Estimated to fetch from $6 million to $8 million when it goes under Gooding & Co.’s hammer, Lot 143 of the Jan. 18-19 Scottsdale Auctions, this one-of-a-kind automobile served as Ferrari’s prototype and development car and competed in the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally. The race has been a showcase for improvements and advancements in automobile technology since its 1911 inception.
The prototype Ferrari 275 GTB was the foundation for the entire 275 program, succeeding the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta when it rolled out of the Maranello, Italy, factory. Motor Trend Classic named the 275 to the No. 3 spot on its list of the top 10 Greatest Ferraris of all time, behind the 250 GTO and 365 GTB/4 Daytona.
“This car has basically been off the radar for the last 25 years,” says David Brynan, a senior specialist at Gooding. “Nobody has seen it.”
Designed by Pininfarina, with coachwork constructed by Scaglietti, this first example of the model was originally built with short-nose bodywork and used for experimentation before it was upgraded to the long-nose body that Ferrari would use for its production models. The 275 evolved during its four-year production run to encompass short- and long-nose two-cam models, four-cam Berlinettas, and NART Spiders.
Ferrari retained the prototype through early 1965 as a test machine for the production model—and also as a promotional tool to introduce the model to the public via photographs.
“The 275 was important in that it was the first Ferrari road car with independent suspension all around,” says Brynan. “It had four-wheel disc brakes, it had a rear-mounted transaxle. So in terms of a Ferrari compared to the 250 series that it replaced, the 275 was a much more modern, state-of-the-art car unlike anything they had offered previously.”
The vintage classic features a 3.3-liter Tipo 213 V-12 engine, five-speed manual transaxle, and four-wheel independent suspension with wishbones and coil-over shock absorbers. Factory records show it was first painted Giallo Prototipo (prototype yellow), though a note on the delivery sheet indicates it was repainted Rosso Cordoba (red) before again being repainted to the original yellow.
In January 1966 the car was entered into the 35th annual Monte Carlo Rally under the Milan-based racing team Scuderia Sant’Ambroeus, the official entry for Ferrari. Then racing manager Eugenio Dragoni enlisted Ferrari factory test driver Roberto Lippi as navigator and rally driver Giorgio Pianta to handle the vehicle, now wearing the No. 43 badge on its coachwork, through the snow-covered race terrain.
Although forced to retire early from the rally because of driveline issues, Pianta waxed lyrical about the experience, describing it as “the most beautiful memory of my life” in a 1991 interview with Ferrari World. He went on to say he couldn’t remember anything that wasn’t beautiful about the car, making particular note of the tuning and braking. According to Brynan, 06003 was the only 275 model ever to participate in the rally.
In the intervening years it’s changed hands numerous times, spending much of its life in Europe before being transported to America in the 1970s. Prior to the current unnamed owner it was shown at the 1993 Cavallino Classic in Palm Beach, Fla., and has since been kept under lock and key, away from public view. The car retains its 06003-stamped engine, rally kit, a Sicilian dealership sticker on the rear window dating from the ’70s, as well as chalk marks and stampings throughout the car that attest to its unique status as the first 275 GTB built.
In terms of estimated price, it’s by no means top dollar for a collectible Ferrari, despite its historical significance. A 1962 250 GTO was sold by RM Sotheby’s at Pebble Beach in 2018 for $48 million. Gooding & Co. sold a 1967 275 GTB/C (one of only 12 made) for $14.5 million in 2017, though in general, collectible 275 models change hands for prices ranging from about $1 million to $4 million.