Model history: Even though Ferrari were a dominating force in single seaters and especially sports cars in the early 1960s, the Italian marque continued to explore new technical avenues to maintain and expand their domination. After taking the driver's championship in the first year of the 1.5 litre Formula 1 era in 1961, Ferrari's fortunes had dwindled with the advent of the advanced V8 engined British racers. The Scuderia's desire to reclaim the title was especially clear in 1964 when cars with three different engine configurations were fielded in one season.
Ferrari started off the season with the latest evolution of the V6 engine that had proven so successful in 1961, but was now outclassed by the Coventry Climax and BRM V8s. With the monocoque Lotus chassis setting new standards in rigidity and lightweight, Ferrari required a powerplant that was more than on par with the Brits. Launched a few races into the season the all new 1.5 litre V8 proved to be just that. In the hands of multiple motorcycle World Champion John Surtees, the '158' was a frequent winner and brought Ferrari their second world championship of the decade. To this day Surtees is the only rider/driver to score World Championships both on two and four wheels.
Despite the successes scored with the V8, it became clear late in the season that it was just a stop-gap before an all new 12 cylinder racer was to take over. Designed by young engineer Mauro Forghieri, the V12 engine had an angle of 180 degrees, but should not be confused with a boxer engine, which features a completely different crankshaft design. It was extremely compact and despite having four more cylinders it fitted in a 158 chassis. With 24 plugs, four distributors and four coils it was a very complex engine, initially good for around 220 bhp. Its biggest advantage was the low centre of gravity of the flat configuration, which positively affected the handling.
Due to problems concerning the 250 LM's homologation Ferrari had lost their license and they were forced to debut the '1512' under Luigi Chinetti's North American Racing Team (NART) flag in the Watkins Glen Grand Prix late in the 1964 season. Livered in blue and white the new racers were on the pace in qualifying where Lorenzo Bandini recorded the third time. An engine failure forced the talented Italian to retire in the race. Three weeks later he took to the track again in the first 1512 and finished third in the Mexican Grand Prix closely trailing Graham Hill.
For 1965 two more cars were constructed, but because of technical difficulties and lack of low-end torque team leader John Surtees often preferred the 158 over the 1512. Halfway through the season a highly modified version of Forghieri's V12 was introduced, which was rumoured to produce over 250 bhp. It was not enough to turn the complex Ferrari into a winning machine and Bandini's second place finish in the Monaco Grand Prix was the car's best result. At the end of the season the rules were changed once more and the engine displacement limit was increased to 3 litres, leaving the 1.5 litre engines obsolete.
Although the three cars were retired, Forghieri's flat 12 design was not and first reappeared in the all-conquering two litre 212 E Montagna. In the hands of Peter Schetty it recorded nine victories in nine entries in the 1969 European hillclimb championship. In three litre form the 12 cylinder engine would dominate the World Sportscar Championship in the early 1970s and more importantly Formula 1 in the second half of the decade. In the hands of talented drivers like Niki Lauda, Gilles Villeneuve and Jody Scheckter, the flat 12 Ferraris scored three driver's and four constructor's championship between 1975 and 1979.
Although not a big success on the track, the 1512 must have given Ferrari's engineers and Forghieri in particular valuable data later used to build the multiple championship winning two and three litre variants. It is also the only Ferrari to ever receive a four digit type indication. Remarkably all three cars survived and have been in long time ownership in various collections. Unlike previous Ferrari single seaters the 1512s were not destroyed to prevent them falling the hands of the competition, because they were truly obsolete at the end of the season.
The second of three examples produced, this 1512 F1 debuted in the hands of John Surtees during the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. Like its sister cars, chassis 0008 was not particularly successful with Lorenzo Bandini's fourth in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza the highest placing. At the end of 1965, the car was sold or perhaps even given to Luigi Chinetti for his loyal support. Although it was not one of the NART cars, it was understandably painted in the blue and white colours used at Watkins Glen in 1964. During the 1980s the car passed into the hands of Monte Shalett, who eventually sold it the current owner at Christie's 2005 Monterey auction for just over $1 million.
Determined to return the car to full running order, chassis 0008's new custodian sent the car to Italy for a complete restoration to its original configuration and colour scheme. It proved a difficult and lengthy project, and eventually the help of the 1512's original designer Mauro Forghieri was called in. Completed early in May of 2012, chassis 0008 was rushed to Monaco for the Historic Grand Prix. The lack of testing hampered the effort but during the brief moments the car was on song, it did look and sound absolutely fantastic. More work will be required to get the car to full running order but we do hope to see it back out for the Goodwood Revival in September.