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"Peter Sellers was to comedy what James Bond was to film and the Beatles were to music...", and of course what Enzo Ferrari was to motoring.
Introduced in 1966, the 275 GTB/4 was the first four-camshaft engine to be used on a road-going Ferrari. Although the chassis was given a new type number of 596, it remained practically identical to the outgoing frame as featured on the two cam Series II Torque Tube model it was replacing. The Long Nose bodywork was also almost identical to the late 2 cam models; the most obvious change was the bonnet bulge to allow suitable clearance for the carburettors air cleaner. The body was fabricated predominantly from steel albeit with aluminium doors, bonnets and boot lids. An all-alloy body was also available but by special order only. The engines were substantially different to before, featuring dual overhead camshafts and competition-inspired dry sump lubrication. It retained the 3285cc but output had risen to 300bhp at 8000rpm. Having begun late in 1966, GTB/4 production was discontinued two years later after the completion of just 330 examples.
Undoubtedly the 4 cam is a much more useable Grand Tourer than its 2 cam contemporary benefiting from much greater torque throughout its rev range. This upgraded engine specification meant the 275 finally had a motor to match its credibly up to date design with disc brakes and independent suspension all round. In short, a 4 cam is one of the finest driving cars ever produced by Ferrari. To many, the epitome of La Dolce Vita, "the Ultimate Grand Tourer" the "4cam" is now one of the most widely appreciated and in demand collector cars.
This Left Hand Drive Ferrari 275 GTB/4 was completed at the factory in January 1967, it was delivered new to its first owner in Switzerland a couple of months later, a Mr Panchaud of Lausanne. Then in circa 1969 the car was purchased by Peter Sellers CBE. An avid petrolhead, Sellers had owned several Ferraris including both a 250 GTE and 500 Superfast. With quite the eclectic taste, he sold the white GTE after a week, reportedly falling out of love with the colour- hoping it might change after a week in the sun! Spending much time in Geneva at the time, the car was used as his daily driver for several years. The car was regularly seen with Sellers at the wheel and several photographs exist of him with the car. At the time of his ownership, the car was finished in Celeste over Biscuit hide as it presents today.
Master impressionist Peter Sellers was born Richard Henry Sellers on September 8, 1925 in Southsea, Hampshire, England. His parents, Agnes (Peg) and Bill Sellers, called him Peter in memory of his stillborn older brother. Sellers’ parents were vaudeville entertainers, and at two days old, Sellers was carried onto the stage at King’s Theatre. He spent his childhood traveling the vaudeville circuit, where he gained a fondness for entertaining and a desire to succeed beyond the realm of vaudeville.
The incredibly versatile Sellers could slip in and out of characters with surprising speed. His genius was displayed through his depiction of multiple characters in "Mouse" as well as in several other films throughout his career. Dr. Strangelove (1964), considered Sellers’ best film, earned him his first Oscar nomination in 1965. In 1963, Sellers introduced the world to his best-known character, Inspector Clouseau, The Pink Panther’s bumbling master of disguise. There were four sequels to this successful comedic film: A Shot in the Dark (1964), The Return of the Pink Panther (1974), The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), and Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978). 1982’s Trail of the Pink Panther is a posthumous collection of outtakes from the previous Panther films combined with new footage of other cast members.
Sellers garnered his second Oscar nomination for the critically acclaimed film, Being There (1979), in which he played the childlike Chance, a gardener mistaken for an economic guru. Sellers’ controlled performance was key to the success of this subtle comedy. The comedian’s film career ended just before his death in 1980, with The Fiendish Plot of Fu Manchu. Years after his death it was reported by his daughter, Sarah, that he had once tried to swap his Ferrari with Ryan O’Neal’s wife, and Sellers’s co-star at the time, Leigh Taylor Young. Could this be that Ferrari? Sadly we may never know, but the timing certainly adds up!
By the end of the seventies, the car was living once more in Lausanne. Mr Collet had bought the car and repainted it Rosso with a new leather interior in Nero. Mr Collet would continue to own the car until 1995. During his ownership he used the car regularly, including at an ACI Ferrari Days race in 1983 during which time it was spotted many times by the Ferrari historian Marcel Massini.
Purchased by its most recent owner in 2015, the car was immediately entrusted into our care. Having spent nearly 40 years finished in Rosso Corsa over Nero, DK Engineering were later tasked with a comprehensive bare shell “nut and bolt” restoration. The car was stripped down by hand, revealing very original metalwork underneath, although much in need of treatment in the vulnerable areas. The job was Absolute and totally comprehensive as is DK’s way, even the fibreglass floors were removed and restored (often left in place during restoration). The car was found to be in good original order with traces of the Celeste paint clearly evident making it easy to match the shade perfectly.
Once painted the entire mechanical assembly and wiring loom were refitted to the car having being totally restored by DK whilst the metal and paint work was being executed. Whilst tired and in need of work, the components were found to be in the main the original items that were able to be restored and conserved. Of course the matching numbers engine and transaxle were both totally dismantled and rebuilt to original specifications with all new consumable parts where required such as pistons, valves and bearings. Great care and attention was paid to the engine in particular to apply our in house modifications that help overcome and minimise the inevitable oil leaks. These oil leaks are a particular foible of the 4 cam engine that come about as a result of a flaw in the original design and equally, something only possible to rectify as a result of our extreme knowledge of the marque.
As is common practice for our concours restorations, the car was sent to world famed O'Rourke Coachtrimmers who installed the interior, once more in Biscuit VM3218 Hide. The rare (removable) factory option of headrests were reinstalled exactly as the they are shown with Mr Sellers. Completed in mid-2019, the car has completed its post restoration shakedown, as is required by our fastidious approach, when around 1,000 kms were covered by those involved in the restoration to ensure the car today is in the best possible running order, with all imperfections and “snagging” now corrected and the running in service completed.
Finished today in the delightful period combination of Celeste over Biscuit, the ex-Peter Sellers 275 GTB/4 is ready for its next custodian to use and enjoy. Fit for the concours lawn or the open road. And as attested by our DKTV videos, reviewed by the great Inspector Clouseau himself!
The Swinging 60s is without doubt the standout decade of the 20th Century, London was the most fashionable place on earth and Enzo Ferrari made the finest cars. The 275 GTB/4 is arguably the ultimate iteration of Ferrari from that decade. With its all round independent suspension, torque tube and 5 speed transmission, it is no surprise that many stars of this golden era including Steve McQueen the "King of Cool" chose the "4cam" as their method of transportation. Jazz Star Miles Davis was often seen in his red 275 as was photographer David Bailey, director Roman Polanski and comedy and screen legend - Peter Sellers.
A photographic library of the restoration of this vehicle can be found here:
(Classiche Certification has recently been awarded)