Chinetti Conundrum

There’s more to the NART Spyder story than the ten famous 275 GTS/4s; this 365 is another, little-known chapter.

October 17, 2013
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At the end of the 1960s, Ferrari manufactured roughly 168 examples of the 365 GTC, the grand touring coupe being a mechanically upgraded and cosmetically almost-unaltered version of the preceding 330 GTC. The company also built a Spyder version of the model that was produced in far fewer numbers; just 20 such 365 GTSs rolled out of Maranello.

As keen-eyed readers will note, our featured 365 is not one of those 20. Its dimensions and proportions are familiar, but oddly foreign. We’ve seen the badges and design features before, but never in such a combination. To the well-versed vintage Ferrari connoisseur, Harry Gibson’s 1969 365 GT NART Spider (s/n 12181) defies categorization and begs questions—and then invites fascination.

As the nomenclature implies, this Ferrari’s most significant feature may be the yellow badge on its tail, which suggests the undeniable cachet of being connected to Luigi Chinetti’s famed North American Racing Team. But while the history books are rife with tales of the ten factory-built 275 GTB/4-based NART Spyders, and a few recount Chinetti’s conversion of three 365 GTB/4s into Michelotti-bodied Spyders during the mid-1970s, one would be hard-pressed to locate any history that mentions a NART car built on a 365 GTC platform.

To answer the mystery, Gibson proudly keeps a laminated copy of an original letter written by Luigi Chinetti, Jr. in 1987. In describing the car’s design brief and purpose, Chinetti, Jr. writes, “The 365 NART Spider project began “in the early seventies,” and chassis number 12181 “was purchased and studied in an attempt to incorporate many of the body modifications Pininfarina have [sic] used till that time.”

“I always wanted to make a [365 GTS] Spider differently from what you saw coming out of the factory,” Chinetti, Jr. said in a recent interview. “The car was fun to do because of the look. It came out really nicely, especially the front, which is exactly what they [the Ferrari factory] should have done, themselves, for the convertible.”

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