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Blue on Blue

You've either got or you haven't got style. Four decades may separate these two V12 Berlinettas, however - colour apart - they have two things in common: crushing performance and sheer class.

The opportunity to line up two ‘flat’ blue, front-engined V12s was irresistible. The 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4, probably one of the finest in existence and a winner at last year’s factory 60th anniversary concours, is one of the highlights of the forthcoming RM Ferrari - Leggenda e Passione auction at Maranello in May.

Chassis 10017 was collected personally from the factory by its 21-year-old American owner on 7th June 1967, who then embarked on a European tour that included attending that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, held just a few days later...

The car retains its original colour combination of Dark Blue paintwork and Pelle Arancia interior, having been the subject of a meticulous restoration in recent years. Few 275s were factory-painted in red, and the subtle Pininfarina styling lends itself to variations of silver, pale blue, navy or yellow.

So much so that Ferrari now offers a range of classic colours available as options on new cars, a range that includes Blu Scozia, the colour of this 599 GTB.

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The race-derived four-cam 275 GTB/4, with its 5-speed transaxle, dry sump, limited-slip differential and six carbs, could be described as one of Ferrari’s last ‘racing cars for the road’; a natural culmination of 250 GT SWB and GTO development. Its engine capacity and twin-cam heads came straight from the 1965 sports prototype P2, and contemporary road tests timed the car from 0 - 100mph in under 15 seconds or so, topping-out at over 165mph. Its 3286cc, 300bhp motor approached the magic (for Grand Prix cars of the time, that is) 100bhp/litre at 91.3bhp/litre.

Fast, long-bonneted and with plenty of weight - both literally and metaphorically - over the rear wheels, the 1960s car is gorgeous. A critic could argue that the 14" wheels limit both the braking options and the ultimate development of the side profile, but the optional Borranis deceive the eye and look fantastic.

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We picked the Ferrari 599 GTB up from Ferrari GB’s base in Slough. The short motorway drive rekindled memories of the Goodwood to Maranello journey undertaken in the car’s launch year, 2006. This isn’t a road test... but I am still totally convinced that this is the finest performance car money can buy right now. Period, no questions, end of story and don’t ask me again please - it’s the best and well worth the two-year wait.

The 5999cc engine of the 599 GTB produces a massive 620bhp (103bhp/litre, note) even with its modern emissions equipment; more than a long-distance racer of the 275’s era could muster but, like-for-like, not so far removed from the older car.

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From a technical viewpoint, the two cars’ similarities run deeper than their navy paintwork. Both have had considerable input from Ferrari’s racing department and while in the 275 GTB/4 this would mainly be in the form of long-distance and GT expertise, in the 599 GTB it is Formula 1 developments like the super-quick gearchange, electronic differential and CCM (carbon composite material) brakes.

In fact, the front discs on the newer car, at 398mm, are actually bigger in diameter than the wheels of the 275 GTB. That makes you think, and such is progress. The 275 pioneered the use of a ‘torque tube’, a rigid case that joins engine to gearbox, carrying the rotating propshaft and also featuring on the 599. Aerodynamics on the earlier car are limited to old-school principles of a penetrative nose and Kamm tail, but it does carry an upswept boot spoiler - a legacy of GTO racing experience.

The 599 GTB? Well, think state-of-the-Art (and the capital ‘A’ is deliberate).

Blue on Blue Blue on Blue

Setting the cars up for photography and the running lineage of classic Ferrari Berlinetta becomes ever more apparent. The delicately fine crease on the top of the front wings. The broad power-bulge on the bonnet (introduced for the four-cam 275), and the domed roofline covering intimate, yet airy, cabins. Both cars carry the familiar ‘egg-crate’ grille yet the newer has a prancing horse in the centre, the older simply a yellow and black badge on the bonnet.

At the rear, the 599 GTB has a more rounded treatment, relying on venturis venting underneath the boot, and the sail-planes directing air around the rear screen. The 275’s tail treatment is straight from the Mulsanne; the rear panel and spoiler seemingly lifted directly from a 250 LM.

They are both magical cars, summed up by ex-Maranello Concessionaires racing driver and Ferrari salesman of the time, Michael Salmon. "It’s quite simple," he once said, "the true Ferrari is a front-engined, 12-cylinder, two-seat coupé."

New or old, take your pick - you couldn’t go wrong with either.

Text: Steve Wakefield
Photos: Simon Mein - all Strictly Copyright

The 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 will be sold at the RM Auctions, in association with Sotheby’s, auction at Maranello on May 18. It carries an estimate of 816,000 - 1,020,000 euros (approximately £652,800 - 816,000, or $1,305,600 - 1,632,000).

The Ferrari 599 GTB as tested costs £214,569, and was finished in
Blu Scozia (from the 50s - 60s classic paint colour range). The interior colour was Cuoio, with Nuovo Cuoio carpets.

Optional extras included:
Seat backs in leather; Rear parking sensors; Aluminium brake calipers; 20" Challenge-style wheel rims; Carbo-ceramic braking system; Leather roof lining; Daytona-style seats; Rear shelf in leather; iPod connectivity; Bose Hi-Fi; Dash and tunnel in leather; Electrochromic rear view mirror; Navigation system; Passenger airbag off kit.

With grateful thanks to the owner of the magnificent Palladian house and grounds.

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