Just when it seems the auction world's , another specimen with an unassailable provenance is discovered, documented, and promenaded across the stage. This latest example, a rare prototype and development vehicle for the legendary Ferrari 275 GTB, follows that trajectory to a point, but differs in the fact that its history is well documented, despite spending the last 25 years hidden away in the hands of a private collector. Virtually every transaction from when the car left Ferrari in 1965 until it was purchased by the current owner in 1994 is recorded, but the car itself has made few, if any, public appearances since the 1993 Cavallino Classic in Palm Beach, Florida.
Identified as chassis 06003 in the Ferrari factory’s Foglio Allestimenti, this vehicle represents the one and only 275 GTB "Prototipo." Constructed in 1964, it carries assembly sequence number 1, and appropriately was built in the original short-nose body style and fitted with one of the earliest 3.3-liter tipo 213 V-12 engines. The 275, of course, was the highly anticipated follow up to the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta, and as such features numerous technical innovations including a five-speed rear-mounted transaxle and an independent rear suspension, a first for a Ferrari road car.
Ferrari utilized the prototype through spring of 1965, and its duties included photography for promotional purposes. The prototype also served as a mule for revisions that would eventually be introduced into production cars. Most notably, the coachwork was updated to the long-nose style, a running change made to production cars after approximately 250 were built.
The most intriguing chapter in the prototype 275's biography may be its time as a factory-supported rally car. According to Automobile Club d’Italia records, the car's first private owner was Pasquale Ramera of Coccaglio, Italy, who acquired it in April of 1965. While circumstances remain a bit of mystery, it is generally accepted that "Ferrari’s racing manager, Eugenio Dragoni, and managing director, Ugo Gobbato, had a desire to test the 275 GTB in a rally and gather technical information on the model’s innovative new features, namely its transaxle and independent rear suspension."
At this point the prototype 275 was equipped with special rally equipment said to include auxiliary driving lights, reinforced glass, a 75-percent locking differential, radiator blind, a modified hood, and a third windshield wiper. Reportedly the car served as a test bed for two types of Dunlop tires along with Finnish Rengas Alas tires. To the surprise of many, the car soon turned up on the starting line of the 35th annual Monte Carlo Rally in 1966 wearing the number 43, with Milan-based racing team Scuderia Sant’Ambroeus listed as the official entrant. While not an official factory entry, the team did receive support from Ferrari, which provided two breakdown vans. Although driveline issues sidelined the car near Nyons, driver Giorgio Pianta later characterized piloting the car through the snow-covered Alps as "the most beautiful memory of my life."
Eventually, the car ended up in the U.S. in the hands of well-known Ferrari collector Charles "Chuck" Wegner, who in turn sold it an unnamed collector who maintains "one of the most significant private collections of Ferraris ever assembled."
Interestingly, the auction catalog notes that the car will require mechanical attention before use, leading us to believe it spent its recent years in a static state. Regardless, opportunities to own a 275 GTB of such historical significance are few and far between.
Interested parties will get their chance when the 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB prototype crosses the block as part of the Gooding and Company Scottsdale auction, taking place January 18 and 19, 2019.