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1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C : Classic Cars

For the 1964 season a replacement of the 250 GTO was planned to race in the GT class. Ferrari's first bid was the mid-engined 250 LM, but due to the limited numbers built the FIA refused to homologate it for GT-racing. The limited time available forced Ferrari to continue racing with a slightly revised version of the GTO. A new body with cues inspired by the 250 LM were fitted to four old chassis and three new chassis were constructed and fitted with the '64-style' body. The 250 GT showed its age and was beaten on several occasions by Shelby's Cobra Daytonas.

When Ferrari launched a replacement for the 250 GT, the 275 GTB, it was only logical that the new GT racer would be derived from this model. However GT racing's popularity was fading when the world's focus turned to the prototype class in which Ferrari was faced with stiff competition from Ford, so the 275 GTB racer was not a priority. A batch of four special lightweight racers was constructed, but it faced homologation difficulties; its low weight compared to the road cars was the biggest problem. After the weight was increased considerably, the four were homologated late in 1965. After the problems with the four 'specials' Ferrari decided to construct a competition version that was only slightly modified and weighed as much as the regular short-nose 275 GTB. Of this a batch of 11 cars was built, these are easily identifiable by extra vents in the rear wings.

Now we come to the third series of competition 275 GTBs and the only ones known as the 275 GTB/C. Twelve were constructed in between the end of the 275 GTB production run and the start of the 275 GTB/4 run. Even though it closely resembled the road-going 275 GTB, not one bodypanel was the same and under the lightweight body very little reminded of the road car.

Mauro Forghieri designed a special lightweight version of the 275 GTB chassis. Regular suspension was fitted, but it was made slightly stiffer by the addition of extra springs. Scaglietti bodied the chassis with an ultra thin aluminium body; the panels were about half as thick as the ones used on the GTO and the Cobra. Even leaning on the 275 GTB/C would dent the body and the entire rear section was reinforced by fiberglass to prevent it from flexing at the slightest impact. In all this focus on saving weight made a difference of over 150 kg compared to the alloy bodied road cars.

Like the four specials, the 275 GTB/C was powered by the 250 LM engine. Somehow Ferrari 'forgot' to mention to the governing body that the 275 GTB had a six Carburetor option, so only a three 'carb' engine could be homologated. Specifically for the 275 GTB/C, Weber constructed the 40 DF13 Carburetor of which three would replace the six 38 DCNs found on the 250 LM. The rest of the drivetrain was similar to the 275 GTB's, but strengthened slightly.

Two of the twelve built were sold for street use. Unlike the race cars, these street cars were fitted with alloy wheels shod with Pirelli tires. Competition cars were fitted with special Borrani wire wheels, shod with Dunlop's latest racing tires. It was this combination that would prove to be the weak spot of the 275 GTB/C; the tires had so much grip that they could overstress and break the spokes on the wheels. After the 275 GTB/C no competition Ferrari would be fitted with wire wheels again.

On the track the 275 GTB/C proved to be a true heir to to the 250 GTO throne. Many class victories were scored and 275 GTB/Cs were campaigned in the USA up until 1975. Built for endurance racing, it beat many much faster prototype racers on reliability. Highlights on the victory list are class wins at Le Mans in 1967 and, to underline its long career, a class win at the 1969 Spa 1000 km race.

Focusing on Formula 1 and sports car racing, Ferrari did not develop a replacement for the 275 GTB/C and all subsequent Ferrari GT racers were based on existing road cars and/or built by other companies like Michelotto. Accordingly the 275 GTB/C remains as the last in a legendary line of Ferrari GT racers that include the 250 GT TdF, 250 GT SWB and of course the 250 GTO.

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Sources : 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Photo | 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Article


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