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1961 Ferrari 250 GT N.A.R.T. Spider by Fantuzzi

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1961 Ferrari 250 GT N.A.R.T. Spider by Fantuzzi
Sold for $1,017,500 Including Commission
RM Auction, Monterey, CA. 2014
Chassis no. 2235 GT
Engine no. 2235 GT
300 bhp, 2,953 cc SOHC V-12 engine with six Weber 38 DCN carburetors, five-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with unequal length A-arms and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and parallel trailing arms, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 102.3 in.
Rebodied by Fantuzzi in 1965 for Luigi Chinetti
Shown at the San Francisco, Miami, and New York auto shows in 1965 and 1966
A little-known progenitor of the N.A.R.T. Spider lineage
Owned by the consignor for 35 years
Well-documented and featured in Prancing Horse issue number 123
Class winner at the 2014 Cavallino Classic
Although Luigi Chinetti is known for his role in introducing Ferrari to the United States as the marque’s first continental importer, as well as for his racing accomplishments during the Scuderia’s formative years, the famed entrepreneur may be best appreciated for his North American Racing Team. The esteemed N.A.R.T. badge went on to decorate several desirable Ferrari sports cars of the ’60s and ’70s, resulting in period race winners and some of today’s most desirable Ferraris.
Sometimes lost in this acclaim is the fact that Chinetti had a central role in the design of many of his most famous cars. Over the course of several decades, the importer and his son, Luigi “Coco” Chinetti Jr., gradually crafted a discernable lineage of modified one-off, or limited-edition, Ferraris based on their open-top design briefs and individual sketches. Of course, the most famous of these cars were the 275 GTB/4 N.A.R.T. Spiders, with such examples triumphantly winning at Sebring in 1967, starring in The Thomas Crown Affair, and stunning the collector-car world a year ago, in 2014, with a world-record sale.
Although the ten 275 GTB/4 Spiders are the best-known examples of Chinetti’s open-top Maranello conversions, the N.A.R.T. Spider motif can be traced to several one-off show cars of the mid-1960s, and they later extended to conversions of 330 GTC and 365 GTC/4 examples.
Chassis number 2235 GT began life anonymously enough as the 28th first-series 250 GT 2+2, an example of the long-wheelbase four-seat grand tourer that debuted in late 1960. The model, also known as the GTE, for its Tipo 508E chassis, was further esteemed for the Tipo 128E engine’s Testarossa-style outside-plug layout. This GTE, finished in green paint over a black interior, completed assembly on January 13, 1961, and was subsequently sold to Luigi Chinetti Motors.
The GTE was originally intended for sale to a customer in Buenos Aires, one Miguel Carcano, but it is unknown if it was ever delivered to him. After being damaged in a minor accident in 1964, this Grand Tourer was re-purposed by Chinetti and his son. As Coco Chinetti explained to writer Marc Sonnery in a feature article from Prancing Horse issue number123, published in 1997, “We initially ordered the car for ourselves, drove it quite a bit, and kept it for some months. It was a great car: light, beautiful.”
In 1965, Chinetti shipped the car to Italy for new coachwork in Coco’s design and to be built by Carrozzeria Fantuzzi. Bringing Chinetti’s sketch to life, the coachbuilder rounded out a small-mouthed slant nose and fitted it with covered headlamps and bumperettes, which lead to GTO-style fender gills. A new raked windscreen was installed and fitted with wind wings, and a hollow aluminum basket-handle roll-hoop was shaped in the style of Ferrari’s 250 P race car.
In a video later produced by Motorweek’s David Scrivener, Chinetti Jr. reminisced, “This wasn’t really a styling exercise…it was to make a racing-inspired car for the road. It really went from a sketch to a car just the way they used to do it. I miss those days, because you could literally take your pencil and draw it and have it built. What a luxury! [It] reflects a bygone era that is still sort of a heartthrob.”
The new N.A.R.T. Spider was finished in silver and completed in the autumn of 1965. Afterwards, it was shipped to San Francisco for the eighth annual Import Car Show at Brooks Hall in November, a period show conceived by independent San Francisco auto importers, including the well-known Kjell Qvale. Following its West Coast debut, the Fantuzzi Spider made appearances at the Miami Auto Show and the New York International Automobile Show in April 1966, where it was seen by a fascinated teenager named David Berger. He would eventually become a central figure in the car’s story.
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