The Ferrari 275 GTB4 is a true Maranello icon and none more so than the car belonging to legendary American star Steve McQueen, who took delivery of the car in San Francisco when he was on the set filming Bullitt.
One of the coolest men to ever walk the planet, the star of ‘LeMans’ had a real love for Ferrari’s and bought his 275 GTB4 after his previous Ferrari, a 275 GTB NART Spider got almost totaled driving down Pacific Coast Highway when a truck decided to park into it’s rear . McQueen didn;t hesitate but went and ordered himself a new Ferrari, the 275GTB4.
McQueen purchased his new Ferrari at the height of his career—the year he shot Bullitt and The Thomas Crown Affair, choosing to have his new Italian stallion painted a special colour he called Chianti Red.
The 275 was introduced in 1964, and brought with it Ferrari’s first transaxle and all-round independent suspension. Two years later, an update introduced a steadying torque tube and a longer nose to prevent high-speed lift. Then came the 300bhp four-cam, for which the transaxle was redesigned and the dry-sump 3286cc V12 was given a reduced valve angle of 54º (from 60) and a sextet of Webers as standard.
The 275GTB4 produced 300 bhp, with 3,286 cc dual-overhead-camshaft-per-bank from it’s Colombo V-12 engine, the 275 could hit 160mph. With it’s Pininfarina sculted long-nose/short tail styling, it couldn’t be any more Italian. A ‘standard’ factory 275 had Campagnolo alloys, but McQueen had Borrani wire wheels from his 275 GTB NART Spider fitted instead.
Although McQueen never did, the 275GTB4 was a proper continental crossing GT, with a boot big enough for a couple of cases. The Ferrari cabin feels like a place you could easily and comfortably cruise across continents, now what a film that would have been.
A V12 it might have been but the 275GTB4 also handled pretty well, one review stating “Hit the tightest horseshoe corner at a decent lick and it can become hard work to keep that long nose tucked in but, as the car starts to wash away across the track, you can bring it back into line using the responsive foot-long — but barely more than an inch wide — organ throttle. Just be careful not to hit a bump mid-corner or it really will spit you out.”
McQueen’s Ferrari 275 GTB4 never made it into a movie but none the less he did own it for five years. It was subsequently owned by TV star Guy Williams, of Zorro and Lost in Space fame, and the car has since been restored by Ferrari Classiche to McQueen’s original specification; Classiche certified in the autumn of 2013, with its history confirmed by Ferrari, the car was also proudly displayed by the Maranello company in its own museum exhibit, From Cinecittà to Hollywood.