“The most satisfying sports car in the world” is a seriously lofty title. The kind of recognition that’s rarely declared in such certain terms, a celebration as uncommon as the type of standout car upon which it was once bestowed. A celebratory endorsement of this magnitude must be applied carefully for not to be written off as simple hype and crass overstatement, something Road & Track were certainly only too aware of when they first printed these words in reference to the stunning Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Spider. That this historic title was decided by what was then arguably the greatest car-themed periodical in the world, allied with the fact that it was from a time widely recognized today as the most golden of motoring eras only adds to the considerable weight it carries.
Commissioned sometime in 1966 by Ferrari’s East Coast American distributor, the legendary and multi-faceted Luigi Chinetti, only 10 were eventually built between ’67 and ’68. NART, by the way, stood for “North American Racing Team”, Chinetti’s storied, semi-autonomous factory race squadron. Shipped directly from Scaglietti to his Greenwich, Connecticut, headquarters, each example reportedly cost Chinetti $8,000, and astonishingly, he struggled to sell them at a profit—. This same exact car came second at the 1968 running of the 12 Hours of Sebring, and was later that same year driven by Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair, in which she referred to it as “one of those red, Italian things”…
Built upon the heavily revised GTB/4 series of 275 cars released in 1966, all ten NART Spiders used its quad-cam, six-carb, dry-sump version of the fabulous Columbo V12. In addition to spine-prickling music, it churned out a rampant 300 horses from only 3.3 liters of swept displacement—an impressive specific power output by the standards of today, let alone nearly half a century ago.
Featuring discs and double wishbones at the corners and a rear-mounted, fully synchronized five speed transaxle with limited slip in unit, it was incredibly sophisticated for the day, and would still be considered so in 2013. Capable of 60 MPH in under six seconds and over 160 flat-out, nothing else on the street would come close for at least another generation. There’re very few things I’m nearly 100% certain of, but two of them are that I will probably never drive one, and that if I somehow miraculously did, it’d prove to be an absolute revelation.
And that’s ultimately what makes the NART Spider so special; like all truly extraordinary cars it’s not merely a collection of exquisitely engineered mechanisms draped underneath one of the sexiest bodies in automotive history—it’s a source of dreams, a prism to focus desires, and a powerful motivating force.
All photos courtesy of RM Auctions. for more details on this specific example which will be offered for auction at Monterey on August 16-17.