Looking Back At The N.A.R.T. Spyder That Stole Our Hearts In Monterey
Photography by Thomas Lavin
Of the hundreds of classic and modern automobiles on display at the Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, there was one special drop-top that I couldn’t take my eyes off of. Finished in Argento over Rosso, a flawless 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 N.A.R.T. (North American Racing Team) Spyder was perched gracefully above a green crowded by worthy Ferraris from multiple eras.
The car in question though was the brainchild of Luigi Chinetti, the founder of the North American Racing Team from which the car gets its name. He had won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times and the 24 Hours of Spa twice before becoming the first Ferrari importer in the United States—talent behind the wheel and behind the desk, it seems. Despite an appearance in the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair starring Steve McQueen, only 10 N.A.R.T. Spyders were produced due to unexpected low demand. Chinetti had original commissioned 25 cars from Maranello, and the first nine, the last of which is the car pictured here, were sold through Chinetti’s dealer in Connecticut. The 10th and final car was sold in Europe.
The bodywork, designed by Sergio Scaglietti, makes the car appear as if a convertible was always the plan; nothing looks like an afterthought here, and you won’t find any odd bulges added to accommodate the rag top. To my eyes, even among the buffet of beautiful cars to look to the left and right and fore and aft, the Spyder was nothing short of gorgeous in comparison. Road & Track went so far as to describe the coupe as the “most satisfying sports car in the world,” and this is very much able to live up to such claims.
It comes from an era of beauty through simplicity, when the elegance of a car was more important than the number of times the manufacturer’s badge appeared on the panels. Inside and out, the car is nearly identical to the 275 GTB/4 it is based on, and the only obvious distinguishing traits are the convertible roof (of course), and a tastefully placed N.A.R.T. badge positioned between the driver-side brake light and the license plate. The front and rear plates shown on the car are for display purposes only, if you were wondering.
All 10 N.A.R.T. Spyders are powered by the same 3.3L quad-cam “Colombo” V12 as can be found in the standard 275 GTB/4, producing 300 horsepower and capable of bringing the car to a top speed of more than 165mph. The first N.A.R.T. Spyder, which was featured in the aforementioned Thomas Crown Affair, was also raced at the 1967 edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race and managed to finish second in its class. The 8th car produced, chassis #10709, was sold for a staggering $27.5 million at auction in 2013, making it among the most expensive automobiles ever sold. Although the Spyder wasn’t popular at the dealership, it will certainly be remembered as one of the most iconic Ferraris made in the period that’s often regarded as their finest. It comes as no surprise that this car managed to win best in class at the Quail.