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Last year we completed a painstaking four-year restoration of the ex-Peter Sellers Ferrari 275 GTB/4, and we’re now delighted to be bringing to market another special example of this landmark 1960s GT. It’s a car with which we’ve enjoyed a long relationship and which is now presented in spectacular condition following an exacting rebuild that we carried out for its fastidious owner.
The ‘four-cam’ holds a celebrated place in Ferrari history. During the 1950s and 1960s, Maranello defined everyone’s idea of a Grand Tourer with an iconic succession of cars that started with the first of the 250 GT line. From the long-wheelbase Tour de France models to the Short Wheelbase and the GTO, these Berlinettas played a key role in establishing the Ferrari legend and mystique.
By the time the 275 GTB was launched at the 1964 Paris Salon, Enzo’s company reigned supreme. That year, it won the Formula One World Championship with John Surtees, a works-entered 275 P took the marque’s eighth overall victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours, and the GTO claimed its third consecutive International Championship for GT Manufacturers. Ferrari’s stock had never been higher, and its latest GT model broke cover with a beautiful Pininfarina-designed, Scaglietti-built body and a 3286cc version of Gioacchino Colombo’s enduring V12 engine. Running on three Weber carburettors, it produced 280bhp; the optional six-carburettor set-up raised that to 300bhp.
The two-cam 275 GTB was built in two series – the early ‘short nose’ bodywork giving way to the revised ‘long nose’ cars during 1965. Then, in 1966, it was replaced by the 275 GTB/4. The capacity of the Colombo powerplant remained at 3286cc but it now featured two overhead camshafts per bank and competition-inspired dry-sump lubrication. The four-cam layout had been used on the Scuderia’s 275 P2 prototype racers during 1965, but this was its first appearance on a Ferrari road car. With six carburettors as standard, it produced 300bhp at 8000rpm, and a bonnet bulge was added in order to accommodate the air cleaners.
The model earned its motorsport stripes via a very small run of much-modified aluminium-bodied competition variants, examples of which won their class at Le Mans in both 1965 and 1966. Primarily, however, this was a high-performance road car, the finest expression of Ferrari’s GT know-how.
Completed on 29 July 1967, the example that we’re excited to offer for sale was delivered new to its first owner, Pietro Notarianni – the personal assistant of renowned Italian actor Renato Salvatori. Notarianni had collected the car on Salvatori’s behalf, and it was supplied in Argento with Nero leather seats. Although he enjoyed the car, Salvatori decided to sell it to the Moana Group the following year.
In 1971, the GTB/4 crossed the Atlantic and spent more than 10 years in America with a handful of enthusiasts that included serial Ferrari custodian Hal Burroughs. Many years later, James Cottingham met Joe Murdaca, who owned it during the early 1980s. Joe fondly recalled how wonderfully original and low-mileage it was – when sold to a Japanese collector in 1982, it had covered only 24,000 kilometres from new.
The car returned to Europe and was given a minor restoration in Switzerland, during which it was refinished in red. It then passed to a German owner who used it sparingly for the next 20 years before selling it with only 28,000 kilometres on the clock.
Following another brief period in the USA, it was brought back to Europe and in 2010 we returned it to its original shade of Argento. We also carried out a great deal of recommissioning work before selling it to a prominent UK-based collector. We subsequently handled its sale on two further occasions, and when the current owner acquired it he enjoyed it for a summer before deciding that it was time to carry out a restoration of the highest order.
During the 18-month process we discovered that the Ferrari was a very genuine and corrosion-free example, and contained a number of particularly nice original details. Being an engineer, the owner played a key role in the restoration and insisted upon removing the fibreglass floors – a big job that is often bypassed during such work, but which is crucial if the job is to be done properly. The exacting standards and attention to detail also extended to drilling small holes in the chassis, flushing it out and filling it with Waxoyl.
Even the Perspex headlamp covers were painstakingly thought through. These are usually fixed with self-tapping screws that you have to remove in order to clean up the headlamps themselves. Instead we fitted rivnuts into the body while we were doing the metalwork so that, in effect, they are secured by a nut and bolt. It looks the same from the outside, but they can be easily removed, the threads will never strip and they’ll always go back on perfectly.
As for the new Perspex covers themselves, we made a tool so that we could re-stamp the original markings on them. Everything was as detail-correct as possible, and personal touches included a hidden battery cut-off switch so the car could be safely parked up outside a hotel overnight and not have the switch in an obvious location.
Once the restoration was complete, we carried out 700 kilometres of running-in and discovered that the car was absolutely perfect. It’s now a very rare thing indeed – a car that is restored to an extraordinarily high level in terms of its condition, but which also drives as impressively as it looks. It has since been used only on sunny days, and has still covered just 31,700 kilometres from new. Once more presented in its original silver-grey, it is Classiche Certified and comes with a tool kit plus a superb set of period brochures, manuals and documentation.
For many enthusiasts, the 275 GTB/4 represents Ferrari’s peak in terms of being a manufacturer of great GT cars. It brings together all of the best bits from the marque’s first 20 years, balancing sublime looks with a mechanical specification that includes the five-speed transaxle and independent suspension all round – plus the silky-smooth, torque-laden, four-cam Colombo V12. Little wonder it’s become one of the most sought-after of all Ferrari road cars.