Perhaps no car better epitomises classic Ferrari design than the 275 GTB. Penetrative nose, long bonnet, low cabin and a short, neat tail are the ingredients which make for a masterpiece of sports car design. The 275 GTB drew inspiration from the preceding 250 GTO and, despite its timeless appearance, introduced a number of important milestones for Ferrari including independent rear suspension, transaxle mounted gearbox and five ratios for the latter.
Following its launch at the Paris Motor Show in October 1964, subtle improvements to the original recipe were not long in coming. Towards the end of 1965 the nose was lengthened to improve high speed stability, coinciding with the enlargement of the rear window for greater visibility and resituating of the boot hinges to the outside in order to give a little more luggage space. Soon afterwards the open driveshaft was replaced by a solid torque tube for ease of maintenance.
Any 275 GTB is a special car, but this one is very special. It was bought as a personal gift from one of the 20th centurys most famous film directors, Dino de Laurentis, to show his appreciation to one of Hollywoods most enduring and instantly recognisable stars: Clint Eastwood.
Fast cars and fast living actors have always gone hand in hand, but Clint Eastwood, like fellow actors Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, had more than a passing interest in them. He went on to own several Ferraris and even became an entrant, acquiring a factory-built Group 4 Daytona in the early 1970s and having Paul Newman race it for him. Back in 1966, though, Eastwood was in the early stages of an epic career, having just broken into the big time starring as the laconic Man With No Name in the so-called Spaghetti Western films such as A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. 1966 saw Eastwood in The Witches, produced by Dino de Laurentis, who clearly appreciated his stars performance as he bought this brand new Ferrari 275 GTB for him as a present.
Ordered from Ferraris Maranello works by de Laurentis Polar Films company in Rome with coachwork in Grigio Notte (gunmetal grey) complimented by black leather upholstery, and optional head rests, radio console, Borrani wire wheels and mph speedometer, the new berlinetta was delivered to the Italian capital where Eastwood was on set.
One of Eastwoods first decisions was to change the cars colour to the present dark green, whilst later also fitting a CB radio (still present). Its duties over in Italy, the car was shipped to America for Eastwoods use and registered in Nevada in his name. At the time of writing we are waiting to confirm with Mr Eastwood the year he finally sold the car, but in the early 1980s it returned to Europe and entered the Musée de Muriaux here in Switzerland where it was to remain on display until the late 1990s. It then passed, via an English dealer, to the present South American owner.
Since then chassis 8359 has remained in Europe where it has been a regular participant in historic events, receiving maintenance by a well-known officina in Italy. The engine has been fully rebuilt with new pistons, and the car took part in the Tour Auto and this years 275 Tour in Italy without missing a beat. Unusually, though, the car is still cosmetically unrestored, with the original black leather upholstery, carpets and green paintwork dating from Clint Eastwoods ownership. It is English registered so local taxes would be liable if it remained in Switzerland.
Rarely do we come across such an interesting combination of a universally acclaimed Ferrari model whose history is inextricably linked with two of cinemas greatest characters, both of whom somehow seem ideally suited to the car in question. One can only imagine the reaction of Romes young female population back in 1966 when Hollywoods coolest star rode into town with Ferraris newest stallion
it probably made their day.
- A quantity of historical documentation is available for inspection in this cars file.