Ferrari 275 GTB/4

Introduction of the Ferrari 275 GTB/4 series at 1964’s Paris Auto Show marked the beginning of an entirely new lineup of Ferrari road cars. The series was comprised of open and closed body styles, but now the coupe’s look was clearly separate in character from the convertible’s. The closed Ferrari 275 GTB had an aggressive new berlinetta body. Styling of the Ferrari 275 GTS spyder was more conservative, but would enjoy a longer life span.

The 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB
The 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB "long nose" featured a berlinetta body.
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In both cases, these 275s were the first roadgoing Ferraris with independent rear suspension; it consisted of double wishbones, coil springs, Koni shocks, and an antiroll bar. Their five-speed gearbox was moved to the rear to become in unit with the differential for better weight distribution. And the engine was shifted slightly rearward, bringing the mass closer to the car’s center for better cornering.

Their 3.3-liter V-12 was the final development of the Colombo-designed “short-block” engine. Stroke remained 58.8mm, but bore was enlarged to 77mm, increasing horsepower and giving better low-end torque. Three Weber carburetors were standard, six an option for superior high-rpm acceleration.

The Ferrari 275 GTB/4

’s stupendous body was designed by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti. Sergio Pininfarina said the car’s resemblance to the Ferrari 250 GTO was anything but a coincidence; he and his design staff purposely looked to the all-conquering endurance racer when creating the GTB’s berlinetta shape.

Another view of the 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB.
The 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB featured an enlarged rear window for better visibility.

Ferrari followed the original Ferrari 275 GTB with an updated version launched at the 1965 Paris Show. It was dubbed the “long-nose” edition for its slightly lengthened and lowered nose, a tweak designed to reduce front-end lift at high speeds. Its rear window was enlarged for better visibility, and the trunk hinges were now on the outside. (A handful of competition versions were also made, three having a radically different body.)

Rave reviews greeted the Ferrari 275 GTB. America’s Sports Car Graphic 1965 test car did 0-60 mph in 6 seconds flat, and topped out at 156 mph. “Sleek, fast and luxurious . . . it’s strictly for the connoisseur” was the sum-up. Autosport’s six-carb GTB touched 160, and the editors called it “. . . a car so good it comes close to perfection.”

As good as they were, by 1966 those performance figures were no longer enough for a Ferrari. Upstart Iso’s two-seat Grifo cleared 160 mph, as did Bizzarrini’s Strada when properly geared. And Maserati was readying its own autostrada burner, the Ghibli. Most threatening, Lamborghini’s radical new midengine Miura could touch 170 mph given the right road on the right day.

Ferrari responded at the 1966 Paris Auto Show with the Ferrari 275 GTB/4. It was identical in appearance to the long-nose Ferrari 275 GTB -- save for a bulge on the hood that belied a 3.3-liter V-12 derived from Ferrari’s 1965 prototype racers. It had a dry-sump lubrication system and revised cylinder heads with four camshafts that gave the car its “4” suffix. Horsepower increased by 40, to 300 at a heady 8000 rpm.

Shortly after the Ferrari 275 GTB/4’s October introduction, Ferrari’s American importer, Luigi Chinetti, approached Enzo about making an open-air version of the car. The idea was initially struck down. But Chinetti had been dealing with Ferrari since the 1940s. He knew how to make things happen in Modena. He spoke with Sergio Scaglietti himself. An agreement was reached and Scaglietti went to work modifying the berlinetta to create 10 open-top versions.

The 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spyder.
The 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spyder featured a powerful engine.

The model became known as the Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spyder, “NART” an abbreviation for Chinetti’s North American Racing Team. The first NART Spyder (chassis 09437 GT) was made in February 1967 and sent to America, where it was entered in Florida’s difficult 12 Hours of Sebring race. Basically a stock car, it finished a very credible 17th overall.

The car became a celebrity of sorts. Road & Track tested it for a cover story in September 1967. The conclusion? It was “The most satisfying sports car in the world.” Another NART Spyder had a role in 1968’s The Thomas Crown Affair starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. Still, despite racing success, magazine coverage and a Hollywood hit, Chinetti had a hard time selling all 10 NART Spyders.

In hindsight, the NART Spyder was itself a turning point in Ferrari history. With America’s emissions regulations and safety laws being enacted as Ferrari 275 GTB/4 production ended, the NART Spyder would be the last Ferrari model for three decades that owed its existence to a well-connected individual’s request for a special run of cars.

Learn about these other great Ferrari Road Cars:

166 MM
250 GT SWB
365 CaliforniaTestarossa
212 Inter
400 Superamerica
365 GT 2+2
F40
340 America
250 GTE
365 GTB/4 Daytona
348
375 America
250 GT/L Lusso
365 GTC/4
456 GT
375 MM
330 GT 2+2
512 BBi
F355
250 Europa GT
500 Superfast
400i
F50
250 GT Boano
275 GTB/4
308 GT4
550 and 575
410 Superamerica
275 GTS
308 and 328
360 and F430
250 GT Coupe
Dino 246 GT
Mondial
Enzo
250 GT Spyder California
330 GTC
288 GTO
612 Scaglietti

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