Creating a replacement for the hugely successful 250 series of Ferraris was a daunting task for the engineers at Maranello. As the 250 series was highly successful both in the showroom and on the track, it effectively etched Ferrari’s name into the automotive history books. With numerous wins at Le Mans, the Tour de France, Sebring, and Daytona, the 250 LWB TdF, the 250 SWB, the 250 LM, and the 250 GTO were the gold standard of sports car racing, all designed and engineered under the same roof no less, and now Ferrari needed to top their own series of world-beating sports cars with something even more extraordinary.
In terms of improving on the competition pedigree of its predecessor, the 275 standard platform proved to be an excellent starting point. It possessed a nearly perfect weight distribution, which was largely thanks to an engine that was mounted low and further back on the chassis than usual and a counter-balance by a new five-speed transaxle. It also boasted a fully independent suspension both in the front and rear, as well as servo-assisted disc brakes.
For 1965, Ferrari constructed three lightweight GTB Competizione Speciales, which were graced with 250 LM dry-sump racing engines in order to try the model’s hand in competition. Whilst the Scuderia only managed a 2nd in class finish at the Nürburgring, following a DNF at the Targa Florio with 06885, Ecurie Francorchamps campaigned the very same car (chassis 06885) at the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it placed an amazing 1st in class and an even more monumental 3rd overall, which was an incredible result for a GT car duelling with sport prototypes. It was this success that encouraged Enzo Ferrari to develop the car further for the 1966 season.
Building on their results from the 1965 season, Ferrari launched a new model in the GT class for the 1966 season. The car, dubbed the 275 GTB Berlinetta Competizione, or 275 GTB/C for short, was designed around a completely new chassis, which was specifically designed for this model. The chassis, designated Tipo 590A by the factory, boasted reinforced wheel hubs, and it was lighter and stronger than the standard 275 chassis. Ferrari also chose to fit an outside oil-filler cap on the top of the passenger-side front wing, allowing for access to the oil tank. The Borrani reinforced wire wheels were 7×15 in the front and 7.5×15 in the back, specific to the GTB/C, and they were shod with Dunlop Racing tyres; whereas, the standard 275 was fitted with 14-inch wheels.
At the heart of the 275 GTB/C was the new Tipo 213/Comp. engine, which was developed from a Works car that campaigned in 1965. The engine block itself received extra reinforcement in the form of external ribs, and the casings of the sump, timing chain, cam cover, and bell housing were built in Elektron, much like the other Ferrari competizione models. Other improvements included higher-lift camshafts, reinforced pistons, special valves, and a special crankshaft. The GTB/C was also graced with dry-sump lubrication, allowing the engine to sit lower in the chassis in an effort to further reduce the car’s centre of gravity.
When homologation papers were filed, Ferrari somehow neglected to mention to the FIA that the 275 GTB had a six-carburettor option, so the GTB/C was homologated for a three-carburettor manifold only. In order to make up for this mistake, a trio of larger, specific 40 DFI3 units was used, which helped the motor yield 275 brake horsepower at 7,700 rpm. The GTB/C also lacked rigid torque tubes; however, an exposed driveline meant less weight and facilitated quick repair, if needed, during a race, especially on the clutch.
Of course, the car needed a body that was just as beautiful on the outside as its mechanical components on the inside, and the design of the 275 GTB won just as many hearts as it did races. Pininfarina came through with another breath-taking design that was in turn gorgeously executed by the craftsmen at Scaglietti. With a short rear deck, long, shark-like nose, and wider than the standard road cars, the 275 GTB/C’s bodywork was just as elegant as it was imposing, and it looked at home tearing down the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans or sitting in front of the Hotel de Paris. Extremely thin aluminium bodywork was utilised for the GTB/C to shave an extra few grams of weight, and Ferrari designers chose not to carry over the three vents and outside filler cap from the 7,000 series cars.