Ferrari 330 P4

Posted on Petrolicous

As much as any other car, the Ferrari 330 P4 is the embodiment and culmination of an entire era of racing. With its low-slung stance and voluptuous lines, it is also among the most visually stunning cars ever produced. Combine these factors and the word “icon” slips to the tip of one’s tongue.

Still smarting from losing the Constructor’s International Sports Prototype Championship to Ford in 1965 and 1966—and, in 1966, watching a trio of Ford GT40s finish 1-2-3 at Le Mans—Enzo Ferrari turned to his chief engineer, Mauro Forghieri, with a simple instruction: win. In world then dominated by Carroll Shelby and Ford’s formidable 7-liter engines, this would be no easy undertaking.

What resulted from Forghieri’s mandate was the 330 P4, arguably the greatest Ferrari endurance race car of all time. Based on the 330 P3—and almost identical cosmetically—the 330 P4 represented a significant mechanical upgrade from anything Ferrari had run previously and, in 1967, it would return Ferrari to the pinnacle of sports prototype racing.

The highlight of the 1967 season came at the 24 Hours of Daytona, a race that would come to be known as The Revenge of Il Commendatore. Led by Chris Amon and Lorenzo Bandini in a 330 P4 (and trailed by Mike Parkes and Ludovico Scarfiotti in another 330 P4), Ferrari finished 1-2-3 at the hallowed Florida circuit. Soon thereafter, a pair of P4s finished 1-2 at Monza, and while Ford again won at Le Mans, P4s finished second and third and Ferrari was once again in possession of the sports prototype title.

Rules changes concerning engine displacement spelled the end of the 330 P4s in European racing, but by that time, the car had cemented its place in the pantheon of endurance racing.


Bonus Video: The Ferrari 312PB

Posted on Petrolicous

The Ferrari 312PB (officially known as the 312P, but appended with the ‘B’ by the media to differentiate it from the ’69 312P) marked the end of an era. It was Ferrari’s last new car developed specifically for sports prototype racing. In the hands of drivers like Mr. Mario Andretti it was a world-beater helping to cement his reputation. The thing is, that as great a racer as he was, other Scuderia Ferrari drivers were similarly successful with the Group 5 car. Drivers Brian Redman and Arturo Merzario each drove the car and combined to win three of the eleven races of the 1972 championship-winning season, a season that saw Ferrari win every race except the 24 Hours of Le Mans (which they sat out due to reliability questions related to the Formula One-derived twelve cylinder).

And reliability issues were the one concern that truly worried Mr. Steven Read before acquiring this endurance legend. He wanted to take it vintage racing but every photo of the 312PB that he found featured about twenty mechanics working on the car simultaneously while it was in the pits. Obviously such an extensive endeavor would have been prohibitive. Perhaps it was the Formula One-based cockpit that attracted him, or the fact that this was one of the last Ferrari sports prototypes of the golden age of racing. Or maybe the 312PB’s racing pedigree, including races at Brands Hatch, Daytona, Nurburgring, and Watkins Glen and the fact that it can pull multiple Gs through corners and keep you motionless in the seat with your hands right where they need to be that convinced him it might be worthwhile. All of these factors probably contributed, but let’s be honest, it had to be that sound!

The Ferrari 312PB is special for another reason too: it was Ferrari’s last sports prototype before they exited sports car racing to focus their efforts solely on Formula One. They put the exclamation point on a long and storied history by winning the championship.

Thanks, Tom

4 Comments
  1. John M. Mellberg

    Gary,
    Breathlessly speechless! Wow! There isn’t a living designer who doesn’t love the 330 P4 for its aesthetic beauty, engineering genius and performance history that makes it one of the ‘greatest’ cars of all time. Thanks so much for sharing this and the 312PB videos. Still inspiring and wonderful!

    John M. Mellberg
    Automotive Designers Guild

  2. Clark LIncoln

    As a racer (strictly amateur ) I can appreciate all that he says about this car from a drivers perspective. I’ve never driven a race car that met all those standards but then I’ve never driven a Ferrari… So someone remind me who penned this P3/4 body – it truly is magnificent. Thanks for posting it, Gary.

    Clark Lincoln
    GM Design, Retired

  3. Roy Lonberger

    Many thanks Gary for posting the two videos. Love the cars.

    Roy

  4. David R.North

    Inspired to buy a race car! Great places to drive here in
    Montana.

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