Ferrari: McQueen machine back to the factory

By Alastair Sloane

The Ferrari 275 GTB4 coupe owned by Steve McQueen before it was converted to a Spider. Photo / Supplied
The Ferrari 275 GTB4 coupe owned by Steve McQueen before it was converted to a Spider. Photo / Supplied

One of the more celebrated models in Ferrari history has returned to the factory to be rebuilt by the company's restoration department, Ferrari Classiche.

The 275 GTB4 coupe was once owned by Hollywood's "king of cool", Steve McQueen. He bought the car in San Francisco in the late 1960s while filming the chase scene in the movie Bullitt.

It was sold after his death in 1980 and converted in the United States to a soft-top Spider. It was bought and sold again and now the present American owner has shipped it to Ferrari headquarters to have it restored as a coupe under the carmaker's authenticity certification process.

A Ferrari can only be authenticated if it is rebuilt exactly to the specifications it had when it left the factory.

Ferrari Classiche will reproduce the roof and buttresses with hand-beaten steel panels that match the original design.

Classic Ferraris continue to be in demand - a 250 GTO built for Stirling Moss in 1962 has sold for US$35 million ($45 million).

US car collector Craig McCaw bought it from Dutch businessman Eric Heerema. McCaw was co-founder of McCaw Cellular that was bought by US communication giant AT&T for US$11.5 billion in 1993.

Heerema is the owner of Nyetimber vineyard in Sussex, England. He reportedly bought the 250 GTO for around US$13 million 10 years ago.

The world record price comes 50 years after the launch of the homologation special (hence the designation Gran Turismo Omologata), of which just 36 were built.

The price eclipses the US$32 million paid for a 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO in February and the US$34 million forked out by Los Angeles museum owner Peter Mullin for a 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic in 2010.

Moss' 250 GTO (chassis number 3505GT) was painted in the pale green colour of his UDT-Laystall race team - but a career-ending crash in April 1962 meant he never got to race the car.

Innes Ireland drove it in the 1962 Le Mans 24-hour race but didn't finish. Soon after, Ireland drove it to win the 100-lap Tourist Trophy at Goodwood.

The win helped Ferrari secure the 1962 GT manufacturer's title. It won again in 1963 and 1964.

The 250 GTO has been revered in classic car circles for decades for its combination of thoroughbred looks, performance and motor sports heritage.

In 1990, a 1962 GTO set a record auction price of US$10.7 million. This stood for 18 years until beaten in 2008 by another Ferrari, a 1961 250 California that sold for US$10.9 million. It was eclipsed in 2011 when a 1957 250 Testa Rossa fetched US$16.3 million.

Set up in 2006, Ferrari Classiche has processed more than 3300 certification requests using the company's archive records and original designs. The process is available to Australian and New Zealand owners.

- NZ Herald

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