Ferrari 312P Berlinetta #18 – Tecnomodel

312P #18
1965 Ferrari 312P Berlinetta #18
Pilots: P. Rodriguez, D. Piper
Team: SpA Ferrari SEFAC
Race: DNF (P 3.0 class) at Le Mans in 1969
Tecnomodel - TM43-005B #032/140 (resin)

Published 01/26/24

In 1966 and 1967, Ford delivered a serious licking to Ferrari at Le Mans. Concurrently, in the 1967 season, FIA limited engine displacement for sports car racing in 1968 to 4 liters. That being so, Ferrari’s current car, the 4-liter 330 P4, became ineligible. And with all that, Il Commendatore almost had a cow, deciding to boycott the 1968 championship. Well, he did blow up, yet Ferrari was also strapped for cash after the Ford vs Ferrari War… He eventually calmed down, and gave approval for the development of a new car for Group 6. Mauro Forghieri, Ferrari’s chief engineer, therefore designed a brand new 2991 cm³ flat-12 engine. It was a sophisticated engine, with 48 valves and DOHC, with Lucas indirect fuel injection, producing 331 kW (450 hp). The design of the car was the responsibility of Giacomo Caliri, recently hired at Ferrari.

312P #18
The 312 P had a strong resemblance to the Can-Am 612P, both designed by Giacomo Caliri.

This new car would be the 312 P – 3-liters 12 cylinders Prototype. Well, not totally new, since it combined elements of the 330 P4, 612 Can-Am and the 312 F1 car. The chassis was a semi-monocoque integrated to a steel tube space frame with aluminum panels riveted on for additional rigidity. Suspension was fully independent with coil springs over telescopic shock absorbers. Compared to the 330 P4, it had a shorter wheelbase and wider tires. The first prototype was ready in December 1968, and it was a very short barchetta. For Le Mans, however, Caliri also designed a berlinetta, heavier yet more aerodynamically efficient for Les Hunaudieres. The car was quite promising when compared to the P4 it replaced. Despite the smaller engine, it only delivered 14.9 kW (20 hp) less, and was 100 kg lighter. The 312 P debuted in March, in the 1969 Sebring 12 Hours.

On the Mulsanne straight, 312 P #18 could reach almost 320 km/h.

The new 312 P proved to be blistering fast, starting on pole position at Sebring, and finished in second place. For the Le Mans Test, in March, Ferrari took chassis #0870, with a barchetta body, finishing in fifth place. For the actual race in June however, Ferrari used the berlinetta body. The factory team arrived with two cars, chassis #0870 (312 P #18) and #0872 (#19). Pilots would be David Piper and Pedro Rodriguez in car #18 and Chris Amon and Peter Schetty in car #19. They started in fifth and sixth respectively, however Amon in #19 crashed out in the accident that killed John Woolfe. The 312 P #18 soldiered on, however a gearbox failure on lap 223 took it out of the race. Unfortunately, that was it for the 312 P at La Sarthe as a works car. 

312P #18
Tecnomodel only made 140 units of the 312P #18 – mine is #032.

For 1970 FIA messed again with the rules, allowing 5.0-liter engines for sports cars. Ferrari, committed to the 3-liter engine, didn’t have time for a new car. However, Porsche did, and then began the Porsche Era at Le Mans. The 312 P was a good car, and proved to be fast. Nonetheless, FIA’s untimely rule change made it non-competitive for an overall win at Le Mans. On the other hand, in 1:43 scale Tecnomodel delivered a winner. The brand masterfully recreated the real deal in model form, and it looks terrific. I have to say that so far, Tecnomodel is the BEST 1:43 brand that I know. Yes, better than Spark, Looksmart, BBR, etc. Yet even looking great, 312P #18 was an obscure car at Le Mans. Consequently, this is a model that may not appeal to many. For the W-143 Garage though, it’s an awesome acquisition.

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