60ies Sports Cars
Ferrari 365 P2/3 1966

 My INTEREST IN the Ferrari 365 P2 occurred more by accident than anything else. Since I had been hankering after a 275 LM to add to my collection, deeming this a worthwhile addition to an already fairly exclusive range, I had my sights on a particular LM in Great Britain which had been owned since new by Ron Fry of Bath and raced by him on 40 or more occasions with considerable success. Unfortunately, the deal did not materialize, but at about the same time Colonel R. J. Hoare, the chairman and enthusiastic head of Maranello Concessionaires Ltd., the Ferrari agents for Great Britain, happened to mention that he had a 4.4-liter' 365 P2 available, and since this car had been completely overhauled at the factory prior to the 1966 Le Mans race, and had also been rebodied to P3 specification, this might prove an exciting purchase. Incidentally, this car was first built in the early part of 1965 as a 3.3-liter 275 P2, and took part in the following races during 1965 :

      1) Nurburgring 1000-km race, driven by Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart-retired after 10 laps with an electrical fault.

      2) Le Mans (where it raced for the first time with the 4.4-liter engine) driven by David Piper and Joakim Bonnier - retired at the 9th hour with a large hole burned in one exhaust manifold.

3) Reims 12 hours, driven by John Surtees and Michael Parkes-finished 2nd overall with a new lap record (after breaking an exhaust rocker and catching fire when Surtees was driving).

        4) Austrian Grand Prix for Sports Cars at Zeltweg, driven by Michael Parkes-finished 2nd to Jochen Rindt's 275 LM.

5) Brands Hatch (Guards Trophy) driven by Michael Parkes-6th in first heat, 8th in second heat, placed 6th on aggregate.

During the early part of 1966 the car was returned to Drogo's coachworks at Modena for the body to be converted with the new type windscreen and airfoil fitted, bringing it to P3 specification. It was also fitted with the latest Girling disc brakes. It only took part in one race during 1966, the Le Mans 24 hours, and although the car was running very well it was forced to retire because a new water pump belt stretched and failed to drive the pump, causing the engine to overheat and the car to retire. On this occasion it was driven by David Piper and Richard Attwood. After this race, the car was returned to the works where the engine was removed, stripped, and found to be undamaged. It was subsequently rebuilt, tested and refitted to the car.

In September 1966, I flew to Modena with Colonel Hoare to inspect the car and it was found at Drogo's coachworks, which is most conveniently situated right opposite the Modena Autodrome.                                                                     

Michael Parkes arrived, having kindly agreed to demonstrate the car to me on the Autodrome, and he immediately set about preparing the car for a high-speed demonstration run. After carefully checking that there was sufficient oil (Shell Super Heavy) in the tank located in the nose of the car and that the water was at the correct level in the header tank mounted alongside the engine, he then connected the two lightweight batteries and prepared to start the car. As the carburetor air intakes are in a tray, to which the intake ducting system mates when the whole of the rear bodywork is lowered into place and fastened down, he took great pains to ensure that there was no dirt around the intake trumpets which could be sucked into the engine once it started.

The most exciting moment was when he switched on the four Bendix fuel pumps and actuated the starter, for after a very few turns the engine fired and commenced to run smoothly. After running the engine for about five minutes at 1500 rpm and allowing time for the oil pressure to settle down (the engine starts off from dead cold with a pressure of 12 kg/ sq cm which equals 168 psi and this settles down to 9 kg/sq cm-126 psi~when warmed up), Michael then gave the throttle about four good blips. This produced an enormous roar and the. sundry whining noises always

associated with dry-sump Ferrari engines, shooting out four jets of black smoke from the exhausts at the same time. He then let go of the throttles and allowed the engine to idle while the deck lid was closed and we prepared to move off.

The engine must have been idling for a good five minutes while this was being done and tire pressures checked at the service station next door, all this on racing plugs and without a trace of oiling up! The engine idled, incidentally, at about 800 rpm and was very reminiscent of the slow "hunting" type of tickover which one usually associates with diesel engined trucks. Michael then drove the car to the Autodrome with myself as passenger, the gates and barriers were whisked open as if by magic and we found ourselves on the track in no time at all. The Autodrome is always used in a counter clockwise direction and all except one of the corners are left-handed. After a couple of reasonably slow laps to get the feel of the car and allow it to become thoroughly warmed up, Michael proceeded to really open it up and on all the corners, from the slowest taken at about 60 mph, to the fastest taken at about 110, he had the tail hanging right out with the power well and truly on.

Acceleration was absolutely phenomenal from the slower corners, and as the revs climbed to the 6000 mark (Michael never exceeded 6500 rpm during this demonstration, and the car had the Le Mans gearing) the engine note changed from a harsh crackle to the genuine V-12 scream truly reminiscent of Ferraris, especially racing ones with open exhausts! Braking, by virtue of the new Girling disc brake setup, was astonishing and just at the precise moment when I thought it impossible for the car to be slowed sufficiently to take the next corner, Michael trod on the stopping pedal, with the immediate effect of pinning the car down to the road and exerting a tremendous attraction for me to try and hit the windscreen with my head! At the same time, Michael would be dropping down at least two gears, sometimes three, and with a very quick transfer from brake to accelerator Just before the apex of each corner., would reverse the thrust in no uncertain manner. In spite of the huge 11-in.-wide treads on the rear Dunlop R 7 Green Spots, the back end tried hard to step out of line, checked immediately by opposite lock correction.

The most exciting corner by far was the fast left-hander entering the rear straight. This was taken going in at about 90 mph. Being a very long corner, Michael held the nose close in, steering a little to the right all the time and feeding on the power. This caused the rear to go to the right, thus "tightening up" the corner, the car gathering speed at a tremendous rate during this process, and coming out of the corner at about 120 mph, clipping the bushes on the right side of the track at' exactly the same spot every time. After several laps at racing speeds, Michael then proceeded to do a whole lap to cool off .the brakes at about 40 mph in 5th gear, without protest from the engine and no signs of plug oiling.

During the course of my conversation with the Colonel and Michael, I mentioned that I thought the car with its tiny straight-through apologies for mufflers would be a little too raucous for road work, and I thought we should have to do something about quieting it, down" since the law and the inhabitants of Great Britain were nothing like as enthusiastic as those in Italy, especially in the Modena district! Michael then proceeded to do another couple of fairly slow laps so that I could stand on the side of the track and listen to the noise, as he put it, "imagining that you are a typical English policeman." This I did, and although I did not like to mention it to him at the time, I had already decided that we should have to do something about this problem, since I did not want to be driving about on the idling jets at all times for fear of causing a series ocomplaints.

After this very impressive demonstration of the capabilities and docility of the car (surely two of the most significant extremes one usually finds with a Ferrari) I decided to purchase the car there and then, and later on at the Ferrari service depot the deal was made with the Colonel. He very kindly arranged for the car to be transported to England "and dealt with all the customs clearance and importation, etc., having the car delivered to my premises, where it arrived during the early part of October 1966. He also very kindly threw in a spare set of wheels with new R 7 Green Spots fitted, two alternative thickness anti-roll bars, a full set of gaskets, several spare sets of drop gears, and a spare set of hub caps. The latter are made from light alloy and consequently the ones on the car had become rather burred and chipped.

Modifications commenced immediately, and one of the first jobs carried out on the car was to weld on the exhaust pipe ends a pair of Abarth mufflers with chromium plated ends, which had been removed from my Lusso Berlinetta a few years previous when Snaps were fitted to that car. New brackets to take the extra weight of the mufflers were made up and welded into place and flame covers similar to the ones originally fitted were made and clamped over the ends to keep the car as standard looking as possible. This was sufficient to take the harsh note off the exhaust noise without detracting from the traditional V -12 note. The silencers were not touched, for it would be very difficult to fit larger ones, on this car anyway, owing to the fact that the rear lower corners come extremely close to the road where the obligatory luggage accommodation tins are housed under the tail.

The car ran extremely well on first testing, but after several cold starts it was soon realised that it was asking too much of the extremely hard racing plugs (12-mm Marchal 87s) and these were replaced with Champion RIO Is, imported from the U.S. No further adjustments have been made to the mechanical side of the car to date and the only significant change to the specification apart from the mufflers on the exhaust ends has been the changing of the drop gears from 28/36 to 23/32. The 28/36 gears as used at Le Mans, coupled with the 12/38 crown wheel and pinion fitted in the box gave a timed maximum of 189 down the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans 1966 and the 23/32 set up now gives approximately 140 maximum.

Driving the car on the road is a wonderful experience, and if one is used to a non-syncromesh gearbox and a veryshort right-hand lever, it is the easiest thing in the world to handle the superb Ferrari dog-engagement mechanism. It has certainly proved to be the coziest and warmest open sports car I have ever driven, and is surprisingly docile, coming right down to 40 mph in 5th gear and still accelerating away perfectly smoothly and almost as fast as in lower gears! The engine has the characteristic Ferrari racing smoothness from 2000 rpm, when the engine begins to hunt and spit back slightly through the carburetor intakes, up to just over 3000 when things begin to happen in a really big way. The amazing thing about the engine is its smoothness, considering that the mountings of both the engine and gearbox are naturally solid, being bolted directly onto the frame. When the car is being warmed up, for instance, at about (500 rpm, it is possible to balance a coin on top of the engine, which does great credit to the balance of the whole unit. It is so rigidly mounted that a spit-back through a carburetor can be felt in the driving seat as if somebody had kicked the rear of the car. Cockpit noise is rather loud but since it is such a "nice" noise no enthusiast would raise any objection to it and one is very aware of having the engine directly behind the left shoulder. The rack and pinion steering is rather lively, as indeed these units generally are, and the road can certainly be felt through the steering wheel. It is best to allow the wheel to play very lightly through one's fingers and not to try and fight the car at any time, otherwise progress up the road will be carried out in a number of swerves unless the surface is exceedingly smooth.

Brakes, again, are phenomenally good on the road. There has been no attempt made to change from racing pads and there is no necessity whatsoever to have a servo incorporated in the system. Drafts in the cockpit are practically nil, undoubtedly due to the superb aerodynamic shape, and the "fact that the oil and water travel up and down the sides of the cockpit through the chassis tubes makes it very warm and cozy in the coldest weather. Naturally, the radiator grille has to be blanked off quite considerably to persuade the engine to run sufficiently warm for touring, since the system is smooth and easy as a touring car. The change from first to second gears (left back to middle forward) is no problem provided one allows a slight pause in neutral when the gearbox oil is warm, and the same applies for second to third, which is straight back, but fourth and fifth are a very different proposition entirely. The third to fourth shift is from middle rear to right forward and the lever has to be moved as fast as possible to get the change clean. The same applies for the change from fourth to fifth, which is straight back and again the faster the change is made the smoother it is.

Changing down is extremely easy and only requires double clutching and a slight "blip," unless the revs are very low, when the lever can be moved quite easily from gear to gear. The thing that one must remember is to avoid revving the engine too high, for the gear ratios are so close it only requires a whiff of throttle to speed the engip.e sufficiently toget the next lower gear. On a light throttle at about 3000 to 3500rpm, there is a certain amount of spitting back from the carburetors, but once up to 4000 rpm the engine is just beginning to go and is dead clean right up to its recommended maximum of 7200. Presumably, being a 4.4-liter single cam design, this liinit is advisable since the valves must be on the heavy side.

The road holding at all speeds is, of course, absolutely fantastic, and the "M" section R 7 Green Spots are equally good wet or dry. The car has no vices whatsoever on /corners, apart from the aforementioned rack and pinion steering bogey, and does not under- or oversteer at any time no matter how fast it is being cornered. This is naturally what one would expect with. a racing car which is set up for very high speeds indeed, for its potential can never be approached when being used on the road. The only thing that happens in the wet when the limit is being reached for apartic:ular corner is that the whole car tends to drift slightly outwards, warning the driver that the mighty 4.4 should' not be giyen any more reign, for this is no toy sports car. One of the greatest joys of driving the car is to use the gearbox to the full, but if one feels rather lazy it is not necessary to change gear very much at all, and apart from driving in town, fourth and fifth gears suffice.

Standing on the side of the road and observing the car passing at speed is a very exciting exercise. As the car comes into sight one is immediately struck by the fantastic lowness at the front and it gives the impression that it is being driven by a dwarf! It is easy to. understand why other motorists give such incredulous stares when they meet it on the road, for it looks like something out of this world as it approaches, which indeed it is. The fantastic exhaust note is entirely Ferrari and there is a wonderful scream of gears to go with it which one can hear for some considerable time after the car has passed. Another advantage of watching the car go by is to have a whiff of castor-base Shell Super Heavy oil! Soon after I received the car, a request was made by the British Racing & Sports Car Club to borrow it for an exhibition at Olympia at the Racing Car Show. For this the car was very carefully prepared, and judging from the favorable reports noticed in the motoring press, it must have created a pretty good impression. One magazine in particular seemed to be convinced that the car had been prepared at the factory, which was most gratifying.

It is quite a distinction to own what must be the fastest road car in private captivity.

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Ferrari 410 1956

Author: ArchitectPage