The Ferrari P series were prototype sports cars in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Although Enzo Ferrari resisted the move even with Cooper dominating F1, Ferrari began producing mid-engined racing cars in 1960 with the Ferrari Dino-V6-engine Formula Two 156, which would be turned into the Formula One-winner of 1961.
Sports car racers followed in 1963. Although these cars shared their names (based on engine displacement) with road models, they were almost entirely dissimilar. The first Ferrari mid-engine in a road car did not arrive until the 1967 Dino, and it was 1971 before a Ferrari 12-cylinder engine was placed behind a road-going driver in the 365 GT4 BB.
The 250 P was a Prototype racer produced in 1963, winning the 12 Hours of Sebring, 1000 km Nürburgring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in that year. It was an open cockpit mid-engined design with a single-cam 3.0 L 250 Testa Rossa V12 engine and was almost entirely unrelated to the other 250 cars.
The 275 P and 330 P were evolutions of the 250 P with 3.3 L and 4.0 L engines, respectively. These raced during 1963 and 1964.
The 250 P evolved into a saleable mid-engined racer for the public, the 250 Le Mans. Introduced at Paris in November, 1963, the LM was successful for privately entered racers around the world. Notably, a 250 LM entered by the North American Racing Team won the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans driven by Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory, which remains as Ferrari's last overall victory in the endurance classic. About 32 models were built in 1964 and 1965, with all but the first few powered by 3.3 L 320 hp (238 kW) engines, though the name did not change with the increase in displacement. A fully independent double wishbone suspension was specified with rack and pinion steering and four wheel disc brakes. Ferrari had intended that the 250 LM be homologated for racing as a Group 3 Grand Touring Car, however in April 1964 the FIA refused to do so as Ferrari had built considerably fewer than the required 100 units. The 250 LM thus had to run as a Prototype until it was homologated as a Group 4 Sports Car for the 1966 season.
An entirely new car, the 330 P2, followed in 1965. It featured a lower and lighter chassis and more aerodynamic body, paired with a 410 hp (305 kW) version of the 330 V12. It was first used by Luigi Chinetti's North American Racing Team (NART) in the Daytona race that year. Some of NART's P2 cars also used the 4.4 L engine and thus were named 365 P2. In 1965 275 P2 0836 won the 1000 km of Monza, 275 P2 0828 won the Targa Florio, 330 P2 0828 won the Nurburgring 1000 km, and 365 P2 0836or0838 won the 12 hr. Reims. It was replaced by the P3 for 1966.
The 1966 330 P3 introduced fuel injection to the Ferrari stable. It also used a P3 (Type 593) transmission that was prone to failure and was replaced by a ZF transmission when P3 0844 and 0848 were converted to 412 P's, another Ferrari first that would only last one season when the ZF's were replaced by 603R P4 transmissions in all the 412 P's.
There are no longer any Ferrari P3's existent as original P3 0846 was converted to a P3/4 and P3's 0844 and 0848 were converted to 412 P's by Ferrari.
The Ferrari 412 P was a "customer version" of the famous 330 P3 race car, built for independent teams like NART (0844), Scuderia Filipinetti (0848), Francorchamps (0850), and Maranello Concessionaires (0854). These cars had carburetor engines instead of the factory Lucas fuel injection. Surviving 412 P cars are worth approximately $8 million at auction. (at Silverstone Classic 2011, 0844's suggested value (by the mechanic working on it) was quoted at UK£12m (US$18m)
There are only 2 cars that were originally built as 412 P's: 0850 and 0854. P3 chassis. P3 Typo Motors except for Carburetors in place of FI. P4 suspension but P3 wheelbase 2412mm vs. 2400mm (P4 and P3/4 0846) 0844 and 0848 were originally P3 Factory Racecars but when Ferrari sold them to customers they removed the Lucas Mechanical Fuel Injection and replaced it with Weber carburetors which reduced their output, something Ferrari wanted to do so that they would win points but not beat the factory cars which were then P3/4 0846 (See Above), P4 0856, P4 0858, and P4 0860.
The P3's and 412 P had the same 4 liter block which is different from the P4 4 liter block and all had P3 not P4 chassis. P3/4 0846 is unique having, after modification by Ferrari for the 1967 race season, a P3 chassis with a P4 engine.
The 412 P and related 330 P3/4 and P4 models weren't eligible for the International Championship of Makes in 1968 as their engines were too large for the new 3 litre Group 6 Prototype category and too few examples had been built to allow homologation for the 5 litre Group 4 Sports Car category which required production of at least 50 units. Ferrari did not contest the championship for a year in protest.
Four 412 Ps were built:
- 0844 was a converted by Ferrari to a 412 P then by Ferrari and NART to a 330 Can AM and is currently in the UK owned by Harry Leventis and has a 412 P body.
- 0848 was a converted by Ferrari from a P3 to a 412 P and is currently in Switzerland
- 0850 is an original 412 P and currently owned by an American
- 0854 is an original 412 P and currently owned by James Glickenhaus, who also commissioned and owns the Ferrari P4/5 and P3/4 #0846
1967 was a banner year for the Enzo Ferrari motor company, as it saw the production of the mid-engined 330 P4, a renowned V12 endurance car meant to replace the previous year's P3.
Only four Ferrari P4-engined cars were ever made: one P3/4 and three 330 P4's. Their 3-valve cylinder head was modeled after those of Italian Grand Prix-winning Formula One cars. To this was added the same fuel injection system from the P3 for an output of up to 450 hp (335 kW).
The P3/4, one of the P4's, and one 412 P electrified the racing world when they crossed the finish line together (in first 0846, second 0856, and third place 0844) in the 1967 24 Hours of Daytona, for a photo finish to counter Ford's photo of the Ford GT 40 MK II's crossing the finish line together First, Second, and Third at Le Mans in 1966.
Since then, the fate of the these four nearly legendary cars has been the subject of much attention. All of the P4's built are accounted for. By chassis number:
- 0846 the only P3/4 was originally built as a P3 by Ferrari. It was modified in December 1966 to accept a P4 engine and it's wheelbase was changed P3 2412mm to P4 2400mm. It retained its P3 nose and chassis becoming a P 3/4. This vehicle was damaged in an accident at Le Mans and was discarded by Ferrari. Recently, many components of the original P3/4 0846 have resurfaced in the possession of exotic car collector and enthusiast James Glickenhaus, a former movie director and stock exchange magnate. Although both he and David Piper (from whom he acquired the car) thought it one of four replica chassis constructed with the blessing of Enzo Ferrari in the late 1960s, it appears that nearly all of the tube frame chassis and other components from the wrecked P3/4 0846 are part this car. This discovery has stirred debate Ferrari Market Letter recently reported: "While Ferrari insists that 0846 was scrapped and is no more, a car exists with strong claims to be the resurrection of that car." Its tube frame chassis appears to be a P3 modified to hold a P4 engine, as was the case with 0846 exclusively, and the damage from two contemporary racing accidents appears in the frame as well. The car's transmission, engine heads, and steering rack also include the correct Le Mans scrutineering marks, linking them to P3 0846 and P3/4 0846 of 1966 and 1967. P3/4 0846 was road tested by Car and Driver magazine.
- 0856 remains in its original state and is owned by Lawrence Stroll
- 0858 was converted into a 350 Can-Am by Ferrari
- 0860 was also converted by Ferrari to a 350 Can-Am but is presently wearing a P4 Spyder body and is in a French automobile museum
The Ferrari 330 P4 made a notable appearance in the video game Forza Motorsport 2. The vehicle received a rarity rating of 10.0-signifying its uniqueness and in Forza Motorsport 3 where it costs 11 million. The P4 in Forza Motorsport 3 is patterned on P3/4 0846 which James Glickenhaus made available to Microsoft and James Glickenhaus is credited by Microsoft in Forza Motorsport for making his P3/4 0846 available to them for this purpose.
The P4 also appears in the video game Gran Turismo 5, as one of the most expensive 20 million classics on the game.
Due to the great fame and sleek appearance of the original design, more than a hundred P4 replicas of various design have been built. A high-quality P4 replica built with genuine Ferrari engine (e.g., a 400i V12) may command as much as $200,000, but simpler ones (often with Rover engines and Renault drive-trains) fetch around $50,000.
After boycotting sports cars racing in 1968 to protest the rule change, Ferrari built another 3000cc prototype in 1969, named the 312 P.
The 3.0 Ferrari 312P Barchetta and 3.0 Ferrari 312P Berlinetta were hardly more than a 3-litre F1 Ferrari 312 with a prototype body. At the 12 Hours of Sebring the spyder finished 2nd to a JWA Gulf Ford GT40. At the BOAC 500 in Brands Hatch the same spyder was 4th behind three Porsche 908-01. At 1000km Monza, Chris Amon took the pole with the 312P spyder, ahead of Jo Siffert's 908-01, but had to retire. At the 1000km Spa, a 312P was second behind the Siffert-Redman 908-01LH. At Le Mans two 312P Berlinettas were entered. They were 5 and 6 on the grid, but didn't finish. At the end of the season the 312Ps were sold to N.A.R.T., the American Ferrari importer of Luigi Chinetti.
These were not designated with P as they were not built for the 3000cc Prototype category, but with S as 5000cc Sports cars, of which at least 25 had to be built. Porsche had made that investment in early 1969 with the new Porsche 917. Ferrari answered with the Ferrari 512 which was introduced for 1970, and later modified as 512 M.
In 1971, another rule change was announced for 1972, and Ferrari abandoned further development of the 512 in order to focus on a new 3 Litre prototype based on the F1 car. The 312PB would prove fast but fragile in its debut at the 1971 Sebring 12 hours. Further development over the 1971 season brought reliability, with the speed.
In 1972, the312PB's with the flat boxer engine was very successful and won all races of the World Championship for Makes in which it competed. Ferrari didn't enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1972, as Enzo Ferrari thought that the F1-based engine could not last the full 24 hours. He would be proven wrong.
They had to enter Le Mans in 1973, though, and finished second behind Matra, same as in the championship. At the end of the 1973 season, Ferrari forced to abandoned sports car racing, by FIAT, and ordered to focus on F1.