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  Article Image gallery (154) Chassis (7) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1971 - 1973
Numbers built:12
Designed by:Mauro Forghieri
Predecessor:Ferrari 312 P Berlinetta
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 19, 2015
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWhen the FIA (Federation International d'Automobile) dramatically changed the regulations for sports car racing at the end of 1967, Ferrari's entire fleet of sports prototypes were left obsolete. In an attempt to get on top in Formula 1 again, Ferrari decided to abandon sports car racing and completely focus on open wheel racing for at least a year. Disappointing Formula 1 results in the 1968 season saw the Scuderia return to prototype racing, trailing a year in terms of development time.

Two types of racers were eligible to compete under the new regulations; 3 litre prototypes or 5 litre sports cars, which needed minimum production of 25 cars to be homologated. Ferrari already had experience in Formula 1 with racing 3-litre engines, so it came as no surprise that when they announced their return to sports car racing, a new 3 litre prototype, the 312 P, was unveiled. After only half a season it was abandoned with the works team focusing on the construction of the 5 litre 512 S, which was to be pitched against the Porsche 917 first seen at Le Mans in 1969.

A year after the 917, the Ferrari 512 S made its debut. It was immediately running quick laps, but being a year behind the 917 in development, it was beaten on reliability. For the second time in two years Ferrari cut a development program short and started work on yet another racer. With most of the 512s sold to privateers, it was time to produce another three litre prototype. It would be based on the brand new 180 degree V12 engine, which made its debut in the 1970 312 B Formula 1 racer. This Mauro Forghieri designed engine would become one of the most successful engines of the 1970s.

Outwardly similar to a boxer engine, the Forghieri was a flat V-engine. The difference between a boxer and a flat V engine is the shape of the crank and the ignition sequence; a boxer engine's opposing pistons move towards each other whereas a V engine's pistons move in unison. The big advantage over the 60 degree V12 engine used in the previous 312 P was the low height of the 180 degree engine. This helped to decrease the car's overall height and to lower the centre of gravity, which helped handling.

Although technically it was not a boxer engine, cars powered by Forghieri's V12 were often given the abbreviation 'B'. This, officially, was not the case with the 312 P of 1971, but it is now commonly known as 312 PB, which also helps to distinguish it from the 312 P of 1969. Like its Formula 1 counterpart, the 312 PB featured an aluminium semi-monocoque. The engine and rear suspension were attached to a steel frame which was bolted on the aluminium tub. The 312 PB was basically a Formula one racer with a full width body.

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  Article Image gallery (154) Chassis (7) Specifications