At the end of the 1972 season the crisis at the Ferrari Formula 1 team had reached a new peak; with a few exceptions, the scarlet red racers had not been competitive for almost a decade. There was a brief glimmer of hope when the Mauro Forghieri designed 180 degree V12 engine hit the tracks in 1970. It was very powerful and the low centre of gravity contributed greatly to the success of the 312 B. In good Ferrari tradition the successful design was just given a minor upgrade for the following seasons, while the competition continued to improve at a rapid rate.
Pioneered by Lotus, the biggest revolution of this period was the transition from a single nose mounted radiator to two radiators mounted on each side of the cockpit. This reduced the frontal area and also improved the handling as more of the car's mass was concentrated around the car's centre of gravity. For the 1973 season, Forghieri decided to try to bridge the gap to the competition once more. Much of the 312 B2 was discarded with the exception of the engine and suspension for Ferrari's most revolutionary Formula 1 design ever.
Forghieri's motive behind the design was to combine a low center of gravity with a low polar moment by mounting as much of the mechanicals inside the very short wheelbase. He was no doubt inspired by the short wheelbase Tyrrells and the Lotus 72 that had done very well in the previous seasons. The radiators were installed on both sides of the cockpit, although the air-intakes were still in the nose whereas the Lotus used 'side-pods'. The most striking feature of the new 312 B3 was the very square bodywork between the front and rear axle and the steep full width nose.
Late in 1972, the new 312 B3 was extensively tested by Jacky Ickx and Arturo Merzario at Monza and on the newly opened Fiorano private test track. The unusual nose treatment quickly earned it the nickname 'Spazzaneve' or snow-plow in the Italian press. Sadly the Spazzaneve never started a Grand Prix as before the season started Mauro Forghieri was transferred to the experimental department and his work taken over by Sandro Colombo. Colombo incorporated some elements of Forghieri's designs in his '312 B3', but it was far more conservative and not very successful. Forghieri returned a year later and used much more of the Spazzaneve design and from 1974 it all started to go very well for the Italian manufacturer.
Ferrari's experimental vehicles are usually left in a corner of the factory to catch dust, but the 'Spazzaneve' was remarkably sold to customer. It changed hands two times more before being offered in the 2002 Bonham's The Ferrari Sale in Gstaad Switzerland. The car's current owner has an a keen interest in the more unusual Formula 1 racers, which was obvious at the 2006 Monaco Historic Grand Prix where he raced his Tecno PA123 and demonstrated the 'Spazzaneve'.