Ferrari 365 P2 “White Elephant” #18 – Tecnomodel

1965 Ferrari 365 P2 “White Elephant” #18
Pilots: M. Gregory, B. Bondurant
Team: North American Racing Team (NART)
Race: DNF (P 5.0 class) at Le Mans in 1966
Tecnomodel - TM43-007B #48/145 (resin)

Published 11/17/23

Ferrari won Le Mans in 1963 and 1964, respectively with their 250 P and 275 P. However, to face Ford’s GT40 program, for 1965 they needed something more powerful. The answer was the 275/330 P2 barchetta, which was in essence a refinement over the 250 and 275 P. The steel tubular space frame chassis and the double-wishbone suspension on all four corners were carry-overs from the P. However, the all-aluminum bodywork was new, being more aerodynamic. Ferrari feared Ford’s engines, so for the P2 they developed a new DOHC V12. Initially, Maranello had two new engines displacing 3.3 and 4 liters, with a power output of around 350-400 hp. For their customers, however, reluctant to offer them the new sophisticated DOHC engine, they offered a simpler SOHC 4390 cm³. These customer cars, called 365 P2, produced 283.4 kW (380 hp), allowing almost 300 km/h.

After the Sebring accident, the barchetta 365 P2 #0838 became a coupé.

One of these customers was the North American Racing Team. NART acquired chassis #0838 from Ferrari in 1965. They painted their new barchetta in the traditional Ferrari rosso and debuted it at the 24 Heures du Mans. The car did great, finishing in seventh overall and first in the P 5.0 class. They also raced it at Bridgehampton and Mosport, finishing in second and third respectively. The following year, at the 24 Hours of Daytona, it finished in fourth. And then, in March, during the 1966 12 Hours of Sebring, disaster struck. During the night, with Mario Andretti at the wheel, NART’s 365 P2 collided with a Porsche 906. The resulting crash was horrific, with the 906 hitting the crowd and killing four people. Andretti’s P2 hit a sandbank and then caught fire, suffering extensive damage.

Since #18 raced without the rear fins, it doesn’t come with the elefantino rampante.

Despite the extensive damage, NART salvaged the car. They entrusted the wreck to Piero Drogo’s Carrozzeria Sports Cars, whom rebodied it with a roof and a long tail. With Le Mans around the corner, Drogo extended the P2’s tail to gain stability on the Mulsanne straight. Even with the heavy modifications, the 365 P2 was ready for Le Mans in June. This time, however, sporting #18 and painted in NART’s regular white (no blue stripes, though). NART tested different aerodynamic configurations before the race – rear fins and no wing, rear fins with wing and only wing. For the actual race, they opted to use just rear wing with no fins. With the white elephant painted on the rear fins in practice runs, 365 P2 received the nickname “White Elephant”. The White Elephant was not lucky in the race, though – on lap 88 the gearbox broke and it retired.

Tecnomodel correctly replicated the race version of the 1967 White Elephant, therefore there’s no elephant decal.

After Le Mans, NART sold the car to David Piper, who raced it in the World Sportscar Championship. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find out exactly why #0838 had the white elephant logo. Since the elephant is standing just like a certain cavalino rampante, I think it was a joke. Probably a jab at Maranello 🐴? However, since Tecnomodel replicated the race version of the car, the model doesn’t come with the elephant emblem. This car was totally out of my radar, and I honestly barely knew anything about it other than the nickname. Even so, when Tecnomodel announced they were making it in 143rd, I ordered one immediately. And it’s a very nice model, at least Spark-good (a bit more expensive, too). And in my opinion, with the nicest case I’ve seen so far in 1:43. Tecnomodel only made 145 models of the 365 P2 #18, and mine is #48/145.

Tecnomodel: better than Spark? Very possibly.

The White Elephant is a non-winning car, yet a car with a rich history. So, in the end, a fantastic representation of an obscure car yet with colorful history. In other words, perfect for the W-143 Garage 😊. And of course, being a gorgeous model helps too – a fantastic model of a beautiful car.

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