Built from 1968 to 1973, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 regularly trades hands for over half a million dollars. Auction house RM Sotheby’s is offering one that could sell for considerably more: It’s the first 364 GTB/4 prototype built by Ferrari, and it stands out with several specific features.
You don’t need to be a Ferrari expert to tell that chassis number 10287 isn’t a run-of-the-mill GTB/4. Built in 1967 but titled as a 1969 model, it’s characterized by a more classic-looking front end with two round headlights, small rectangular turn signals integrated into a two-part bumper, and an oval grille. In comparison, the series-produced model (which is also known as the Daytona) featured four round headlights that either popped up or were covered by a glass panel, bigger turn signals that wrapped around the front end, and a smaller grille.
Out back, the prototype wears three round lights that are smaller than the two units on the production model, and it’s fitted with a shorter trunk lid as well as a single-piece bumper. The coupe’s proportions didn’t change as it shifted from the design studio to the showroom floor.
Power comes from a 4.4-liter V12 that slurps fuel from six Weber carburetors. Called Tipo 243 internally, it’s different from the engine found in the series-produced model: Its block is related to the 330 GT’s, its heads are fitted with three valves per cylinder instead of four, and it features a dual ignition system, twin spark plugs, as well as a dry oil sump. The engine is linked to a five-speed manual transmission.
Carmakers often crush early prototypes, and chassis number 10287 is the first of six built, so how did it survive? RM Sotheby’s notes that the coupe’s history has been thoroughly documented (and it’s as fascinating as you’d expect). It was built in early 1967, tested by the factory, and sold by a Ferrari dealer in Rome on May 8, 1968. The auction house points out that, at that point, the 365 GTB/4 hadn’t been unveiled yet — imagine buying a 2024 Toyota Tacoma prototype or any vehicle whatsoever approximately half a year before the regular-production model lands in showrooms.
Its first owner was an Italian industrialist named Count Vincenzo Balestrieri. He reportedly knew Enzo Ferrari, who offered to loan him the prototype while he waited to take delivery of a 365 GTS/4 (the convertible variant of the 365 GTB/4). He held up his end of the deal and returned the coupe when his roadster arrived, and the prototype subsequently went through several owners in Italy before headed to the United States in 1972. It made its way back to Europe in 1989 and was later treated to a full restoration by Dutch Ferrari specialists.
Ferrari Classiche certified the car’s originality after the restoration was completed, and the company displayed the prototype in its official museum from February 2015 to March 2016. RM Sotheby’s adds that the sale includes a tool kit, available service records, a file of photos and papers documenting the restoration, and the awards that the car has won at various events. The company hasn’t provided a pre-auction estimate, but the car’s significance and rarity should send bidding far above $1 million. In contrast, RM Sotheby’s sold the only street-legal 365 GTB/4 built with an aluminum body for $2.2 million in 2017 — and that was a non-running car parked in a garage for over 40 years.
If there’s a prototype-sized hole in your garage, bidding starts on May 22 at 5 p.m. British time. That’s 6 p.m. European time, noon in New York, and 9 a.m. in California. The auction will close on May 26 at 5 p.m. British time, unless a bidding war sends it into overtime.