Ferrari 312T

Ferrari 312T 1970s Italian F1 car

The 312T won the ’75 F1 World Championship. Ferrari were cock-a-hoop. It had been eleven long years since the last one. Having the great Niki Lauda as driver helped, of course. But, Lauda would have been first to acknowledge the contribution of a fellow member of the Ferrari team. Namely, Mauro Forghieri – who designed the 312T’s engine.

The Ferrari flat-12’s motor had slimmer bores than those of the V-configured layouts of other teams. That allowed them to rev higher. Increased engine speeds meant more horsepower. It also meant more fuel consumption – so the 312T hit the grid heavier than its rivals. Thus, it fell to Ferrari’s strategists to erase that handicap as the race wore on. They obviously made a good fist of it. Lauda won three consecutive races – 5, 6 and 7 – in Monaco, Belgium and Sweden. He had added two more by season’s end. Deservedly, then, he took his first World Championship. Small wonder he described it as ‘the unbelievable year’! To be fair to their competitors – not least, Brabham – Ferrari’s car was head and shoulders above the rest.

Engine man Mauro Forghieri’s masterstroke was his positioning of the 312T’s gearbox. The horizontally-opposed flat-12 set-up meant the motor’s mass sat lower. The result was better handling. Still a bit twitchy – but a big improvement on the Ferrari 312B3’s understeer. Forghieri took weight distribution a step further. By placing the gearbox behind the engine, mass was not just lowered – but more centralised, too. The 312T now manoeuvred as well as it moved. At the start of the ’76 season, the 312T was to win another three back-to-back GPs. But, ’75 had been the car’s finest hour. Niki Lauda – alongside team-mate Clay Regazzoni – had done the Tifosi proud. The Scuderia Ferrari fanatics had seen their team restored to the upper echelon of world motorsport. So, on top of being one of the most iconic race cars ever built, the 312T was a terrific all-round package. As such – in terms of technology – Ferrari pointed the way to the fully-integrated future of F1.

Ferrari 250 GTO

 

The Ferrari 250 GTO was about as focused a car as has ever been built. Designed by Giotto Bizzarrini, everything about it was geared to speed. Its cabin, for instance, was conspicuously spartan. The GTO – Gran Turismo Omologato – was made to win races, not comfort contests! Specifically, races in the World Sportscar Championship. The Ferrari 250 GT had been struggling in said series – mainly on account of poor aerodynamics. Which is where Bizzarrini came in. His brief was to draft a more slippery shape. One that could deliver more than 150mph, at any rate … which was what the GT was currently mustering. Bizzarrini went to work. The grille was made smaller. The headlights were faired in. A foreshortened rear end now sported a spoiler. Ferrari were pleased. The GTO’s top speed was clocked at 173mph.

But, Bizzarrini’s bodywork was just for starters. The GTO had other weapons in its race armoury. Like a 3.0-litre Tipo 168/62 Colombo V12. The 300bhp it produced took the Ferrari from 0-60mph in 6.1s. That called for a stiff chassis. An alloy-tubed frame was duly installed. The aluminium V12 engine was suckled by six twin-barrel Webers. Because it was dry sump, the motor sat lower – as did the rest of the car. More grist to the aerodynamics mill. A 5-speed gearbox turned the rear wheels. Only suspension let the side down a tad – being somewhat outdated. Saying that, it clearly did not hamper the whole package too much. In ’62, the GTO won the World Sportscar Championship. And again, in ’63 and ’64. At Le Mans, in ’62, while it came second in the overall standings, it took the coveted Group 3 GT class.

Bizzarrini also took care that the GTO’s styling was suitably seductive. As well as being one of the all-time great racers, as a roadster its low-down looks were sublime. Ferrari played a bit fast and loose with the facts, however … in true motorsport tradition! They passed the GTO off as just a streamlined GT. That got them off the hook, homologation-wise. Otherwise, they would have had to build 100 GTOs, to go racing. As it was, only 39 were built. In truth, though, the new car was unique. While the GTO – and its GT forebear – did indeed share many components, there was enough that was fresh about the GTO to set it apart. It certainly was a streamlined GT – Bizzarrini’s wind-cheating wizardry had seen to that. But – should there be any doubt that the GTO was special – a price comparison is telling. When Ferrari produced the car – between ’62 and ’64 – it cost £6,000. In 2014 – at Bonhams Quail Lodge auction – one sold for £22,843,633. Which made it the most expensive car ever, at the time. The Ferrari 250 GTO was a one-off, all right!

%%footer%%