock-off wire wheels, a low oval grill and split front bumpers, much like the¬†Jaguar.

Unlike the¬†Jaguar, at least until the¬†Series 3 E-Type¬†arrived in 1971, the¬†275¬†housed a 3.3 liter Gioacchino Columbo-designed¬†Tipo 213¬†overhead-cam 60-degree V-12 under the hood instead of the¬†Jag‚Äôs 3.8 liter straight six. Enzo Ferrari had been impressed with the smoothness of pre-war¬†Packard¬†V-12 engines and was producing a V-12 of his own by 1950.¬†Ferrari¬†road cars of the time were given numeric designations based upon the size of a single cylinder, so the¬†275‚Äôs V-12 cylinders each displaced 275cc. Fuel was provided by three¬†Weber¬†twin-choke¬†40DCZ¬†or¬†40 DFI 1¬†carbs, and spark power came from a twin-coil system through a distributor mounted at the rear of the engine.¬†Ferrari‚Äôs advertised power for this engine was 280 HP, but in actuality was more in the 240-250 HP range. There was a factory option of six¬†Weber¬†twin-choke¬†DCN¬†carbs that¬†Ferrari¬†claimed bumped the HP output to 320, but really only provided a 20-25 HP gain over the models equipped with three¬†Webers. These are often referred to as ‚Äútwo-cam‚ÄĚ models to distinguish them from the later four-cam¬†GTB/4¬†and¬†GTS/4 NART Spider. The engine was initially mounted to the chassis at four points and drove the rear wheels through a rigid driveshaft supported by a central bearing. This arrangement allowed the engine and transaxle to act as stressed members of the chassis, which gave enhanced rigidity but increased noise and vibration, especially if the drivetrain was not carefully aligned. CV joints were later added at each end that allowed some misalignment between engine and transmission without causing problems.

The engine internals were derived from other V-12 Ferraris like the 250 GTE and GTO, but this was the final form of the two-cam Columbo V-12. Rear wheels were driven through a 5-speed manual transaxle, a Ferrari first, with a Porsche-style synchromesh to a limited-slip differential. This was the first transaxle fitted to a Ferrari road car between the rear wheels, although they had been used before and proven on racing models such as the 250 Testa Rossa. There was no automatic transmission option and honestly, why would you want one when the shifter engaged the next gear with such a satisfying *snick* after revving the buttery-smooth V-12 up close to its 7,500 RPM redline?

The chassis was a conventional ladder-frame design using oval steel tubing, while the rear suspension was a double-wishbone independent style with¬†Kini¬†shock absorbers and coil springs at all four corners, using technologies tested in earlier¬†Ferrari¬†racing cars such as the¬†250 TR¬†and¬†250 LM. This four-wheel independent suspension, partially developed by British racing driver Mike Parkes, was the first to be utilized on a¬†Ferrari¬†road car, models before it having had live rear axle suspension, and gave quite improved handling. Four wheel¬†Dunlop¬†disc brakes provided stopping power, but were rather inadequate because of their small size, non-ventilated discs and under-powered servos and calipers. Cast magnesium 14-inch ‚Äústarburst‚ÄĚ wheels were standard, but buyers could opt for the more elegant and stylish¬†Borrani¬†wire wheels instead, both shod with high-performance¬†Pirelli¬†tires. The car rode on a 2,400 mm (94.5 inch) wheelbase with an overall length of 4,325 mm (170.275 inches).

The Pininfarina-designed body was manufactured by Maranello-based Scaglietti, whose factory was conveniently across the road from Ferrari, with a steel body and aluminum-alloy doors, hood and trunk. A lightweight all-aluminum body could be had at an additional cost if the buyer so chose. The eggcrate grill opening was wider than the 250 GT Lusso that preceded it and the overall design was much more aggressive in appearance than that car, with powerful curves and lines that echoed the earlier 250 GTO. A long forward section with four vents on either side and a set-back cabin with its large curved windshield flowed sharply into the short Kamm tail with its circular combination taillight/turn signals in a slightly recessed panel. An almost flat rear window was flanked by sail panels with triple cabin exhaust air slots, echoing the four slots in the front fenders.

In the interior, the driver and passenger sat in leather bucket seats in a choice of colors with a wood panel dashboard in front. One steered the car with a traditional Italian thin-rimmed wood steering wheel, and a large speedometer and tachometer sat in a binnacle behind the wheel with temperature and oil pressure gauges in between. A center console held the gated shifter, in front of which was a panel with additional gauges, a clock, and rocker switches for various functions. Both windows were roll-down unless one opted for electric windows at an additional cost.

A¬†Series II¬†‚Äúlong-nose‚ÄĚ version was introduced in 1966, partly to cure some high-speed aerodynamic instability which caused the nose to lift with the original ‚Äúshort nose‚ÄĚ version, with several mechanical and cosmetic improvements. A torque tube was added between the engine and transaxle to relieve stress on the driveshaft and its support bearing, and the engine and transaxle were revised with two mounting points each, creating one rigid unit of engine, driveshaft and transaxle suspended within the chassis by four points. With the engine and transaxle no longer serving as stressed chassis members, the ride was slightly softer and noise and vibration issues on earlier cars were minimized. Cosmetically, the front bodywork was lowered and lengthened and the front oval air intake made smaller, which improved aerodynamics and reduced instability at high speeds. A flat hood replaced the ‚Äúshort-nose‚ÄĚ hood with a raised center section The rear window was enlarged to improve visibility and the fuel tanks, fuel filler and spare tire were moved to add more luggage space along with fitting externally-mounted trunk hinges instead of internal ones.

442¬†275 GTB¬†road cars were produced between 1964 and 1966, 236¬†Series I¬†‚Äúshort-nose‚ÄĚ and 206¬†Series II¬†‚Äúlong-nose‚ÄĚ versions.

The¬†275 GTS¬†(Gran Turismo Spider) was a two-seat grand touring convertible with a body both designed and manufactured by¬†Pininfarina, and looked entirely different than the¬†GTB¬†coupe while having nearly identical mechanicals save for not having a torque tube installed as on the¬†Series II¬†‚Äúlong-nose‚Ä̬†GTB. The same 3.3 liter V-12 was used, but slightly detuned to 260 HP as¬†Ferrari¬†decided that the cabriolet owner favored flexibility and torque over sheer power output. It featured an all-steel body as opposed to the aluminum-alloy hood, trunk and doors of the¬†GTB, with more conservative lines, a shorter hood, smaller, uncovered headlights and balanced proportions more suggestive of the earlier¬†250 Pininfarina Cabriolet¬†(and the¬†Triumph Spitfire, to a degree) than the¬†250 GTO¬†or¬†250 GT Lusso.

The high beltline ran straight from the front fenders, broken by only a slight rise, into the rear fenders and the rounded tail panel. It had the same 2,400 mm wheelbase of the GTB, but was 50 mm (1.96 inches) longer at 171.26 inches, and was only available with Borrani wire wheels. The Fiat 124 Sport Spider, also designed by Pininfarina, bears a close resemblance to the GTS. GTS models came with a folding cloth convertible top, and a removable hard top was a factory option although not many were produced and are a rarity today. 200 GTS models were produced, and it was replaced in 1966 by the 330 GTS with its four-liter V-12, leaving no 3.3 liter V-12 Spider in Ferrari’s lineup until a year later when the GTB/4 NART Spider was introduced.

Competition 275s 

You can’t really discuss Ferrari for long before the conversation eventually turns to racing. Enzo Ferrari was a former racing driver, and much of the profits from sales of his road cars went into various Scuderia Ferrari racing efforts. Many of his racers were modified into production road cars and vice versa. Competition versions of the 275 GTB were developed alongside the road cars for use in Grand Touring-class sports car racing, but the motivations for developing a 275 GTB racer were born out of frustration. By 1964 the 250 GTO racer was getting long in the tooth as far as competitiveness goes, and its planned successor, the 250 LM, was introduced late in 1963. However, the European racing governing body Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) refused to homologate the 250 LM for GT-class racing. Undaunted, Ferrari developed both an updated 250 GTO (Series II or GTO 64) and a competition version of the 275 GTB. Three versions were developed from 1964-66, a purpose-built 275 GTB Competizione Speciale (or 275 GTB/C Speciale), some less radical models to be sold to private racing teams in 1965, and finally in 1966 a modified 275, the 275 GTB/C.

1964 275 GTB/C Speciale

The 275 GTB/C Speciale had a thin-gauge aluminum alloy body with a more streamlined shape similar to the 250 GTO, and held a modified Tipo 213 engine producing between 290 and 305 HP. Additional weight savings was achieved through the use of smaller diameter chassis tubing, drilling holes in the exterior panels, using Plexiglas windows instead of heavier glass and using magnesium castings for parts of the engine and transaxle. This resulted in a 1,900 lb. racer that was significantly more lightweight than the 2,866 lb. steel-bodied road car.

The¬†FIA¬†at first refused to homologate the¬†275 GTB/C Speciale¬†for the¬†GT¬†class because of its light weight, but relented when Enzo Ferrari threatened to pull out of¬†GT¬†class racing altogether, but also promised to build customer competition versions if the¬†FIA¬†would homologate the car. It did reasonably well in endurance racing, finishing 13th overall at the 1965¬†N√ľrburgring¬†1000km¬†and third overall at the¬†24 Hours of Le Mans¬†that same year. Several different classes are represented in each endurance race, with prototype racers being the fastest and¬†GT¬†being on the lower end and much slower than prototypes such as the¬†Ford GT40¬†and¬†Porsche 904 GTS¬†that ran well ahead of the¬†275¬†and the rest of the¬†GT¬†class.

275 GTB Competizione Clienti

The customer competition versions,¬†Competizione Clienti¬†in Italian, were similar to the road cars with the exception of alloy bodywork with triple vents in the rear fenders, external fuel fillers and a larger 140 liter fuel capacity for racing, resulting in the relocation of the spare tire to a vertical position behind the fuel tank which made the rear section slightly higher. The engine was a six-Weber¬†version of the¬†Tifo 213¬†V-12 with very little in the way of modification, so they were considerably slower than the factory entries unless modified. It is still standard practice today in racing to sell lower-HP versions of factory racers to customers seeking to go racing with a manufacturer‚Äôs car. 10¬†Competizione Clienti¬†cars were produced, all¬†Series I¬†‚Äúshort-nose‚ÄĚ versions.

275 GTB/C

In 1965¬†Ferrari¬†built 10 new lightweight ‚Äúshort-nose‚ÄĚ racers, named 275 GTB/C. While they resembled the road cars, they were considerably different from them as well as previous racing versions. It had a special¬†250LM-type engine, a unique lightweight chassis that was also stiffer, and every body panel was different, made of even lighter-gauge aluminum that was half as thick as the bodies of the¬†250 GTO or Shelby Cobra. This made it extremely fragile; even leaning on the body would dent it. The ‚Äúwet sump‚ÄĚ lubrication system of the road cars was replaced by a ‚Äúdry sump‚ÄĚ to ensure that oil was transferred to the top of the engine even in high-speed corners. 12 ‚Äúlong-nose‚ÄĚ versions were built the following year.

A 1964 275 GTB/LM (Le Mans) Comptetizione Speciale, chassis number 06701, crossed the auction block at the Mecum 2024 Kissimmee auction but did not sell despite a high bid of 25 million. No sale is currently pending.

275 GTB/4 1966-1968

The final production run of the¬†275¬†was introduced at the¬†Paris Motor Show¬†in October of 1966 with the¬†275 GTB/4. This was the same basic platform as the ‚Äúlong nose‚Ä̬†Series II¬†with largely the same¬†Scaglietti¬†bodywork, save for an added hood bulge with creased edges to accommodate a larger air filter housing and a slightly modified chassis for an increased front and rear track. The body was again steel with aluminum doors, hood and trunk, but as with the¬†275 GTB¬†customers could order an all-aluminum body for an additional charge, although only a handful were so built.¬†Campagnolo¬†magnesium-alloy wheels were again standard, but the optional¬†Borrani¬†wire wheels gave the¬†GTB/4¬†a more handsome look.

The /4 indicated that the car was equipped with a four overhead cam version of the 3.3 liter V-12, designated Tipo 226. These engines had six Weber 40 DCN carbs as well as the aforementioned 4 camshafts, which were another first for a road-going production Ferrari. Lamborghini’s 4-cam 60 degree V-12 engine, first seen in their 1964 350 GT, motivated Ferrari to utilize the same configuration in the /4 simply to keep up with his new rival even though the performance gain was not what one would think. The valve angle was also reduced 3 degrees to 54 for a more compact head, and the 4-cam design allowed the valves to be aligned perpendicular to the camshaft rather than offset as in SOHC engines. Engine oiling was provided by a 17 quart dry-sump system as in the 275 GTB/C. This engine produced a claimed 300 HP and would propel the Ferrari to 167 MPH.

The torque tube from the Series II was retained, and improvements to engine cooling, exhaust and suspension made it a more formidable road car than its predecessor, with 330 produced during the run. The interior remained largely the same with the exception of leather dashboards rather than wood in most /4s built.

In an episode of¬†Jay Leno‚Äôs Garage, David Lee, owner of the¬†275 GTB/4¬†featured in the episode, mentioned a conversation he had with Enzo Ferrari‚Äôs son Piero. When asked what his favorite¬†Ferrari¬†was, Piero answered ‚ÄúThe¬†275 GTB/4, because my father taught me to drive in it.‚ÄĚ Imagine being taught how to drive in one of the most beautiful¬†Ferraris ever built, by the man who built it!

In 2004, Sports Car International magazine named the 275 GTB/4 number seven on its Top Sports Cars of the 1960s list. A red 1967 GTB/4, chassis number 9677, sold at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale AZ auction in March of 2021 for $2,475,000.

275 GTS/4 NART Spider 1967-1968

Ferrari produced a two-seat spider (convertible) version of the GTB/4 in 1967 at the request of their North American dealer Luigi Chinetti, who asked Enzo Ferrari and Scaglietti to produce a successor to Ferrari’s earlier 250 California Spider. Chinetti also ran the North American Racing Team, and despite never being an official designation these cars were informally known as NART Spiders, a name which persists to this day.

The designation was strengthened by the addition of a badge with the team‚Äôs logo on the rear of each car.At $14,400, the¬†GTS/4 NART Spider¬†was the most expensive¬†Ferrari¬†model in 1967. Chinetti originally intended to order 25 of these cars, but slow sales led to only 10 being built, making it one of the rarest 275 models.¬†Road & Track¬†magazine published a road test of the new¬†Spider¬†in 1967, describing it as ‚Äúthe most satisfying sports car in the world,” recording a 6.7 second 0-60 time, a 14.7 second ¬ľ mile and a top speed of 155 MPH.

The first chassis (09437) was entered in the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring race, finishing 17th overall and 2nd in the 5-liter GT class. Following that race the car was repainted from yellow to burgundy for its appearance in the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair, where it was driven by Faye Dunaway’s character Vicki Anderson. In August 2005, this car sold at Gooding & Co.’s Pebble Beach auction for $3.96 million.

Another 275 GTS/4 NART Spider, chassis number 10709, sold in 2013 at RM Sotheby’s Monterey, California auction for $25 million. This same chassis crossed the auction block at the Mecum 2024 Kissimmee auction, but did not sell despite a high bid of 26.25 million. Negotiations continue and a sale is pending according to the auction website. ✪

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