Ex-Miles Davis 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider
The Ferrari NART Spyder is one of the rarest of rare Ferraris — a valued collectible today yet an orphan car back in the day.
Pininfarina designed the long-nosed, short-tailed 275 Ferrari in the early 1960s as a grand tourer to replace those ever-sweet 250 coupes and spyders. The two-door 275s debuted at the 1964 Paris Motor Show and ran through to 1968 as the 275 GTB and 275 GTS, followed by the GTB/4 the latter model with four overhead camshafts for a claimed 300 horsepower from the 3.3 litre V12 engine, some 20hp more than the twin camshaft V12s in the first of the 275 berlinettas and spyders.
All these front-engined Ferrari 275s ran with five-speed transaxle and independent rear suspension, a first for the Maranello marque, and the series was heralded then and now as among the world’s best sports cars of the era. Both 4.3 metre-long GTB coupe and convertible, in left or right-hand drive, sat on a 2400mm wheelbase with the spider running 14-inch Borrani wire wheels compared with the coupe’s alloys.
N.A.R.T FOR THE NORTH AMERICAN RACING TEAM WHICH CHINETTI HAD FOUNDED TO ATTRACT ENDURANCE RACERS AND SPORTING TYPES TO THE EXOTIC ITALIAN MACHINES
Plus, naturally enough, there was an alloy-bodied GTB/C with specialised suspension for customers who wanted to hit the local race circuit.
But by 1967 Le Mans racer and North American Ferrari dealer Luigi Chinetti was looking for a convertible version of the quad cam GTB/4 coupe which had arrived the previous season. Chinetti believed a successor to the beloved 250 California Spyder would help spark sluggish sales in the United States and he called on Enzo Ferrari and coach-builder Sergio Scaglietti for a spyder version of the GTB/4 275.
Unveiled at the New York Motor Show in April, 1967 this would become informally known as a NART Spider — NART for the North American Racing Team which Chinetti had founded to attract endurance racers and sporting types to the exotic Italian machines; some record it as a Ferrari 275 GTS/4, some as a GTB/4S though these cars were apparently only begrudgingly acknowledged by the factory.
Chinetti thought to order 25 of these special soft tops for the American market but sales were quite slow and only ten of the original roadsters were ever built by Scagletti from GTB/4 bodies.
But the beauty and performance of those original cars have inspired modern-day NARTs. It’s believed there are now some 15 NART Spyder tribute cars in the world, most created from Ferrari GTBs and GTB/4s although one Californian example used a donor 1985 Ferrari 400i, with handcrafted 275 bodywork and suspension, plus a V12 with six-speed transaxle from a 550 Maranello.
In 2003 renown British Midlands outfit RS Panels (Terry Hoyle and Bob Smith) took to restoring the ex-Miles Davis 275 GTB/4 berlinetta and finished up with a burgundy red 275 GTS/4 Spyder.
Davis, the famed jazz musician, had bought his bright red GTB/4 new in 1967 chassis 10669 and owned it for two years before it was on-sold in the North American market. By 2002 that Ferrari had made its way across the Atlantic to England and RS Panels for a full restoration.
And here, with roof removed, it became a GTB/4 Spyder for the 21st century before it found its way to Australia, still wearing its English registration, and into the care of Brisbane collector Peter Harburg.
And the Harburgs say this tribute Ferrari remains a remarkable car to enjoy and drive. “You could drive it every day,” say Lachlan Harburg. “Drives immensely well for a car of its age. There’s pretty responsive steering, the brakes are more than adequate. There’s no real compromise. The engine’s got a beautiful linear power delivery. And it makes a good noise, obviously. It starts very easily, very un-Ferrari like.”
The first of the original 275 GTS/4 NART Ferraris sold by Chinetti for some $US14,000 was raced at the 1967 Sebring 12-Hours. That same car, repainted red, then made a cameo appearance in the 1968 movie The Thomas Crown Affair with Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen, who later bought his own NART. But despite its exotic style, despite its Hollywood high profile and proven 165mph performance, the NART Spyder was by-and-large ignored by the enthusiasts of the day.
Yet in August 2013 a rare Ferrari 275 GTS/4, chassis 10709, sold for US$27.5 million at an RM Sotheby’s auction in Monterey, California, a world record for a motor car at the time. Ironically the original owner, Eddie Smith, himself had been an orphan who became a successful US businessman, bought this Ferrari new and reportedly drove it until his death in 2007. Proceeds from the sale were donated to charity by Smith’s family.
Sotheby’s described the Ferrari NART Spyder as “a vehicle that has stood the test of time in terms of sheer automotive drama, character, and splendour. An absolute thrill on the open road and a sure-fire entry to any concours event on the planet."
The tribute cars carry similar legacies to the original NART Spyder, itself a custom Ferrari.
ORIGINAL CARS HAVE INSPIRED MODERN-DAY NARTS. IT’S BELIEVED THERE ARE NOW SOME 15 NART SPYDER TRIBUTE CARS IN THE WORLD, MOST CREATED FROM FERRARI GTBS AND GTB/4S