By 1973 Ferrari was no longer able to compete with the Cosworth DFV engined 'kit-cars' from the UK. It's flat 12 engine 312 B proved a winner when first introduced in 1970 with four victories, but in 1973 the Scuderia won not one F1-race. In order to become competitive again Enzo Ferrari made some major personnel changes and pulled the Scuderia out of sports car racing. Mauro Forghieri was reinstated as chief-engineer and set out to completely re-design the flat 12 engine. Appointed as team-manager was Luca de Montezemelo, who has been associated with Ferrari in various functions for over thirty years now. Finally a new driver pairing was signed for 1974; Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni.
Many modifications were carried through in the 312 B3 for 1974. Lauda proved the speed of the modified B3, securing nine pole positions. Poor reliability meant that only two out of the nine poles materialised in victories. Regazzoni scored another victory and was runner up in the championship behind McLaren's Emerson Fittipaldi. Three victories was a major improvement over the 1973 season, but there was more to come from the 'new team'.
At the end of the season, work was started on a new car, main focus was to construct a very compact racer. The new transverse gearbox helped to keep the weight between the front and rear axle and gave the new car its name; 312 T (transversale). Centering the weight makes cornering easier. The gearbox was directly bolted on a 485 bhp version of the flat 12 engine. Although slightly heavier than the DFV engine, the 12 cylinder unit outpowered its British counterpart by at least 20 bhp.
All the improvements made and the talented driver pairing gave Ferrari the best chance in years to win a championship again. However it wasn't until the third Grand Prix that Lauda got his hands on the 312 T, but when he did he proved the pace was there with a pole position, closely followed by his team-mate in the other 312 T. A crash in the first lap ended the hopes for the 312 T's maiden victory. All was well in the next couple of Grands Prix, with Lauda winning four out of the next five races. Regazzoni won the all important Italian Grand Prix at Monza and Lauda grabbed the victory in the final Grand Prix of the year. Lauda secured Ferrari's first driver's title since Surtees' title of 1964 and the Scuderia took the constructor's title as well.
New airbox regulations forced Ferrari to launch a first evolution of the 312 T halfway through the 1976 season. Dubbed the T2, it featured new air intakes on either side of the cockpit. Lauda was on his way to prolongue his title in the T2, but a heavy crash on the Nürburgring left him badly burned. In a remarkable short time he returned to the cockpit of his Ferrari, but he could not prevent McLaren's James Hunt to take the title. Lauda and T2 proved to be the winning formula in 1977 winning both the driver's and constructor's championships.
Featured is one of the seven 312 T2s campaigned in the 1976 and 1977 Formula 1 seasons. It is seen here competing at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix and demonstrated at the Cavallino Classic. As a tribute to the 1977 World Champion, the current owner always wears a helmet in Niki Lauda's colours when he drives the car.