The 308 was what customers told Ferrari they wanted, the Daytona was what Ferrari thought the customers wanted, but the 275 Berlinettas were what he, the man, wanted


The 275 GTB has stood the test of time as well as any design in Ferrari history. In any of its many variations, its combination of aggression and aerodynamics is instantly recognized and unmistakably a Ferrari Berlinetta, a high performance GT with a giant stride and clearly defined purpose.

With only evolutionary changes from the first 2-cam 275 GTB of 1964, the 4-cam carried its major change under the hood: It was the first production Ferrari to adopt dual overhead camshafts, a head design evolved from the 275 and 330 prototypes. It made for a delightful sound and improved throttle response, and allowed a redline of 8,000 rpm. Delivered standard with six dual-barrel Webers and a racing-style dry-sump oiling system, its 3,280-cc V12 was rated at 300 hp.

Just 330 examples of the 275 GTB/4 were produced through mid-1968. Scaglietti built the bodies, most in steel, with alloy hoods, doors and trunks, as per standard Ferrari practice. But 15 or so cars were made entirely in aluminum-these were the best of the best, whose lighter weight takes maximum advantage of the torque and performance of the four-cam engine.

The 275 GTB/4 Berlinetta on offer here is just such an example. This rare Ferrari is completely original, including its paint and carefully preserved red leather interior. Showing less than 7,200 miles, it was carefully maintained in one of the oldest and best-known Ferrari collections in the U.S. for over 20 years and has never been apart, a true example of the way these cars were built when new. The current owner has freshened the car and used it enthusiastically, but sparingly.

SCM Analysis


This 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Alloy Berlinetta sold for $682,000 at the RM Amelia Island auction, held on March 13, 2004.

Whether aluminum or steel, or with two or four cams, the 275 Berlinetta is an exciting and pivotal Ferrari, a fact that was recognized from the day it was introduced. This was the first customer-oriented Ferrari GT with fully independent suspension, the first with a rear-mounted transaxle for optimal balance, and the first to ride on the light and strong magnesium wheels, all evolutionary developments derived from earlier Ferrari racing cars.

But more importantly than those firsts, the 275 also marked the end of an era for Ferrari. Setting aside the extremely limited production 250 GTO, the 275 was the last serial-produced dual-purpose Berlinetta and the last customer car that the factory made into a bona-fide race car. It was the last Ferrari to be unencumbered by bumper or emissions requirements. It was the last to be hand-built by pounding individual sheets of metal into beautifully sculpted shapes. And most significantly, it was the last Ferrari that was the sole responsibility of Enzo and his racing cohorts. After 1969, Fiat’s managerial hand, though judicious and beneficial, would be ever-present.

Perhaps the significance of the 275 is best reflected in a statement overheard years ago at the factory by 275 expert Dyke Ridgley: “The 308 was what customers told Ferrari they wanted; the Daytona was what Ferrari thought the customers wanted; but the 275 Berlinettas were what he, the man, wanted.”

The 275 GTB/4 Alloy Berlinetta pictured here sold for the highest price of any alloy 275 in the past decade, though of the 15 documented examples, only four have been offered in that time. One reason for the banner price is likely this car’s originality. It was presented in very good condition throughout, just as God and Ferrari intended. Great original cars, far rarer than their restored brethren, are bringing higher and higher prices and are shaping up as the next great trend in collectibility.

If you’re a 275 GTB aspirant, there are two good lessons to be learned from this sale.

First, it is important to understand the differences in 275 GTBs and their prices and determine what you can afford. Prices range from $200,000 to over $2 million, and of the 785 total 275 Berlinettas made, there are a baffling array of variations. Among your considerations besides just the 2-cam or 4-cam question and steel vs. alloy body are: short nose vs. long nose, three- and six-carb versions, the availability of three different driveshaft designs and two clutch types, and 2-cam heads with or without valve stem seals.

The bottom line is don’t buy one of these cars without doing a lot of research or having an expert at your side.

The second lesson I can illustrate from personal experience: Buy the best car you can afford and it will pay you back over time.

In the early 1980s, I bought a short-nose, two-cam, three-carb 275 in the teens, the absolute bottom rung of 275 GTB desirability. I really wanted an alloy-bodied six-carb car, which at the time carried a price differential of about $10,000-$15,000. But I figured that in a couple of years, the two-cam might be worth $50k, while the alloy would be in the $70k range. If prices did increase as I imagined, by getting in the market I was insuring against being left behind. I reasoned that I could sell the two-cam in a few years and make up the $20k difference to buy the alloy car at that time, much easier than waiting and trying to justify a $70k expenditure to my wife.

This seemed like relatively sound logic, sort of like buying the lowest-priced house in a nice neighborhood and planning to sell and move up as values increase. The problem is that the differential between good and exceptional is rarely static-it just continues to get wider and wider as prices multiply.

By 1998, Mike Sheehan pegged the cost of joining the hallowed clique of alloy four-cam owners at about $300,000, a $100k premium and 50 percent more than that of a steel-bodied GTB/4 that was commonly selling for $200,000 at the time. By comparison, my $20k two-cam grew in value only to about $100k, and though in the last five years its value seems to have doubled again, I am still left inexorably behind.

With “ordinary” steel GTB/4s now selling in the mid-$300k to mid-$400k range, this $682,000 sale shows that the market premium for an alloy body currently stands at about $200,000-$250,000, still near 50 percent.

A magnet for any Ferrari collector, the alloy four-cam will always be the ultimate 275 Berlinetta, but with the price premium at roughly the cost of a decent two-cam, short-nose 275 GTB, it bears some thinking about what you’re actually getting. After all, the alloy 275 GTB/4 looks no different from the other 300-plus steel-bodied versions. The performance enhancement of the alloy car is difficult to determine, but it’s easy to find the downside if you lean on a fender while changing plugs. The only figures I have ever found claim an alloy car is only between 55-80 pounds lighter, meaning you’re clearly buying exclusivity more than anything else.

And here, at around $4,000 a pound, exclusivity doesn’t come cheap.-John Apen

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