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Roaring Back To Life

When a collector brought in a limping but historic F1 single-seater from the late ’60s, it looked like a mission impossible. Almost nothing of the original engine remained. But Maranello’s Classiche restorers accepted the extraordinary challenge to rebuild it almost from scratch
Words: Umberto Zapelloni
Photographs: A.Ceccarelli, A.Bianchetti/Red Focus

The Ferrari Classiche department is where impossible feats become possible. Nothing stops people who are long accustomed to working on every type of engine and car, following original drawings carefully stored in an archive that amounts to the ‘Fort Knox’ of vintage cars. Their latest exploit has seen them put a single-seater from the late 1960s back on the track. 

Irmo Costantini, a leading figure in the Engine Assembly Department and now head of the Officina Classiche; Luigi ‘the jeweller’ Musi, Classiche’s chief engine builder after working in Formula One during the Mansell era; Stefano Tassi, the engine mechanic: the combined efforts of these ‘magicians in red’ brought the 12-cylinder engine of a 312 effectively back to life. 

Moulds before assembly for casting; careful positioning is required for the casting process; 3D printing underway; casting work underway; 3D printed oil pump cover; sand is removed after casting; 

This is no ordinary single-seater, but the 1967 312 F1, chassis number 0007, that was driven by Chris Amon in late 1967 and early 1968, then by Derek Bell in the 1968 Gold Cup and in the same year’s US Grand Prix. A car that made history at the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix as the first Formula One racer to mount a rear wing. 


That innovation was the brilliant idea of Mauro Forghieri, then head of the racing team. The legendary Forghieri was a man who could design and engineer an entire Formula One car from the first to the last bolt. The current owner of the 312 F1, a French collector, first came to Maranello after the car had left him stranded during an historic car race. 

3D modelling the engine block; camshaft supports; working on engine block components; adjusting the guillotines; checking camshaft play

Presented with a car of such importance, Maranello’s Classiche department immediately started retrieving the original drawings of the time and set to work rebuilding the engine in its original form, including defects. They opted only to switch from magnesium to aluminium for the crankcase, to make it more reliable and usable. The engine configuration was taken from the original drawings, and the heads were checked and then restored. In practice, only the cylinder heads of the engine that arrived  at  the  factory  were  saved.  


The crankcase and other parts were built in the foundry.  A 3D model was made, from original drawings which drew praise for the professionalism of the colleagues of that era: “We appreciated the great skill of our designers of the time, who drew in 2D. But thought in 3D,” say today’s Classiche engineers. The finished model was reproduced. The rough model with overlays for subsequent machining, cores, and flaskless moulds were all reproduced for casting simulations and then the actual casting.


Mauro Forghieri, Scuderia Technical Director, keeps a watchful eye at the Belgium F1 GP in 1968

The engine is extraordinary, almost hollowed out like a cathedral, and the castings needed to be worked on. “It’s an extraordinary engine with oil and water galleries practically attached to the cylinders at the top. It is all integrated; it doesn’t even have an oil sump.” It was a complex engine to build using gravity casting, so much so that two castings were needed for a perfect result, to separate the oil and water circuits. However, Ferrari casting know-how meant that in just three months the engine was complete, with bushings specially made by the original supplier.  


The passion of the people in the Racing Department enabled the creation of an engine as similar as possible to the original. A work of art. And, with the 2989.56cc of a 60° V12, it has a voice that doesn’t pass unnoticed