There was a time when a Ferrari collection began with a Dino or a Daytona and over time a 330 GTC or a 365 GTC/4 would be added. A well-heeled collector might later add a 250 Lusso or a 250 Cab and, if economic fortune smiled, perhaps a 250 SWB or a 250 California spider. Enzo-era Ferraris were affordable by mere mortals, purchased by roofing or drywall contractors, body shop owners, doctors and lawyers. If the enthusiast was lucky enough to be based in Southern California there was no lack of weekend shows and track events where these cars could be shown, shared and tracked. Dozens of Enzo-era Ferraris would share track time at Riverside or Willow Springs raceway or race up the mountainside at Virginia City! Those days are a nostalgic but distant memory.
Times change and as the Enzo-era enthusiasts, the baby boomers, leave the market, a new and younger group of buyer’s lust after a newer era of supercars. Today’s collector often has a business that didn’t exist only twenty years ago. Perhaps they have developed an App, a software program or were an early-hire programmer at the right hi-tech company. In college they dreamt of F40s, F50s or Enzos. A decade or so ago they started with the latest-greatest road car, a 599 or a 458 and then added the cars of their dreams, usually starting with an F40 and then a 288 GTO, an F50, an Enzo and eventually a LaFerrari. The obligatory California T followed by a new 812 Superfast would keep his local authorized Ferrari dealer happy and guarantee the latest and greatest Ferraris kept coming for early delivery.
Today the cars are ever newer; the attendees are ever younger; the grey-haired-crowd gets ever smaller and events are planned and marketed on social media. In a world of 200 mph plus supercars that can never be used anywhere near their full potential, weekend gatherings are billed as Supercar Sundays, with the owner’s sharing their event experiences on social media! But what does a well-heeled collector do in a world with rows of near identical Aventadors and Astons, Bentley GTs and Bugattis’, ZR1 Corvettes, Ferraris 488s and F12s, MBZ AMGs and Porsche Turbos and GT3s, all differentiated only by ever-changing wraps and their list of obligatory option? What could be more collectable, outrageous and unique than a Ferrari F1 car?
Over the last four decades we’ve sold dozens of F1 cars but in only the last year the Ferrari F1 market has surged, we had six clients who we helped to add a Ferrari F1 car to their collection. Of the six Ferrari F1 cars we sold in 2018, one will be used in the F1 Clienti program, the other five are now “Interactive Automotive Art” showpieces exemplifying the ultimate in automotive technology of their time, as investment potential and, bluntly, as bragging rights. All have been “modern” F1 cars, from the first 1980 126C F1Turbo car up to the 2007 Kimi Raikkonen Championship winning car.
This column is the first in a series to attempt to detail the history and evolution of the modern-era of Ferrari F1 cars and their (mostly English) competitors. Most race fans remember the winning drivers; some remember the demanding team managers, brilliant engineers and innovative aero dynamists. All worked together at a frantic pace against unrelenting competition, funded by an expanding explosion in sponsorship and technology that only one team, one driver and one car can win.
By the early 1960s many GT cars and almost all prototypes were faster than F1’s then-anemic 1.5 liter cars and so the FIA wanted to improve the show. The modern-era of F1 cars began in 1966 with the switch to 3.0 liter cars, although slicks and wings were not yet on anyone’s radar. For the 1966 season Ferrari used both a hot-rodded 3.0 liter 275 engine fitted with 4-cam (but 2-valve) heads and Lucas fuel injection with a claimed 360 hp and, at four races, a 2.4 liter V6 for drivers John Surtess and Lorenzo Bandini. While Ferraris 3.0 liter V-12 should have been the dominant power plant, the V12 was heavy, the 2.4 V6 was both underpowered and undersized, and the 312/66 was well over 50kg overweight. Ferrari driver John Surtess was a championship contender, leading the first race until his V12 failed at Monaco, followed by a win in appalling conditions at the second race in Belgium. Surtess quit the Ferrari team after a disagreement with team manager Eugenio Dragoni at the 24 hours of Le Mans, a decision that likely cost both Ferrari and Surtess the 1966 Formula 1 Championship. Surtess was replaced by fellow Brit Mike Parkes who would drive a long chassis 312/66 to accommodate his 6’4” height, but Parkes broke his legs in a crash at the Belgian GP. In 1966 only a driver’s five best results from the nine race season counted towards the Championship, which went to Australian Jack Brabham in a car of his own manufacture. Braham’s reliability came from the well-proven Repco V8, with a modest 310 hp, which put minimal strain on a fragile chassis, suspension and brakes. At a time when racing was a dangerous endeavor and F1 a deadly game, privateer Brabham driver John Taylor died after a crash at the German GP at the Nürburgring. He would not be the last. Because of the driver changes, Ferrari finished 2nd in the Constructors’ Championship. Only three 1966 312s were built, s/n 0010, 0011 and 0012. Only s/n 0010 survives as s/n 0011was given to Pininfarina and became the Sigma Showcar, and the long chassis s/n 0012 was destroyed by Parkes in the Belgium GP. 312/66 s/n 0010, the 1966 Belgium winner, was owned by John Surtess for many years but is now owned by Bernie Ecclestone.
For the 1967 season Ferrari fired team manager Dragoni and replaced him with Franco Lini. New 4-cam, 3-valve cylinder heads, topped off with beautiful ‘spaghetti’ exhausts inside the engine’s “V”, gave 390 hp at 10,000 rpm and the 1967 chassis lost over 50 kg, considerably closer to the 500 kg limit. Because of numerous accidents the Scuderia was forced to have an ever-changing list of drivers. Chris Amon crashed his road car on the way to Brands Hatch for the pre-season F1 Race of Champions, forcing him to withdraw. Bandini died following a crash at the 1967 Monaco GP, Mike Parkes had broken both his legs at the Belgian Grand Prix and Ludovico Scarfiotti went into temporary retirement. Amon, therefore, became Ferrari’s only driver for the rest of the season, until joined by Jonathan Williams for the final race in Mexico. Ferrari pilot Chris Amon scored his first podium in his first official Ferrari drive at Monaco and by the end of 1967 his four third place finishes gave him a fifth in the Drivers’ Championship. Unfortunately for Ferrari, Lotus unveiled the new Ford-sponsored Cosworth DFV powered Lotus 49 at the Dutch Grand Prix, a long-term game changer for the English teams. Although Jim Clark won four races in the Lotus 49, the 1967 championship was won by New Zealander Denny Hulme driving the now-obsolete but well-sorted and reliable Repco-Brabham V8. Because of the many driver changes, Ferrari finished a lowly 5th in the Constructors’ Championship. F1’s dance with death continued with privateer Brabham driver, Bob Anderson, killed in a test at Silverstone. 312/67s were built with a new numbering system, s/n 0001, 0003, 005 and 0007. Only 0003 and 0007 survive. S/n 0001 was destroyed by Bandini at Monaco and s/n 0005 was destroyed by Andrea de Adamich at Brands Hatch in 1968.
While it seems incomprehensible today, in the late 1960s drivers wore open face helmets, with Dan Gurney the first driver to wear a full face helmet at the British GP at Brands Hatch in July, 1968 with some driver’s wearing open face helmets as late as 1974. Driver’s also wore thin cotton coveralls that offered zero fire protection and few drivers used seat belts. Indeed, seat belts were not made compulsory until 1972 and the token roll bars often collapsed during rollovers. It was expected that at least one driver would be killed during the season. It wasn’t until the death of Ferrari driver Lorenzo Bandini during the 1967 Monaco GP that roll bars were taken seriously. Had Bandini not suffered the rollover injuries, he may have been able to escape the resulting fire. In the end it was the severe burns that killed him. From that race on, Ferrari F1 cars were fitted with stronger, higher roll bars, a feature eventually copied by the other teams.
For the 1968 season, the 312/68 was further lightened and fitted with a four-valve engine producing 410 bhp, now mounted lower in the chassis, potentially easily able to race with what Enzo dismissed as the many English “assemblatori” or ‘Garagistes’ teams. Ferrari was also the first team to introduce a basic set of wings at the 1968 Belgium GP at Spa in June, 1968. While the Ferraris were fast they were not reliable. The 1968 F1 season was little better for Ferrari drivers Chris Amon, Jacky Ickx, Andrea de Adamich and Derek Bell, although the season did see the introduction of basic wings and spoilers, full face helmets and unrestricted sponsorship! By 1968 the Cosworth DFV at £7,500, mated with a Hewland FG400 gearbox at £420 and a competitive off-the shelf chassis such as the March 701 at £9,000, was available to all teams, creating a £20,000 “ish” kit-car series in which only the most innovative could win. Engine power now easily exceeded tire ability, which drove the use of strutted wing in 1968 in an attempt to get traction. Death remained all too common with Jim Clark, Mike Spence, Jo Schlesser and Ludovico Scarfiotti all killed in various racing accidents in 1968. Jacky Ickx was able to score only a single win and three podium finishes in the Championship while Amon had a podium finish. In frustration both manager Franco Lini and driver Jacky Ickx quit the team. In equal frustration Enzo Ferrari began negotiations to sell half interest in his road car business to Fiat to fund the F1 program. The 1968 Championship was won by Graham Hill in a Cosworth powered Lotus 49. Ferrari finished 4th in the Constructors’ Championship. Three new 312/68s were built for the season using the new numbering system, s/n 0009, 0011 and 0015. Only 0009 and 0015 survive. S/n 0011 was destroyed by Amon in Italy.
On 21 June, 1969 Ferrari sold a major stake in his road car business to Fiat, leaving Enzo in charge of the racing side, while Fiat controlled road car production. For the 1969 season Ferrari used his new-found Fiat funds to completely re-engineer the Scuderia, making 1969 a throwaway season while the team restructured. Ickx had moved to Brabham, so Ferrari campaigned only Chris Amon, who had two new but uncompetitive cars, s/n 0017 and 0019, to choose from. Ferrari’s focus was on the new 312B design, which was tested but proved to be fragile and did not race in 1969. After five DNFs and a single 3rd Amon quit the team mid-season with Pedro Rodriguez brought in for the final races of the season. Amon finished the season in 12th and Ferrari in a dismal 6th. Jackie Stewart won the 1969 Championship in a Cosworth DFV powered Matra MS80. Although safety measures in 1969 were non-existent compared to today’s safety standards, not a single driver was killed in 1969 and some circuits started to have Armco barriers. Only two 312/69s were built, s/n 0017 and 0019, both survive.
The 1966 to 1969 seasons had seen experimentation and evolution, more powerful engines, ever wider tires and primitive aerodynamics. The rock hard Dunlop tires then used had been designed for much heavier GT cars and so the same tires were often used for three, four or five races on the much lighter F1 cars. Diminutive drivers sat in compact, cozy coffins, wrapped in glorified Pirelli or Dunlop inner tubes claiming to be fuel cells, filled with forty plus gallons of race fuel and with a radiator filled with scalding hot coolant hung on the front. In most “shunts” the driver’s feet were first to arrive at the scene of the accident! Seat belts, closed faced helmets and better roll bars made the cars less deadly, but F1 was still a lethal game with death lurking at every fast corner. F1 was a club for wealthy enthusiasts and fearless racers. Long since forgotten teams and amateur drivers would appear for a local race or two with an outdated car and then disappear; twenty different teams and forty different drivers would enter at least one of the nine races in the 1966 season.
In the late 1960 Ferrari competed and won in both the FIA’s Grand Touring and World Sports Car endurance races against formidable factory opposition such as Porsche, Matra and Ford plus independents such as Lola, McLarens and others. These very different series definitely stretched Ferrari up to the early 70s with the 512s, the 312PB and the comp Daytona GT cars. With the exception of McLaren in Formula 5000 and the Can Am series, no other F1 teams had those additional commitments.
With their rock hard, relatively narrow and slippery 15×10 front and 15×12 rear treaded tires; lack of wings, primitive suspensions and what was lots of power (for the 1960s) these are “momentum” cars. Every corner demands carrying maximum entry speed into the corner, setting up the drift and squeezing down the power as smoothly as possible. Too much power too soon in the low and medium speed corners will simply light up the tires. Maintaining speed is everything while never falling off the power/torque curve. If you’re not slightly sideways and balancing on the knife-edge of the throttle through every corner, you’re not going fast!
As one former owner (with decades of racing experience and a recently acquired 312) commented on his first historic race at Monaco “I literally found 10 seconds every time I went out on the track. At the start of the race the car just came to me. I can only describe it as being similar to skiing. Once the car was driven to its potential it felt like it was a part of you. The chassis was quite flexible (yikes!!!) and it could be thrown around with flair. The drive train was extremely reliable”.
The same owner also added: “I am 5 foot nine and did not even come close to fitting in the car…….I reckon the perfect size would be 5 foot 5 and 125 pounds. Ultimately, this was one of the reasons I sold the car”.
Although Ferrari was easily the most established and best funded of the dozens of teams that competed in 1966-1969, Ferrari was continually beaten by the many innovative English ‘Assemblatori’ or ‘Garagiste’ teams, thanks to better luck with drivers, the ever-improving Cosworth DFV engine, management consistency and endless innovations. Only twelve 312 F1 cars were built for the 1966 to 1969 seasons, only seven survive, all in well-established collections. None have changed hands for years and so it’s very difficult to place a value on any of these cars. The 312s can be started with a push of the starter button and can be maintained by any qualified race shop, although they are fiendishly complicated to maintain long term. Everything about an early F1 car IS automotive ART. The shifter, the shape of the body, the cast magnesium suspension uprights, the up-front cradle and more. All are pieces of exceptional fit, finish and beauty. Many owners have said that driving an F1 car gave them a far more emotional experience than they have EVER experienced looking at a piece of art. While any of the 312s are eligible for both the European and US Masters Historic F1 Series, the Goodwood revival and the prestigious Monaco Historic GP and more, there are dozens of period English F1 cars that are far cheaper to buy, much cheaper to actually run, safer and far more competitive in today’s series. Few early 312s ever run in Ferrari’s F1 Clienti program as they would merely be mobile chicanes against the newer-faster cars that run with Clienti and so most are display pieces, exotic automotive art as the centerpieces of private collections. Owning an early 312 requires a serious financial commitment and any of the early 312s would sell in the low-mid seven-figures, or more, if one came to market; ridiculously cheap in a world where an Andy Warhol painting of a torn Campbell’s soup can (one of 32 paintings of soup cans by Warhol) sold for $11.7m in 2006 and would certainly sell for much, much more today! While both 312 F1 Ferraris and Warhol painting are Veblen Goods, the reader can decide which they would choose! Drop us an e-mail if you have a Ferrari F1 car, or indeed any F1 car on your mind.
For an insight into the complex high-dollar world of Art auctions, google and watch the HBO trailer for “The Price of Everything” a documentary which covers the collectors, dealers and auctioneers in today’s money-driven, consumer-based society and the swaps, complex trades and trusts used to defer taxes
Thanks to ever-increasing sponsorship the next decade would feature an explosion of technology. Front wings, wedge shaped tubs, side-pod radiators, overhanging rear wings and other basic aerodynamics, much more reliable Cosworth DFVs, slicks with various compounds, semi-monocoque construction, structural fuel tanks, much better chassis setups and more would all be F1 game changers. Thanks to Fiat money Ferrari would start the 1970 season with an-all new car, the 312B, fitted with an all-new 4-cam, 4-valve, Lucas injected, flat-12 good for close to 450 hp at 11,000rpm. The 312B and later 312 T would also feature an all-new chassis numbering system and would be far more competitive cars, but all of that is a story for the next chapter.
Thanks to the following, in alphabetical order: John Amette, (Ferrari Classiche); Arnaud Blanfuney; Ross Bowdler; Jim Busby, (Busby Racing); Andy Dayes; Richard Griot, (Griot’s Garage); Rick Hall (Hall & Hall); Alistair Henderson; Brad Hoyt; Kevin Kalkhoven (Cosworth Engineering); Mike Matune; Anthony Moody; Nigel Petras; Timothy Russell; Glen Smale; Thor Thorson (Vintage Racing Motors); Spencer Trenery (Fantasy Junction); Matthias Urban (f-register.com); Tom Yang