Ferrari 275 GTB NART Spyder

The impact and continuing influence of the Ferrari 275 GTB belies its relatively brief life in Ferrari’s production. Introduced in October 1964 at the Paris Show, the two-cam 275 GTB evolved quickly. The original 275 GTBs developed undesirable aerodynamic lift at the high speeds this lightweight berlinetta was capable of reaching, an issue resolved by introduction of an extended nose version at Paris in 1965. Then, only a year after the four-cam 275 GTB/4’s introduction, the end of the 275’s production was signalled, again at the Paris Show, with the announcement of the 4.4 litre 365 GTB/4 Daytona. The last 275 GTB went down the line at Ferrari and Scaglietti in early 1968, barely three years after it was introduced. Some 750 were built in all versions, making this very much a “production” model by Ferrari standards.

At the same time, Ferrari and Pininfarina were busy turning out even higher production runs of the 330 GT 2+2, including other models such as the 275 GTS and 330 GTS cabriolets and 330 GTC. With so many developments and evolutionary changes compressed into a rapidly expanding production schedule at Ferrari, Scaglietti and Pininfarina – as well as the design and development of the Daytona, 365 GT 2+2 and 365 GTS absorbing the attention of Ferrari’s engineering staff – specialized variants of the 275 GT got scant attention.

Ferrari’s North American distributor, Le Mans winner Luigi Chinetti, had long argued for lightweight spyder versions of Ferrari’s berlinettas. Their performance was better than the heavier cabriolets, and their appearance appealed to an important segment of Chinetti’s loyal client base. They were, however, a distraction for Ferrari, even though they represented an addition to the product line that Chinetti, representing Ferrari’s largest market, felt was important. Chinetti’s request for a spyder version of the 275 GTB did not get serious attention from Ferrari and Scaglietti until well into the model’s history, in fact coming coincidentally with the introduction of the four-cam, six-Weber carburetted 275 GTB/4. When it finally arrived, Chinetti reinforced the connection between the lightweight spyder and Ferrari’s racing success in North America by attaching “NART,” for his North American Racing Team, to the model designation.

The first NART was rushed to Sebring for the 1967 running of the 12-hour enduro, placing second in its class and 17th overall and driven by Denise McLuggage and Marianne “Pinkie” Rollo. While Chinetti was prepared to distribute three or four dozen NART Spyders, in the end only 10 were built by Ferrari and Scaglietti, of which four are believed to have been built from inception as NART Spyders. The other six were originally berlinettas that Scaglietti completed as NART Spyders. Enthusiasts will also recall the NART Spyder’s cinematic appearance in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), starring consummate “car guy” Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway.

Ferrari became more amenable to the popularity of the spyder version with the Daytona, completing about 120 of the 1,400 or so Daytonas built as spyders. However, Chinetti’s vision of the appeal of the spyder was endorsed by later generations of collectors who astutely placed great value on its combination of style, performance and al fresco motoring. Decapitating Daytona berlinettas became a cottage industry in the 1980s. Less frequently, on account of their smaller production and greater value, few 275 GTBs have been converted to spyder specification.

Conversion of a berlinetta into a spyder is not a simple process. Both the body itself and the chassis must be strengthened to make up for the loss of the roof and supporting pillars. The folding top mechanism, even with the model of factory built examples to follow, and the boot into which it disappears is a complicated structure.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in October of 2009 at the Battersea Evolution, London.

280 bhp, 3,285 cc V12 engine, five-speed manual transaxle, four-wheel independent suspension with coil springs and telescopic shocks, four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5"

Source: RM Auctions

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