Ferrari 275 GTB/4 prototype heads to auction

From 1966-68, Ferrari built just 330 examples of the 275 GTB/4. The very first one will cross the block at the Coys London auction on May 18. Unveiled at the 1966 Paris Motor Show, Chassis 08769 showed off significant updates to Ferrari’s road-going grand tourer, including longnose Pininfarina bodywork and four overhead camshafts for the 3.3-liter V-12, which when fed by six Weber carburetors raised power from 280 to 300hp over the earlier two-cam car.

Combining race-bred performance and technology, the 275 GTB was already a home run for Ferrari because it combined a 5-speed transaxle with long-distance comfort and voluptuous bodywork, but this car was both better looking and faster.

After being shown in Paris, the car was sold to an American buyer and has since been in private collections in Switzerland and the UK. Coys actually sold it in Monaco in 2004 for a little over $420,000, but while the Ferrari market has obviously moved a lot since then, the actual car hasn’t. It has reportedly spent much of its time sitting still, and Coys recommends a “light recommissioning” before use.

The high estimate for this GTB/4 is $3.2M. It’s on the high-end even for a four-cam car, but it’s still a reasonable amount considering this is the prototype. In general, though, GTBs haven’t fared as well lately. As one of the seminal classic Ferraris, 275 GTBs were helped lead the charge in soaring Ferrari prices that started at the beginning of the decade. By 2014, good examples could routinely fetch well over $3M, and at Monterey three years ago Steve McQueen’s ’67 example sold for a record $10.18M. Things have since softened in the Ferrari market, with Hagerty Price Guide values for the 275 GTB/4 falling since their peak early last year.

So far in 2017, three 275 GTBs have sold at auction and all of them were slightly less valuable two-cam cars. Two sold in Scottsdale for $2.12M and $1.73M, and one sold in Amelia Island for $1.84M. Despite the staggering sums paid, they were considered inexpensive. If the four-cam prototype meets reserve in London and sells for anywhere close to the high estimates it will be strong money. But much of that will be because it’s a prototype and likely won’t be a trend-setting transaction.