Ferrari had offered competition specification GT cars to customers since 1950, beginning with the 166 MM Berlinetta and followed by the 250 Series in 1953. The 250 Mille Miglia evolved into the 250 GT Tour de France, and in 1960, Maranello introduced the 250 GT SWB Comp/60, and the Comp/61 a year later. The 250 GTO arrived in 1962, pushing the envelope of GT car design to new levels as it remained a dominant figure in its class through 1964. When the FIA refused to homologate the mid-engine 250 LM for the 1965 season, Ferrari built four special competition cars based on the 275 GTB. They were equipped with the 250 LM-specification engines and wore bodies comprised of the thinnest possible aluminum. Among the accolades achieved by these competition cars was a 1st in Class at LeMans and 3rd overall. A limited series of 12 similar cars were built for the 1966 season and were known as the 275 GTB/C, with the 'C' representing competizione.
The Ferrari 250 series was replaced by the 275 GTB Berlinetta and the GTS Spider in 1964. The styling was by Pininfarina and manufacturing by Scaglietti. The chassis used a conventional ladder frame design formed from oval-section steel tubing, with stopping power provided by Dunlop disc brakes on all four wheels. The suspension was independent with double wishbones, coil springs, and Koni shock absorbers. The bodies were fabricated from steel with the doors, hood, and trunk lid built from aluminum. Ferrari offered all-aluminum coachwork as optional, and approximately 72 examples were so equipped.
Under the bonnet was a double overhead camshaft 3.3 liter Colombo-designed 60-degree V-12 engine designated Tipo 213. It had a bore of 77 mm and a stroke of 58.8 mm, and represented the final development of the Colombo V12. It used three twin-choke Weber 40 DCZ 6 or 40 DFI 1 carburetors as standard and produced approximately 280 horsepower at 7,600 RPM. An optional six twin-choke Weber 40 DCN carburetor setup was available, boosting output to 320 hp at 7,500 RPM. Power was sent to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual transaxle with Porsche-style synchromesh and a limited-slip differential.
The 275 was the first road-going Ferrari equipped with a four-wheel independent suspension system (previous versions had live rear axles) and a transaxle (albeit, some Ferrari competition models such as the 250 Testa Rossa received this feature).
275 GTB Long Nose
Several mechanical and cosmetic changes were introduced in 1966, resulting in the 'Series II', also known as the 'long-nose' due to the frontal bodywork being lowered and lengthened, along with a smaller front air intake. The previous cars became known as the 'Series I' or 'short nose' models. Mechanical upgrades included the installation of a torque tube between the engine and transaxle, revised engine and transaxle mounts, the trunk hinges were changed from internally to externally mounted, and the fuel filler, fuel tanks, and spare tire were relocated. The rear window grew larger resulting in better visibility.
Ferrari built 442 examples of the 275 GTB between the fall of 1966 and the summer of 1966, with 236 of those being 'short-nose' and 206 being 'long-nose' examples.
275 GTB Competizione Speciale
The four Competition Specials were the first racing version of the 275 and were designed under the supervision of Mauro Forghieri. Three examples were manufactured between late 1964 and early 1965, while the final example was built in 1966. The Tipo 213 engines sourced from the 250 LM produced upwards of 305 horsepower and complimented the lightweight alloy bodywork and streamlined shape. Additional weight was reduced through the use of magnesium castings for parts of the engine and transaxle, Plexiglas for the windows, and drilling holes in interior panels. The wheel arches were flared to accommodate the wide Borrani aluminum-rimmed lightweight wire-spoked wheels wrapped with Dunlop Racing tires. The interiors were spare, devoid of non-essential materials, and the trunk housed a long-range fuel tank with internal filler caps.
Initially, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) refused to homologate these racing specials for GT competition, but eventually granted Enzo permission after he threatened to stop competing in the GT class. One 275 GTB/C contested the 1965 GT season (chassis number 6885), racing at the Targa Florio (DNF), the 1000km Nürburgring (13th overall) and the 24 Hours of LeMans (3rd overall). At LeMans, it was driven by Willy Mairesse and Jean Blaton for Ecurie Francorchamps. After LeMans, it raced at the 500 km of Bridgehampton (11th overall) and the Nassau Tourist Trophy (1st overall).
275 GTB Privateer Competition Cars
Ferrari built ten examples of the 275 for competition purposes for privateers, and to ease the homologation process, they were less radical as the 275 GTB/C Speciales. They were similar to the production 275 GTB with several modifications to the alloy bodywork, additional exterior fuel filler, larger capacity fuel tanks, and extra venting. The engine remained the same powering the road-going 275 GTBs - a Tipo 213 unit with 6 carburetors.
These ten examples were followed by an additional 12 lightweight 275 GTB/C racing cars for the 1966 season. Most of the 275 GTB/Cs were sold to privateers trusted by Ferrari including Ecurie Francorchamps, Maranello Concessionaires, the North American Racing Team, and Scuderia Filipinetti. These cars proved to be very successful in competition, capturing class wins at Monza, Montlhéry, Nassau, and Le Mans. Two of the twelve were sold for street use and rode on standard 275 GTB-style alloy wheels with Pirelli tires.
The 275 GTB/C was equipped with engines similar to the four 'Competizione Speciales' - a Tipo 213 V12 with LM-type sodium-filled Nimonic valves, a redesigned crankshaft, Weber 40 DFI/3 carburetors, and competition pistons. Lightweight magnesium castings were used throughout the engine in place of the standard aluminum, and a dry-sump lubrication system replaced the standard wet-sump road-going system. Ferrari failed to report to the FIA that the production 275 GTB had a six carburetor option, so only a three carburetor setup was homologated. Since the three carburetors would mean less power, Weber developed the 40 DF13 carburetors and were unique to the 275 GTB/C.
Mauro Forghieri and the Scuderia Ferrari engineering team substantially altered the bodywork and many of the mechanical components. The design of the body remained very similar to the production 275 GTB Series II 'long nose', but were lightweight versions constructed by Scaglietti. They wore a slightly shorter nose, wider front and rear fenders, and the 0.28 think aluminum panels (joined with rivets) were about half as thick as the ones used on the 250 GTO. Fiberglass was used to reinforce the entire rear section and plexiglass was used for the side and rear windows. The floor panels were made of thin fiberglass, the seats were magnesium-framed, and holes were drilled in many frames and internal panels. The bumpers were visually similar to the road-going versions but were purely cosmetic, made of thin material and the rear bumper was simply fastened to the bodywork sheetmetal, and lacked an internal supporting subframe. Through these extreme measures, the 275 GTB/C shed approximately 330 pounds compared to the alloy-bodied road cars.
While the 275 GTB Series II used a torque tube driveshaft, the 275 GTB/C did not. Instead, it used the Series I-style open driveshaft with a similar transaxle but with a magnesium case, a strengthened clutch, close-ratio gears, needle bearings between the gears and the main shaft, and a strengthened ZF limited-slip differential.
The 275 GTB/C was the final competition Ferrari to wear wire wheels. The specially-made Borrani wire wheels were wrapped with Dunlop's newest 'M Series' racing tires which had so much grip, that they often overstressed and broke the spokes, often resulting in several crashes.
These twelve second-series 275 GTB/C examples represented the pinnacle achievement of the series and proved to be the final GT car built by Ferrari's competition department. It mirrored its predecessor's class win at Le Mans with two more such triumphs in 1966 and 1967, resulting in a GT-class three-peat at La Sarthe.
by Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2005
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