“For all its concessions to creature comfort, this is a hairy, demanding GT car that will stretch the driving skill of the most talented driver...” – Car and Driver tries the new Ferrari 275 GTS in October 1965, subsequently pronouncing it “the best open Ferrari we have ever driven”.
The Ferrari 275 GTS
In his definitive book ‘The Ferrari Legend, the Road Cars’, Ferrari authority of note Antoine Prunet titled the chapter on the 275 GTS thus: ‘More Power and Luxury’.
As always, the Frenchman was spot-on. The first open Ferrari since the immortal 250 GT California Spider SWB married 145mph performance with the premier cru exclusivity
expected by buyers of expensive open Ferraris.
The stylish new Ferrari 275 GTS made its debut alongside the ferocious 275 GTB at the October 1964 Paris Salon. Both carried 3.3-litre V12s and used the same 2.4-metre wheelbase. The open car was tuned for flexibility (260bhp vs 280bhp for the berlinetta), yet gave away only three or four miles per hour in maximum speed.
Both cars were designed by Pininfarina, although only the GTS was actually built – to the company’s usual high standards – in its Turin factory. All GTBs were completed by Scaglietti in Modena.
Stylistically, the pair looked very different: the GTB a racing GT for the road, the GTS a sublime and carefully crafted roadster for wealthy sybarites. The compact and harmonious lines of the GTS were in the 1960s Ferrari family tradition of ‘egg-crate’ grille, short overhangs
front and rear and open headlamps. It had independent rear suspension – a first for Ferrari road cars – a clutch mounted with the engine and a 5-speed transaxle. Unlike the closed car, GTSs ran on 14in Borrani alloy-rim wire wheels.
After a few early examples were produced with unusual 1 + 1 seating and finely louvred engine vents, most cars were delivered as proper two- seaters with three distinctive air outlets in the manner of the 500 Superfast.
Marque experts consider that 200 275 GTSs were sold before the model was superceded by the 330 GTS in 1966.
This Motor Car
Ferrari 275 GTS chassis 7297 GT was assigned to Luigi Chinetti Motors Inc (LCM) of New York and delivered in June 1965. The car was commissioned in Oro Chiaro with Rosso Scuro (VM 893) leather – the striking configuration in which it is presented today.
Ferrari factory records clearly state the first owner as ‘E. Hugus’. Research by Kidston SA reveals that this was, indeed, J Edward ‘Ed’ Hugus, the businessman and racing driver from Pittsburgh, who not only drove for Briggs Cunningham and the North American Racing Team but was also a prime mover in the Shelby Cobra project.
Hugus’s name is repeated in full on the order confirmation from SEFAC Ferrari to LCM (‘Mr. E. Hugus’) dated 29 April 1965, and the invoice from SEFAC to LCM (‘Mr. J. Edward Hugus’) dated 7 June 1965. The car was shipped to New York via Andrea Merzario in June 1965.
By coincidence, while the 275 GTS was on the high seas, on 19-20 June a Ferrari 250 LM entered by the North American Racing Team won the Le Mans 24 Hours. Although driven officially by American Masten Gregory and Austrian Jochen Rindt, it’s long been rumoured that regular N.A.R.T. driver Hugus took some stints in the car.
Ed Hugus’s ownership of the car was brief: on 12 July 1965 Chinetti received a purchase order from Waldorf Leasing, NYC, covering a trade-in of a Ferrari 330 GT plus $4,500. The finance was for Mr. H. Schneider of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who enjoyed the vibrant Ferrari until 5 October 1966 when it was traded back to LCM. On 7 December 1966 it was sold to Robert Williams of Jackson, Ohio.
Research suggests that the car remained in the US, and by the late 1970s it was in California, in the collection of Walter N Hunt of Grand Terrace, San Bernardino, and listed as such with the Ferrari Owners Club USA (FOCUSA) in July 1979. The following year Hunt registered the car in the 1980 FOCUSA Roster.
In 1986, the same register stated Joel M Matta MD, a distinguished orthopaedic surgeon from Burbank, CA, to be the owner. This is repeated until 1991, and in June 1995 Mr Matta showed the car at the Ferrari Club of America Southwest Region ‘Rosso Rodeo’ in Beverly Hills.
By the early 2000s it had returned to Europe. A copy of a letter from the Ferrari Owners’ Club of Great Britain dated 18 March 2004 declared that ‘7297 GT’ was in the UK, registered ABH 350C. It was subsequently exported to mainland Europe, the subject of a comprehensive Dutch restoration completed in 2012.
Our client, a long-standing Ferrari aficionado with a record of owning the finest cars from Maranello, including a 250 GTO and 250 GT SWB Competizione, purchased the car some five years ago. He immediately despatched it to his favoured restorer, multiple-award-winning Autofficina Bonini Carlo, which carried out an extensive overhaul totalling some €112,000.
Ferrari Classiche then inspected the car, granting it full Red Book status as an original, matching-numbers 275 GTS in December 2015.
Since then it has been used sparingly, and stands immediately ready for spring and summer motoring, hood down and foot down in the grand manner Il Commendatore intended.