Cars

The Holy Grail Of Ferraris Is for Sale

This is among the most rare cars on Earth. The 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale is one of just three Ferraris designed to race against the mighty Shelby Cobra Daytona.

When it hits the auction block at RM’s Monterey sale, there’s a very real chance it rewrites the record book as the most expensive car ever sold at auction.

The 275 is an evolution of the legendary 250 GTO, which itself is no slouch—one of those sold privately last year for over $50M. The general idea of this car is to go as fast as possible, both in straights and through corners, so the aerodynamic shape of the car is designed to have as little drag as possible. The body is hand-beat with as thin a gauge of aluminum as Ferrari could possibly get away with, all in the name of saving weight.

The abrupt end uses the kind of aero tech you see today on a Prius or a Corvette; by chopping the car exactly where they did, the passing air continues as if there were bodywork for another few feet, thus saving more weight. Helping keep the car balanced, Ferrari developed what amounts to a rear-mounted transmission, providing a center of gravity that enabled the drivers to take full advantage of the car’s fully independent rear suspension. Ferrari’s first.

In true vintage sports car style, the hood is secured with a fine leather buckle that’s definitely nicer than the one you’ve got holding your pants up.

As if it were even remotely possible to think that this were a normal Ferrari, underneath the hood sits a special, competition-only, lightweight V12 that pumps out 320 hp.

Go ahead. It’s okay to stare.

When this car was developed, Enzo Ferrari was in the middle of a huge fight not just with Ford and Shelby, but the FIA, which controlled most international racing. As a result, only one of the three 275 GTB/C Speciales ever raced in anger. 

Despite not being a prototype, it finished third overall at Le Mans. No front-engined car has finished that high since, but just imagine for a second what it must have felt like to blast down the Mulsanne Straight at over 180 mph with this engine screaming in joy the whole time. 

Of course, a car that performs like this generates a lot of heat, so to keep certain vital components like the engine, brakes, and driver from overheating, there are no less than 30 different vents and ducts.

Some of the holes weren’t even originally supposed to be there, like the three on the nose. During the course of Le Mans, however, it became obvious that the cooling was necessary. Ferrari added ducts to the car that raced, and the owner of this one followed suit.

Form and Function, Part I: This might be the sexiest gas cap of all time, but it’s designed purely to make refueling faster during the course of a race.

Form and Function, Part II: Wire wheels were the lightest and strongest design of their day, and the knockoff hubs were, in reality, the fastest way to change a tire.

If you know of a nicer interior in a car that was designed purely to be a race car, please, let us know.

In the meantime, we’re just going to imagine this tach with the needle pointing straight up, the side exhaust piercing the morning mist in rural France, 49 years ago. It’s one thing to say “they don’t make ‘em like they used to,” but outside of this car and its two sisters, they never really do.


Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor. He's trying to think of a way to take a vintage Ferrari on a road trip through France right now. Follow him to aural bliss on Twitter.