Ferrari Classiche celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2021, and what better way to mark the occasion than by restoring one of the marque’s most significant racing cars?
This 412 P completed a one-two-three hat trick for Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1967, trouncing the opposition from Ford and Porsche, thereby restoring honour to a racing team that had suffered a difficult season in 1966.
The bodywork was the only major element of this 412 P not made originally at the factory. It was restored strictly according to the handcrafted methods in use at the time
Like many old racing cars, 412 P chassis #0844 led a convoluted life after being originally built as a 330 P3 for the 1966 racing calendar. It competed at Sebring, the Targa Florio, and at Le Mans in ’66, before being converted into a 412 P Berlinetta for Luigi Chinetti’s NART dealership in the USA.
In 1967 it raced at the Monza 1,000Km, and again at Le Mans. But its most significant result was in that year’s 24 Hours of Daytona, where it finished third in the capable hands of Pedro Rodríguez and Jean Guichet behind two works-entered Ferrari.
In the case of this 412 P, chassis #0844, this was a conversion of a 330 P3 racer, using bodywork suitably upgraded by independent coachbuilder Drogo for the 1967 race season
Later that same year, back in Italy, #0844 was transformed with a new Spider body for Can-Am competition, and it continued racing in the USA through to the early ’70s. It passed through a handful of collectors there before being rebuilt back into its 1967 412 P Berlinetta body style in the late 1990s, before eventually arriving in 2019 at Ferrari Classiche for certification and a full restoration.
“There are three major elements to such a project,” explains Andrea Modena, the Head of Ferrari Technical Assistance and Ferrari Classiche. “First comes the Assessment, when our Certification Committee – which comprises experts who are independent of Ferrari, to ensure impartiality – will analyse the car’s authenticity so that we can tell the customer what needs to be done.
In its unpainted form, the raw beauty of the 412 P can be fully appreciated. As with all racing Ferrari however, its form strictly followed function
“Then there is the Technical Examination – do the mechanical parts need repair or a total rebuild? And finally there is the bodywork, for which we are fortunate to call upon the services of Ferrari Centro Stile. They are able to 3D-scan the car so that it can be compared with original pictures or perhaps with a surviving unrestored car.
“In the case of 412 P #0844 the original bodywork was by Drogo, so we have a general arrangement drawing but not exact blueprints. And these cars were handmade, so each one was subtly different in any case. We found we needed to make some alterations to the current bodywork, which was done by our external partners using the original metal-shaping method of a soft-faced hammer over a wooden dolly. They are not allowed to use an ‘English wheel’ to roll the panels, because that gives a different finish and is not authentic.”
The beautifully restored 412 P. Although the frame that supports the radiator needed to be re-manufactured, the engine remains the original
Bodywork is the only element of restoration not done in-house, as was often the case also back in the day. Ferrari engineers inspected #0844’s chassis and drivetrain and found it generally sound, complete with a matching-numbers engine.
Fortunately, the complicated tubular chassis had been largely untouched. “It’s actually difficult to modify the chassis because it is used for carrying fluids such as oil, fuel, and coolant,” explains Modena. “But equally that means it is very important that the chassis tubes are in good condition. One of the few parts we had to re-manufacture was the unusual frame that supports the radiator, very low in the nose of the car. But having the original drawings in our archive meant that we could re-make it exactly.”
Chassis #0844 was one of 25 Ferrari Classiche full restorations during 2021, along with some 40 other repair commissions. Since 2006 its workforce has almost doubled, to meet demand. No wonder, when cars as historically significant as this Ferrari 412 P are involved. To misquote George Orwell: ‘All Ferrari are important – but some Ferrari are more important than others.’