Passion

After an extensive restoration by the Ferrari Classiche Department, a driver was needed to put a unique 275 GTB through its paces at Fiorano. Step forward Charles Leclerc…
Words – Ben Pulman

The Fiorano circuit is used to playing host to the latest Ferrari road cars, and to the Scuderia’s Formula 1 drivers.

But Fiorano recently welcomed an unusual pairing, that of Charles Leclerc and a classic Ferrari 275 GTB.
‘At Ferrari, we ask our drivers to assess the restorations performed by the Classiche Department in order to be sure they match with the expectations of our customers – and the Formula 1 drivers are the best testers in the world,’ explains Andrea Modena, Head of Ferrari Classiche.

‘As part of Ferrari, all of the team within Ferrari Classiche are always immensely proud to give our drivers the opportunity to test these incredible cars. It was an honour and joy to see Charles at the wheel of this special 275 GTB.’

Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc acquaints himself with the meticulously restored 275 GTB

The car itself, chassis #08181, was recently completely restored by Ferrari Classiche, in Maranello, Italy. Built in January 1966, this bespoke 275 GTB was painted in a special dark green colour that was reproduced from a sample sent to Maranello by the original customer. The car was right-hand drive, with an interior trimmed with black leather, and specified with six carburettors and wire wheels. It was delivered to the UK importer of the time, Maranello Concessionaires.

‘The 275 was a breathtaking grand touring car in the 1960s,’ explains Modena. ‘The first cars were powered by a front-mounted 3.3-litre V12, and produced with either a two-seater coupé or spider body by Ferrari between 1964 and 1968. Importantly, the 275 series were the first road-going Ferraris equipped with a transaxle and independent rear suspension.’
Returning to Italy over five decades later, this 275 GTB had been changed to red, albeit still with a black leather cabin. The colour change has now been reversed by the experts of the Ferrari Classiche Department, as part of an extensive refurbishment that has seen the chassis checked and serviced, the body repaired where required, and the engine overhauled.

Moreover, as result of Enzo Ferrari’s fastidious documentation process, there is an unparalleled historical archive in Maranello that carries the information – down to the tiniest detail – for each and every car. ‘Thanks to documents such as the original build sheet that outlines the vehicle’s specifications, along with the designs of each component, and supporting items such as the bill of materials and the sales papers, we can say that the car is now exactly as she was when delivered by Ferrari in period,’ confirms Modena.

Once again as it was when it left the Ferrari factory in 1966, the 275 GTB is a beautiful grand touring machine

To achieve this – and to receive the much-vaunted Certificate of Authenticity – not only is the original specification strictly adhered to during restoration work, but checks are made to ensure the stamps on components such as engine, gearbox, and suspension comply with the original numbers. Numbers that are held in secret within the Ferrari Classiche archive.

Exemptions, of course exist, and should wear and tear have taken their toll over time, it is possible to have a replacement part re-manufactured. These are ‘original specification’ items, and with access to the foundry and machine shop, many parts are actually manufactured by the Ferrari Classiche Department in the same location as they were originally.

Charles Leclerc enjoys yet another lap of the Fiorano test track in a Ferrari quite unlike the ones he's used to piloting around this circuit

The 275 GTB will now return to its current owner, a Ferrari enthusiast and collector in Hong Kong, but how did its test driver feel after taking it around Fiorano?

‘What an incredible car to drive,’ exclaimed Charles Leclerc. ‘It’s pure joy – the sound is incredible, the feeling is amazing, and you can sense the story behind it. The vibe in this car is special, and it would definitely have been fun to have raced these cars in the ‘60s!’