Obscure Auto: Ferrari 275 GTB/4 N.A.R.T. Spyder

Ferrari 275 NART Spider Silver 2If one day a magical genie came up to me and said “I will give you any classic Ferrari you want”, my choice would be this 275 NART Spyder. Yes that’s right, I would rather have this car than the legendary 250 GTO or 250 Testa Rossa. Why, you ask? Because I happen to be more of a road car person. I like racing cars just fine, but for me, driving perfection is found with the wind in my hair, and the hum of a great engine bellowing off the trees as I cruise by. Going on a real world journey in a great car may be my favorite thing to do, and it is the sole reason this 275 NART Spyder was commissioned by Luigi Chinetti back in the 1960’s.

Ferrari 275 NART Spider Silver 17

The original Ferrari 275 twin cam came about in 1964, replacing the 250 series of cars. Also in the Ferrari lineup at the time was the 330 series, and they took a more luxurious approach to motoring while the 275 carried on the sport focused, racing derived approach of the 250. The only thing was that the 275 GTS, a convertible roadster, followed more of the 330’s approach, leaving the 275 GTB coupe as the only focused sports car. This was so much the case that the 275 GTS was replaced by the 330 GTS in 1966. Also in 1966 the 275 would see a large overhaul to both its technical and exterior design, becoming the 275 GTB four cam. With this overhaul, Chief US Ferrari importer, Luigi Chinetti, had the opportunity to fill the void he saw in the lineup.

Chinetti knew there was demand in America for a sport-focused roadster version of the 275, and had been pushing Enzo Ferrari to make one for some time. With the introduction of the updated 275 GTB/4, Chinetti seized the opportunity to pitch the idea to Enzo yet again. This time he brought up a connection to his American Ferrari racing team “N.A.R.T”, and Enzo liked the idea of building the car as a tribute to their successes on the track.

Chinetti commissioned a custom run of twenty-five 275 NART Spyders to be built by Scaglietti. In the end only 10 cars would be produced due to lacking demand, largely caused by anticipation of the 275 GTB’s successor, the 365 GTB/4 “Daytona”. This makes the 275 NART Spyder one of the rarest Ferrari road cars of all time.

Ferrari 275 NART Spider Silver 11

Mechanically it shared the same 3.3L V12 as the 275 GTB/4, producing around 300hp. The top speed was slightly lower than the coupe’s, at a purported 155mph, but that was a trade well worth making to those who bought one. On the street, having the wind in your hair, and the sound of that V12 all around you is far more desirable than absolute structural rigidity. Even so, the first NART Spyder to reach US shores found itself immediately competing in the 1967 12hrs of Sebring, where it placed second in class and finished 17th overall. That same car was later repainted and used on the set of The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), which starred famous gear-head actor, Steve McQueen. McQueen wound up liking the car so much that he bought one for himself later on.

The 275 NART Spyder was not a major model for Ferrari at the time. In fact, it would be this cars successor, the 365 GTS/4 aka “Daytona Spider”, that would solidify the appeal of future sporting roadsters for Ferrari. 122 Daytona Spiders would be produced, many more than the 275 NART, but still just a handful by most production standards. However, it is really the 275 NART Spyder that began the tradition of making very limited production, convertible versions of the sport/GT Ferraris. We have seen this legacy continued into modern times with the likes of the 550 Barchetta, 575 Superamerica, and most recently the 599 SA Aperta. Each of these modern offspring have been limited to just a few hundred units, but none can even compare to the rarity of the original. That is why the ten existing 275 NART Spyders are each worth millions of dollars at this point.

The 275 NART Spyder is a side note in Ferrari history, but as it turns out, it left a fairly decent precedent for the future. I think the 275 GTB/4 is one of the prettiest Ferraris ever made, so to have a roadster version makes it absolutely ideal in my eyes. It’s just too bad I can’t go back in time with $8,000 in cash, and buy one for myself.

-Nick Walker

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