It took just a few minutes for the the Ferrari 275 GTS/4 NART Spider to appear in the the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair, but anything tangentially within the realm of Steve McQueen will get elevated to lofty heights. Especially a custom-bodied Ferrari.
The NART Spider was the creation of Le Mans champion Luigi Chinetti, who opened the first Ferrari dealership in America. If the relatively unknown brand was going to capture the attention of Americans, then he'd have to seek out gentleman drivers like himself. So to that end, he founded the North American Racing Team, focusing exclusively on top-level endurance racing. NART's roll call of winners included Pedro Rodriguez, John Surtees, Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory, the latter two whom were the last to win Le Mans with a Ferrari, a 250 LM in 1965.
On the roadgoing side of things, Chinetti had the great idea to get coachbuilder Scaglietti to saw the roof off the 275 GTB/4. We might find it baffling, but GTBs weren't exactly flying off his lot, even despite attracting the likes of , , , and hell, . Maybe a convertible would fare better. Chinetti ordered 25 from Maranello, but just ten were built and delivered—they still weren't selling well, . The Spider earned the cover photo of Road & Track's September 1967 issue. That same year, Denise McCluggage and Marianne "Pinky" Rollo finished second in class at the 12 Hours of Sebring with a NART Spider.
Today, everything's a different story. Vintage Ferraris are big business, 275s included. And the NART Spider featured in The Thomas Crowne Affair smashed auction records in 2013, selling for .
Likewise, RM Sotheby's has estimated , at an equally exquisite price, 23 million Euros, around $26 million. Come May 14th in Monaco, we may just see how accurate this estimate is. "The NART Spider is a vehicle that has stood the test of time in terms of sheer automotive drama, character, and splendour," its auction description reads. "An absolute thrill on the open road and a sure-fire entry to any concours event on the planet."
But let's face it: lest we ride shotgun for a or two, you and I and everyone we know will never see one on the road, howling at full or even mildly annoyed tilt. A pebble lodged between a single Borrani wire wheel spoke will lower the car's value by at least four figures. So, RM Sotheby's has put together this little video, above, uncorking the NART's sonorous V-12 and sending it on the road. "One of those red Italian things," says Fcostar aye Dunaway in the film, and it was really hers, and come to think of it, most of McQueen's heroines had some .
Images via ,