The Ferrari 275 GTS replaced the 250 GT PF Series II Cabriolet. Introduced simultaneously with the 275 GTB at the 1964 Paris Auto Salon, the two models were markedly different in their respective designs. Cleaner and more muscular, with open headlights, an egg crate grille, and wing vents, the open Spyder variant was clearly intended for the American market and California in particular, where the attractiveness and marketability of a grand touring cabriolet had long been established.
Built in Turin, the 275 GTS bodies were assembled from steel with alloy doors, bonnets, and boot lids to form a rather conservative, yet tremendously attractive design. Departures from the GTB continued to the interior, where the GTS’ seats were somewhat less bolstered yet trimmed in luxurious Connolly hides.
In keeping with its gran turismo character, the 275 GTS was powered by the latest 3.3-liter version of Ferrari’s proven Colombo V12 engine design, named after its designer, Gioacchino Colombo. Redlining at 7,000 rpm and developing 260 brake horsepower, this Tipo 213 powerplant was capable of propelling the nimble Ferrari to 100 kilometers per hour in just under seven seconds, en route to top speeds in excess of 220 kilometers per hour, depending upon rear end gearing. As with the berlinetta, the most important changes were in the chassis, classified as Tipo 563.
Enzo Ferrari had long insisted on live rear axles and leaf springs for his street cars, years after he himself had proven the benefits of independent rear suspension on the track. Perhaps it was his rival Ferruccio Lamborghini’s new 350 GT, with its twin cam V12 engine and four-wheel independent suspension, which finally spurred Il Commendatore to update his roadgoing models. Whatever the reason, the changes were dramatic. The front and rear suspension configurations were identical, with upper and lower wishbones and coil springs all around. Four-wheel disc brakes were standard and provided race-proven, fade-free stopping power, matching the legendary thrust of the V12 engine.
For the August 8, 1966 edition of Sports Illustrated, McQueen was asked to track test a fabulous group of new sports cars at Riverside. Among these was the 275 GTS. McQueen owned a 250 GT Lusso at this time. Of the 275 GTS he wrote,
With more inches than mine (the Lusso) and a
better power arc I was pushing 140 mph. Top speed in ideal conditions is better
t han 150. The car was set up just the way I like it – for oversteer in tight
corners and understeer in fast ones…The steering was heavy at 20 mph as it
should have been, and became progressively lighter as I went faster…Clicking
through the five-speed gearbox was a pleasure; Ferrari gearboxes shift like a
knife through butter. You throw the stick, and it just kind of finds its own
More recently, Bruno Alfieri adroitly summed up the enduring impact of the Ferrari 275 GTS and GTB within the context of the crowded sports car market of the 1960s. While Alfieri acknowledged that these two Ferrari models were certainly able to equal and surpass many of their contemporaries,