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Girardo & Co.’s guide to the 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione Clienti

Just 10 Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione Clientis were built and today, they represent the sweet spot between the ‘standard’ road variant and the full-fat racer. Using this exquisite Rosso Chiaro example, which we were recently honoured to find a great new home, we’re going to show you exactly what distinguishes the model and why it’s among the most sought-after Prancing Horses of them all…

That most versatile of Gran Turismos

Whether you were a stinking-rich businessman cruising to and from the boardrooms of Europe in peerless style, a young heir to an industrial empire burning through the family wealth at a rate of knots or a keen gentleman racer with one eye on the track and the other on the females of the paddock, there was a Ferrari 275 for everyone in the 1960s – everyone with the means to afford one, that is.

By 1960s standards, Ferrari’s elegant twelve-cylinder Gran Turismo was offered in a raft of different configurations, although few are as desirable to collectors today as the Competizione Clienti cars, of which just 10 were built at Ferrari’s competition department in 1965 and stamped with ‘7000’ series chassis numbers.

Born of a bitter dispute

The latter is ironic, because if Enzo Ferrari had gotten his way, the 275 would never have received competition development to the extent it did. When the FIA refused to homologate the mid-engined 250 LM as a GT class entrant, Il Commendatore was understandably upset. Not only did it mean his new, thinly disguised prototype was forced to compete as just that, a prototype, but it also left Ferrari without a competitive GT runner.

This is where the Ferrari 275 GTB enters the fray. With its robust chassis, four-wheel independent suspension, transaxle gearbox and powerful  (and perhaps more importantly reliable) 3.3-litre Colombo V12, the Pininfarina-styled berlinetta was ripe for a racing transformation – even if that was never really Ferrari’s intention. Perhaps more fortunate was the timing of its arrival, towards the end of 1964, after Enzo’s falling out with the FIA. 

Molto Speciale

After making experimental racing modifications to two early 275 GTB prototypes in anticipation, Ferrari went the whole hog with its first proper competition version. Dubbed the 275 GTB Competizione Speciale, the spectacular berlinetta is considered to be the natural successor to the immortal 250 GTO, and commands an accordingly high value as a result.

We’ll take a much closer look at these ultra-special race-bred GTs in another dedicated story, but the long and short of it is as follows. Three were built, equipped with lighter tubular chassis, potent six-carb dry-sump engines and featherlight alloy bodywork littered with motorsport-oriented features such as a nose akin to that found on the Ferrari 330 LM Berlinetta.

A beautiful compromise

Once again, Enzo had trouble persuading the FIA officials that his radical new car adhered to the GT class rules, which prompted the development of a slightly more conservatively modified racing version of the 275 GTB to satisfy the increasing demands of Ferrari’s customers. Christened the 275 GTB Competizione Clienti, just 10 examples left the factory’s competition department in 1965, assigned with ‘7000’ series chassis numbers and sold to VIP customers and privateer teams in Enzo’s favour. The car you’re ogling no doubt slack-jawed is one of the them.

Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione Clienti chassis numbers

Chassis number                                                LHD/RHD                          

07271                                                                     LHD            

07407                                                                     RHD

07421                                                                     LHD

07437                                                                     LHD

07477                                                                     LHD

07517                                                                     RHD

07545                                                                    RHD

07577                                                                     LHD

07623                                                                     LHD

07641                                                                     LHD

 

 

A left-hand-drive matching-numbers example finished in Rosso Chiaro over a black leather interior, chassis 07437 is one of just four Competizione Clienti cars with genuine period competition history. This car was raced extensively in Italy between 1965 and ’67 by Renzo Sinibaldi and Franco Failli, racking up a raft of class and overall victories.

“Christened the 275 GTB Competizione Clienti, just 10 examples left the factory’s competition department in 1965, assigned with ‘7000’ series chassis numbers and sold to VIP customers and privateer teams in Enzo’s favour.”

We recently had the privilege of finding this incredibly significant Ferrari Gran Turismo a great new home, and we couldn’t resist capturing the car is all its glorious detail here at Belchers Farm for this reference story on the 275 GTB Competizione Clienti. You can click here to discover more of the Ferrari’s fascinating history in our sold section.

The Competizione Clienti in detail

First and foremost, all 10 of the Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione Clientis are short-nosed cars fitted with lightweight Scaglietti-built aluminium bodies, a feature which was an optional extra on the ‘standard’ 275 GTBs. Intriguingly, these cars don’t have the elongated gutter aft of the side windows, which is an easy identifier of an alloy-bodied 275 GTB/4. Several of the cars were modified further by their owners – extra driving lights, quick-release bonnet catches, leather steering wheels and re-routed side-exit exhausts are all features we’ve seen, though don’t believe to be ‘factory’ spec.

The wet-sump twelve-cylinder engines were essentially identical in specification to the ‘standard’ cars, though they were carefully built and balanced to more extreme tolerances and crowned with six thirsty Weber 40 DCN3 carburetors. Power was reportedly at an impressive 285bhp.

Further back, there’s a larger endurance-specification 140-litre fuel tank – that’s an additional 46 litres over the ‘standard’ 275 GTB’s cell. Interestingly, the fitment of said fuel tank required the spare wheel to be mounted vertically instead of horizontally, resulting in the rear parcel shelf sitting slightly higher in the Competizione Clienti cars. Naturally, sound-deadening material was kept to a minimum, which serves to amplify the glorious symphony of the V12.

Perhaps the most obvious tells of this car’s competition credentials are the prominent quick-release fuel-filler cap on the right-hand sail panel behind the car’s signature trio of gills and the three cooling vents either side of that deliciously pert Kamm tail. Both are functional features that were race-proven on the illustrious line of competition 250s and get in-the-know Ferrari collectors and enthusiasts all hot under the collar today.

A word from the boss

Max Girardo shines a light on what the Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione Clienti is like from behind the wheel and the model’s overall appeal in today’s collector car market. “For a spirited point-A-to-point-A drive, the Competizione Clienti is sensational and an extremely different car to the ‘standard’ 275 GTB.

“Don’t be fooled by the similar soft styling – this Ferrari feels so raw and racy and highly-strung. It’s tangibly lighter and that commanding Colombo V12, breathing through six carburetors, has a sense of urgency and power that’s intoxicatingly addictive.

“Realistically we don’t all want to race, and for fast road driving, the Competizione Clienti is definitely the sweet spot between the ‘standard’ GTB and the later, more extreme and more fussy ‘9000’ series cars. Six carbs, alloy body, GTO-style fins, external fuel-filler cap – this Works competition Ferrari ticks all the boxes for today’s collectors. What’s more, it’s eligible for an invite to any event on the planet.

“If Ferrari hadn’t built all the 275 road cars, I’ve no doubt that the model’s competition offspring would be verging on the value of the 250 GTO.”

Closing statements

While the Competizione Clienti’s motorsport success was modest, the 275’s true potential on the racetrack was finally realised with the 12 ‘9000’ series cars which followed in 1966. These further-developed long-nosed cars were the only 275s officially designated as Competiziones, denoted by the ‘GTB/C’ suffix on their name. As with the Speciales, there will be another ‘Reference Points’ feature here on girardo.com exploring those cars in much more detail.

“If Ferrari hadn’t built all the 275 road cars, I’ve no doubt that the model’s competition offspring would be verging on the value of the 250 GTO.”

Max Girardo

An exquisite expression of the quintessential dual-purpose Gran Turismo recipe Ferrari had worked so hard to perfect over the preceding decade, the 275 GTB Competizione Clienti ranks extremely highly in the desirability stakes. We also don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that it is the most elegant Ferrari GT racer of them all, though of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

This factory-built competition Ferrari might be eligible for a wide array of prestigious historic events, from the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance to the Goodwood Revival, but for us that’s only half of the car’s appeal – the 275 GTB Competizione Clienti is also a staggeringly fast Gran Turismo that’s as scintillating to drive on the road as it is pleasurable to look at.

Defining features

  • Short nose
  • Alloy bodywork
  • External quick-release fuel filler cap on right-hand sail panel
  • Three vents in the rear flanks
  • 140-litre long-range fuel tank
  • Six Weber carburetors

Technical specification

3,286cc, 24-valve, 60-degree Tipo 213 V12 engine, wet sump and longitudinally mounted

Six Weber DCN/3 carburetors

Circa-275bhp at 7,600rpm

Five-speed transaxle gearbox, rear mounted

Steel tubular frame chassis

Independent wishbone suspension, coil springs over telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bars

Aluminium body by Scaglietti

Dunlop disc brakes at all four wheels

 

 

Photos: Robert Cooper for Girardo & Co.

Click here to discover more about the 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione Clienti chassis 07437 pictured in this feature, which we were honoured to sell late last year.

Reference Points is a new series of extensively researched features here on girardo.com in which we will be exploring the most significant historic road, competition and rally cars in detail, showing what distinguishes them, from both a visual and mechanical point of view, and why they’re so desirable in the context of today’s collector car market. This story is the first in our overarching definitive guide on the Ferrari 275.

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