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  Ferrari 312 B3/74
 

  Article Image gallery (19) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1974 - 1975
Numbers built:4
Designed by:Mauro Forghieri
Predecessor:Ferrari 312 B3 'Spazzaneve'
Successor:Ferrari 312 T
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 29, 2006
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAfter yet another disappointing season, Ferrari were desperate for success at the end of 1973. Due to the easily available, powerful and reliable Cosworth DFV engines and the lucrative sponsorship deals, the Italians were faced with very strong British competition. Back at home frequent strikes slowed down production and preparation and it got so bad 1973 that Ferrari had to outsource production of the chassis to a British company. To turn things around some drastic measures were taken including the withdrawal from all other racing activities.

Ferrari had been recently acquired by Fiat and they transferred one of their new managers to Maranello to help Enzo Ferrari out. Just 27 years old, Luca Cordero di Montezemelo became Enzo Ferrari's right hand man and head of the racing department. One of his first actions was to reinstate Mauro Forghieri as chief designer, less than a year after he was 'promoted' to the experimental department. Forghieri's immediate task was to turn the dreadful Sandro Colombo designed 312 B3 into a competitive racing machine. This gave him the opportunity to incorporate some of the ideas used on his radical 312 B3 'Spazzaneve', which was tested late in 1972, but then discarded in favour of the far more conventional design raced in 1973.

During the 1973 season a variety of improvements had already been carried through on the B3, including the later mounted radiators as used on the Spazzaneve. These reduced drag and improved the weight balance compared to the conventional nose-radiator. It also freed up space for a more efficient full-width front wing. Like its competitors the B3 also grew a large airbox behind the driver's head to force more air into the engine's intakes. These were changes for the better, but the execution was far from elegant. Forghieri set this straight with his straightened out and very good looking 312 B3/74. Disappointed by the 1973 machine, lead driver Jacky Ickx had walked out before the season was over, but in the experienced Swiss Clay Regazzoni and the very young Austrian Niki Lauda, Ferrari had found two worthy replacements.

With a much improved atmosphere within the team created by Di Montezemelo's fresh approach, the drivers and technicians travelled to Argentina for the season opener. After scoring not a single podium finish in 1973, the second and third place scored by Lauda and Regazzoni immediately made 1974 an improvement. After another second place finish, the fourth round at Jarama in Spain saw Lauda achieve Ferrari's first victory for two years and to underline the team's return to the sport's forefront, Regazzoni finished second. Lauda and Regazzoni each scored another win that season and the Swiss finished second in the championship behind McLaren's Emerson Fittipaldi. In the constructor's standings Ferrari was also eclipsed by McLaren, but unlike the previous seasons there was plenty of reason to celebrate back home in Maranello.

Forghieri was not satisfied and continued his work to create the perfect racing machine. He knew that the car's handling characteristic would be ideal if all the mass was within the wheelbase, as low and as close to the center of gravity as possible. His flat twelve engine already greatly contributed to that desire, but for 1975, the talented engineer added a transverse gearbox to the mix. Conventional longitudinal gearboxes were usually installed behind the differential, so outside the wheelbase, which was not needed with Forghieri's compact transverse 'box. Outwardly similar to the 1974 312 B3, the 312 T (for transversale) continued the upward trend in 1975 resulting in the constructor's crown for Ferrari and the driver's title for Lauda.

Already successful in their own right, the 312 B3/74 proved vital for the learning curve for the young team manager and driver and for reassuring the already experienced engineer. It was a sign of a very glorious period to come, which earned the Italians four constructor's and three driver's titles. Featured are two surviving examples of the 312 B3/74, which are pictured here at the 2006 Monaco Historic Grand Prix.

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  Article Image gallery (19) Specifications