Presented by RM Sotheby’s.
A DIVISION OF LABOR—THE 275 GTB AND GTS
At the Paris Salon in October 1964, Ferrari introduced the 275 model line, consisting of a closed berlinetta (GTB) and an open spider (GTS), both of which were designed by Pininfarina. Production of the berlinetta form was licensed to Scaglietti, while responsibility for the open cars remained with Pininfarina’s factory in Grugliasco.
The open car was completely different in appearance and proportion to its closed sibling, though it was constructed of steel with aluminium doors, bonnet, and trunk lid. Uncovered headlamps, triple-louvered fenders, a tapered rear end, and standard Borrani wire wheels were the spider’s major physical identifiers, and those features were eventually carried over to the 330 and 365 GTS variants which followed. Yet underneath this unique skin, keep in mind that the 275 GTS still bears identical mechanical components as the performance-oriented 275 GTB, including a rear transaxle that minimized weight and optimized distribution of mass. As a result, both body styles of this exceptional model share a legendary reputation for superb balance.
Only 200 examples of the 275 GTS were built over an 18-month period of production, making the model far rarer than its closed sibling. Prized by marque enthusiasts today as the luxurious grand touring expression of the celebrated 3.3-liter platform, the 275 GTS has evolved into one of the era’s most collectable open Ferraris.
THE FOREIGN REPRESENTATIVE
According to research compiled by marque historian Marcel Massini, the 275 GTS offered here (chassis 07427) is a US-specification car (with instrumentation in miles) ordered via Luigi Chinetti Motors. Completed in late July 1965, it was originally clad in Giallo Fly over Nero Franzi leather. Rather interestingly, the car was not immediately shipped to America, but picked up from Maranello on 6 August 1965 by a Chinetti representative, Oronzo Nicola de Nora. For the next several months, the car remained within Modena province traveling on tourist delivery plates and enjoying service appointments at the Ferrari factory.
Additional service records from Modena through May 1967 show that American registration plates had been affixed sometime during the interim (possibly forwarded to Italy by Chinetti or a customer), and the car’s odometer recorded approximately 3,200 miles (~5,177 kilometers) just prior to export to the United States later that year.
It should be noted that the car’s presently mounted, Chinetti Motors “horizontal streaked” steel hardtop is a period-correct touch which harkens back to its interesting connection to the famed Ferrari importer. Remarkably scarce and immensely sought-after by the world’s most diehard tifosi, 07427’s distinctive Chinetti hardtop is a tremendous addition to its appeal.
LIFE IN AMERICA
After reaching the United States, our subject GTS laid low for a while until 1974, when it was recorded within the stable of Robert L. Brooks of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Between 1979 and 1989, it passed through several collections in California—the last of which had it completely restored and painted red.
By 1991, recently retired Microsoft CEO and car collector Jon Shirley had purchased this attractive 275 GTS and shortly thereafter submitted it to yet another restoration of his own specifications by his preferred marque specialist, Butch Dennison of Puyallup, Washington. During his subsequent nine years of ownership, Shirley greatly enjoyed the car, though he most often kept it displayed in his private museum alongside some of the world’s most significant Ferrari road (and race) cars.
In 2008, this handsome 275 GTS had gained the attention of yet another famous collector, the late-night television legend and producer David Letterman. Though it only resided briefly with Letterman, he is nonetheless regarded as quite the discerning connoisseur, and his ownership adds much to the car’s already remarkable allure.
Prior to the consignor, the last notable custodian of this 275 GTS was the esteemed marque enthusiast Dr. Vance Shappley of Germantown, Tennessee. Shappley is known for his penchant for collecting major Ferrari concours awards, and this car was fittingly restored under his care by the Bobileff Motor Company in pursuit of this goal. At this time, 07427 was clad in its present (and striking) color combination of black over a medium red leather cabin with matching black soft top.
Bobileff’s efforts immediately proved their worth, as the car was consequently bestowed with Platinum, Forza, and Best Pre-1974 V-12 awards at the 2018 FCA National Meet. This 275 GTS also picked up yet another Platinum Award at that year’s Concorso Italiano, and Best in Class at the 2018 La Jolla Concours d’Elegance. The following year it was subsequently heralded with yet another Platinum Award at the 2019 Cavallino Classic.
Since entering the consignor’s collection, 07427 has been furnished with a very thorough regimen of mechanical restoration items by the legendary marque specialist Bob Smith Coachworks of Gainesville, Texas. Important items addressed by Smith and his team include a full suite of new hoses, lines, gaskets, mounts, linkages, bearings, perishables, and hardware throughout much of the car’s numbers-matching powertrain and underpinnings. The 3.3-liter Columbo V-12 was treated to rebuilds of its Weber carburetors, alternator, and distributor. Interestingly, a desirable “interim” driveshaft conversion was completed, which utilizes an updated design originally provided to Ferrari’s subsequent Series II 275 GTB/S of 1966.
Furthermore, five new Michelin XWX tires were sourced and fitted around 07427’s Borrani chrome wire wheels. In turn, the car’s entire brake system was sorted and refreshed with many new components, including calipers, boosters, and cylinders.
For the owner that might wish to indulge in open-top performance and the loud chorus of 12 Maranello cylinders, the well-sorted V-12 engine beckons for stomps of acceleration out of the turns of twisting vistas. Chassis 07427 is a highly desirable example of one of Pininfarina’s most successful open designs, and it would handsomely complement the collection of any Ferrari enthusiast or sports car aficionado. With its fascinating provenance and exhibition history, and having just emerged from a mechanical restoration by one of the world’s foremost marque specialists, 07427 is an ideal midcentury Ferrari offering not to be missed.
It is surely ready to enjoy on the most thrilling open roads and exhibit upon the finest concours greens.
This vehicle will be offered at our forthcoming Monterey auction, 18-20 August. See the entire catalogue online and register to bid today.