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Engine: Front, longitudinal 60 degree V12
Power: 300 hp @ 8000 rpm
Top speed: 166 mph
Expected price of winning bid: $14,000,000 – $17,000,000
Luigi Chinetti loved cars. There was no question about that. At 16 he became a mechanic outside of his native Milan, working for Alfa Romero until Mussolini’s tightly bound sticks and reeds came beating down a little too hard in Italy. Remaining with Romero, he escaped Fascism and moved to Paris, where he became a car salesman, then a race car driver. With two wins at the 24 hour Le Mans by 1934, Chinetti left for the United States in 1940 to compete in the Indy 500. With the outbreak of World War II at that time, Chinetti remained in the US, becoming a citizen in 1946.
After continuing to participate in races around the world, Chinetti brokered a deal with old friend Enzo Ferrari to become the first, and for some time, only, dealer of Ferrari automobiles in the United States. In 1958, Chinetti founded the North American Racing Team (NART), the group responsible for establishing Ferrari’s in the American racing circuit.
After the Ferrari 275 GTB/4 was introduced in Oct. 1966, Chinetti put in a special request with Enzo Ferrari for a Spyder version to be created. Initially, Ferrari declined, as they had also released a 330 GTS Spyder that same year. Undeterred, Chinetti contacted Sergio Scaglietti, Ferrari’s local coachbuilder. The bodies used on the 275 GTB and GTB/4 had been designed by Pininfarina, and Scaglietti was excited to have the opportunity to modify the car himself. After having Scaglietti present the idea to Ferrari, Chinetti’s request was approved and an order for 25 275 GTB/4 N.A.R.T. Spyders was placed. The first, chassis body 09347, was raced in the 1968 12 hours of Sebring, placing second in its class and doing absurdly well for a showroom model Ferrari.
The same car that tore up the Sebring was used by Steve McQueen in “The Thomas Crown Affair,” and then featured on the cover of Road and Track, where it was called “the most satisfying sports car in the world.” Sadly, despite the press coverage and love expressed for the car by McQueen, who even ordered one for himself, the cars did not prove to be as popular as Chinetti had hoped. Only 10 of the ordered 25 were created, and Chinetti was forced to discount the price of the remaining Spyders to be able to sell them.
Today, the idea that one of these cars would need a discount to be moved is nearly maddening. The remaining models are an ultimate collector’s car. And, if you have the means, at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance this August, one of these relics will be available for purchase and could become yours. Ordered from Chinetti himself by Eddie Smith, Sr., of North Carolina, this particular Spyder has been in the family, until now. The Smith family plans to donate all funds raised from the sale to charities the late Eddie, Sr. would have supported. With the last GTB Spyder to make it to auction selling at $3,900,000 in 2005, there are going to be some incredibly happy charities by the end of this year.