Following the end of production of Ferrari’s 250 GT SWB Berlinetta model, the 275 GT Berlinetta was introduced as its successor at the Paris Auto Salon in October 1964.
Model nomenclature stemmed from engine and cylinder displacement: a key element that helped to differentiate the new from the old. The size of the 12-cylinder engine was increased to 3,286 cc from three liters, which made the capacity of each cylinder roughly 275 cc.
The new bodywork looked inspired by that of the 250 GTOs with covered headlights and a short sloping back. Like many previous Ferraris, it was pleasing to look at from any angle and was a typical representation of Italian automotive design principles of the time. It also featured air louvers incorporated in the front fenders and rear sail panels.
No bad lines, shapes or proportions are found on these coupes, and most automotive design analysts consider the 275 GTB series of Ferraris to be Pininfarina’s best work on the grand touring theme.
Perhaps the most significant development to the 275 GTB/4 was the addition of twin overhead camshafts per cylinder bank on the V12 engine. This powerplant – known as Tipo 226 – developed as much power as Ferrari’s competition twin camshaft engine; the power and torque of the competition motor was now available to customers in cars right off the showroom floor.
In addition to four camshafts, the Tipo 226 featured a number of engine modifications developed directly from race track competition. For example, the new quad-cam had a dry sump oiling system from the Motore Competizione. This prevented oil starvation in even the most severe G-force cornering situations.
Six twin-choke Weber carburetors fed fuel to the engine, allowing for outstanding mid-range torque. All told, this was a formidable powerplant, capable of propelling the four-cam to a terminal speed of more than 160 mph.
The engine, driveshaft and rear-mounted transaxle were combined in one sub-assembly, mounted to the chassis at four points. All of this helped to contribute toward a rigid, superb handling car with neutral handling and a near perfect 50/50 weight distribution.
In a published road test of the new Ferrari in January 1967, French magazine L’Auto Journal quoted French racing driver, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, as saying, “I covered in complete safety and the greatest comfort … and while carrying on a normal conversation with my passenger, the 46 miles which separate the Pont d’Orleans from Nemours in a little less than 23 minutes … at an average speed of more than 121 mph. Which is remarkable enough without noting that I had to stop for the toll gates.”
The Alloy Four-Cams
Although about 330 275 GTB/4 coupes were built in the 1966-67 period, only 16 of these were bodied in aluminum panels, according to Cavallino Magazine’s 1986 “The Four Cam” feature article by Dyke Ridgley. In reality this means that only five percent of the 330 GTB/4s produced were factory constructed in aluminum, making these an exceedingly rare variant.