1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Berlinetta

Coachwork by Pininfarina

Ask any motoring enthusiast to name the marque which epitomises the ultimate sports car and you can probably guess the answer: Ferrari. Go one step further and have him draw how the archetypal Ferrari should look, and there’s every chance the result will be inspired by the 275GTB.

The bloodline which made Ferrari famous as a producer of the world’s most beautiful roadgoing GT cars, the 250, was nearing the end of its competitive life on the race track and in the showroom as the early 1960s gave way to the middle of the decade. Rivals from established firms such as Aston Martin and Maserati were wooing Ferrari’s clientele, not to mention newcomers like Lamborghini and Iso, and in front line competition it had become clear that the days of the front-engined, multi-purpose GT were over as mid-engined, bespoke racing models with few if any roadgoing pretensions were now the order of the day. It was time to rethink Ferrari’s flagship GT car, and the new 275GTB which debuted at the Paris Salon in October 1964 was the answer.

The Ferrari 275GTB/4 drew on established principles but updated and refined them to create what many consider to be one of the greatest Ferraris of all. The classic Colombo designed three litre V12 grew to 3.3 litres, gaining useful power but above all torque, mated to a new five-speed gearbox to allow high speed motoring on Europe’s growing Autostrada network, and was rear mounted to achieve ideal weight distribution. Suspension was now independent all-round, improving the ride, and Pininfarina’s new masterpiece for the coachwork drew from the lines of the already immortal 250GTO, with a long, penetrating nose, low cabin and short, crisp Kamm tail. Viewed from any angle it was, and remains over a half century later, an icon of timeless, elegant yet aggressive design.

Revisions to the original 275GTB weren’t long in coming. A longer nose was introduced late in 1965 to aid stability as the upper reaches of the car’s performance were explored; the boot hinges migrated to the outside of the lid to aid practicality; the engine mounting was changed from solid to rubber bushed; and a torque tube now encased the propshaft to avoid vibrations developing in between servicing intervals. Aside from these modifications across the production run, the early 275GTB was available in a variety of guises depending on customer preference: steel or aluminium coachwork, three or six carburettors, and left or right hand drive. Outside filler caps and roll bars were available for those intending to race their cars, and Ferrari even offered a GTB/C version which was lighter, more powerful and destined purely for the track.

These upgrades, though, were not enough to stem the tide of rapidly approaching competition, particularly from an upstart marque in nearby Sant’Agata which had just launched a mid-engined, V12 sensation with four overhead camshafts as seen in the latest racing practice: Lamborghini’s new Miura. Ferrari’s response didn’t take long and appeared at the 1966 Paris Motor Show. As veteran author and experienced ‘old school’ Ferrarista Jess Pourret wrote in his definitive 1984 book on the 275: “It was the first [Ferrari] sold to clients with four overhead camshafts. Because of this engine concept, the 275GTB/4 is like a modern version of the fantastic sports-racers of 1957, the 315 and 335S…The 275GTB/4 is an extraordinarily fast and lively car. Its top speed is very high, a good 270km/h, but the main quality that makes it even more enjoyable is its extreme vivacity, thanks to the lack of inertia in its engine. Thanks to its medium displacement, its short stroke and the balance of all its mobile components, thanks finally to the number of cylinders and its twin camshaft per bank distribution, this engine is a sumptuous marvel. One barely dares to ask how high the needle of the rev counter can rise.”

Just 350 examples of this definitive 1960s Ferrari berlinetta left the Maranello factory between 1966 and 1968 when increasingly strict emissions and noise regulations in the company’s most important market, the USA, killed it off. Two years later the angular 365GTB/4 ‘Daytona’ took its place as the company’s flagship, but it was the end of a golden era. There has never been a time when a Ferrari 275GTB/4 has been ‘just’ an old car. They were bought by enthusiasts, connoisseurs and collectors throughout the age of mid-engined dominance in sports cars, and today a 275GTB/4 is, more than ever, a cornerstone of any world class Ferrari collection. It’s also great to drive.

Chassis ‘10011’ was supplied new via Baron ‘Toulo’ de Graffenreid’s Italauto dealership in Lausanne, Switzerland, to Paul Blancpain of Geneva, liveried in silver with black leather upholstery and optional electric windows. The next owner was Clement Mayoraz of Lausanne, who registered the car as ‘VD 109141’, before it was acquired in 1972 by Michel Lepeltier of Geneva. It was to remain in his family for some 30 years until sold, together with the rest of his Ferrari collection, at Bonhams’ Gstaad auction (which we created and organised) in December 2003. The buyer was an Italian enthusiast, Marco Boroli, who had the car certified by Ferrari Classiche and showed it at the firm’s 60th anniversary celebration concours in June 2007. He also had the chassis, running gear, brakes, suspension and springs overhauled by Diena in Modena and the engine rebuilt by Officina Sportcar in Settimo Milanese.

The car returned to Switzerland with its next owner, joining an impressive collection including a 330LMB and other rarities, during which time the engine was carefully gone over again (at an internal cost of CHF.40,962) by Ferrari agent Niki Hasler to his customary Swiss standards. From this collector it passed into an equally impressive Swiss stable which has previously included a 250GTO, from which ownership it is now offered.

Still finished in its handsome original colour scheme, Ferrari Classiche certified, recently serviced by Officina Bonini in Italy and still Swiss registered, this iconic Ferrari 275GTB/4 is ‘on the button’ and ready to be enjoyed for many years to come.

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