1967 Ferrari 275275 GTB/4
Year of manufacture1967
- Originally owned by the King of Cool himself, the legendary actor and car enthusiast Steve McQueen
- Restored to McQueen’s specifications from 2010 to 2013 by Ferrari Classiche, under the ownership of championship racing driver Vern Schuppan
- Certified with a Ferrari Classiche Red Book; retains numbers-matching engine and gearbox
- Documented with factory build sheet, period correspondence from Steve McQueen, and history report by marque expert Marcel Massini
- The subject of numerous feature magazine articles
- Desirable late-production example built with long-nose body configuration, 4-cam valve actuation, dry sump lubrication, and torque tube setup
- Exhibited in Maranello’s Museo Ferrari and at the Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza
A veritable titan in the realms of both cinema and automotive culture, the legendary actor Steve McQueen hardly requires an introduction, but his unique position as a car-loving popular icon is worth reviewing. A forerunner of today’s tough-guy A-list leading men, McQueen was that rare actor who often played himself. This was not a classically trained thespian pretending to love fast cars, faster women, and the scent of danger, but rather the opposite—a real-life man of action who happened to be able to act.
From the brilliant motorcycling of The Great Escape, to the legendary Charger-vs-Mustang chase through San Francisco in Bullitt, through the unparalleled high-speed duels of Le Mans, to his screams of “Punch it, baby!” in Sam Peckinpah’s unforgettably gritty The Getaway, McQueen forged an identity as one of cinema’s most genuine car enthusiasts, all while pairing up with a parade of Hollywood’s most scintillating actresses, including Jaqueline Bisset, Faye Dunaway, and Ali MacGraw. Tough, charming, physically electrifying, and ruggedly handsome, the onetime Marine quickly evolved into an inspiration for the men of his generation and beyond, perhaps none so much as his fellow automotive enthusiasts.
McQueen’s true passion was the hard driving of visceral speed machines, from luxury sports cars and motorcycles to racecars. His garage variously featured such gems as a Jaguar XKSS and four different Ferraris, including one of the uber-rare 275 GTS/4 NART Spiders. The featured lot, chassis number 10621, was one of these Prancing Horses, and its story is actually rooted in the fate of the NART Spider, in which McQueen was reportedly rear-ended while waiting at a stoplight in Malibu. Understandably not content to be patient with what would have been time-consuming body repairs, McQueen instead chose to purchase this 275 GTB/4 berlinetta to replace the NART Spider.
Chassis number 10621 had completed assembly in late 1967, originally finished in Nocciola (hazelnut) paint over a Nero leather interior. Distributed to William Harrah’s Modern Classic Motors via Luigi Chinetti, the 275 was purchased by McQueen through Chic Vandagriff’s well-known Hollywood Sport Cars in December 1967. The actor immediately dispatched the berlinetta to his car guru, Lee Brown, for a repaint. In addition to owning a popular garage, Brown is generally credited with performing the modifications of the legendary Ford Mustang GT 390 used in Bullitt.
Brown refinished the coachwork in a unique shade of dark maroon that he had formulated and dubbed Chianti Red, and at McQueen’s request he fitted two elements that were successfully removed from the damaged NART Spider: The Borrani wire wheels and the aerodynamically slippery sideview mirror mounted on the driver-side fender. According to the car’s lore McQueen used this 275 to commute to the set of Bullitt, with one photo depicting him dressed as the troubled detective while standing next to the pristine Ferrari. In 1971 the King of Cool sold the Ferrari to fellow actor Guy Williams, who is best remembered for his roles in the film Zorro and the popular television series Lost in Space.
By 1976 the GTB/4 was owned by J.P. Hyan, a Los Angeles police officer who was the son of the founder of Genuine Foods. Following a collision, the berlinetta was sold in a damaged state in 1980 to Robert Panella, the principal of a trucking company based in Stockton, California. Panella was actually more interested in owning a NART Spider, but because of prohibitive availability and cost he instead elected to have 10621 converted, a modification he entrusted to Robert Straman of Costa Mesa.
Mr. Panella retained possession of the Ferrari for over 17 years before selling the car in February 1997 to Eric Zausner of San Francisco, and from him the car passed four years later to the English banker and noted collector Andrew Pisker. In 2009 Mr. Pisker sold the 275 to the Australian collector Peter Harburg, and he in turn sold the berlinetta to a fellow countryman, the famed ex-Porsche factory driver and 1983 Le Mans winner Vern Schuppan.
Mr. Schuppan decided the Ferrari should rightfully be returned to its original berlinetta coachwork configuration, and he quickly set about a thorough restoration. According to a 2014 feature article in Forza magazine by the well-known former Motor Trend editor and McQueen historian Matt Stone, Schuppan was able to track down and acquire a majority of the components that were removed during the spider conversion. The parts and the car were then delivered to Ferrari Classiche for a complete restoration (and subsequent certification), during which the roof was painstakingly rebuilt by the expert craftsmen of Bacchelli & Villa. In honor of McQueen’s association with the 275, the berlinetta was dutifully refinished in his customized livery, Chianti Red paint over black leather seats. Furthermore, to restore the car to correct McQueen specification, it was fitted with wire wheels and the unique side mirror.
The restored GTB/4 then debuted at a cinema-focused exhibit at Ferrari’s museum in Maranello, where it remained on display through October 2013. Offered by Schuppan at RM Auctions’ flagship sale at Monterey, California, in August 2014, the 275 was acquired by the British collector David Moores, whose estate is currently offering the car. In 2016 Mr. Moores presented the berlinetta at the Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza, a demonstration of how the car’s unique celebrity provenance qualifies it for some of the world’s most prestigious events.
The subject of feature articles in the magazines Classic & Sports Car, Auto Italia, and Forza, chassis number 10621 continues to present with top-shelf elegance and mechanical correctness. Fully certified with a Ferrari Classiche Red Book, the exquisite 275 tantalizes the imagination with its splendid McQueen associations. One can easily picture the dapper actor in a characteristic turtleneck and sport coat, casually punching the accelerator out of turns while summoning the legendary symphony of the four-cam V-12.
Ideal for presentation at major concours d’elegance, marque gatherings, or movie-related exhibits worldwide, this unique 275 GTB/4 invites its next caretaker to revel in the provenance of the original owner, one of Hollywood’s most legendary leading men and one of its most ardent automotive enthusiasts—the unmatched Steve McQueen.
Please note that an import duty of 2.5% of the purchase price is payable on this lot if the buyer is a resident of the United States.
To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/mo23.