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  Ferrari 412 S Scaglietti Spyder

  Article Image gallery (32) 0744 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1958
Numbers built:1
Designed by:Scaglietti
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:September 06, 2007
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn the 1950s the V12 engines used by Ferrari were either of the Colombo (short block) or Lampredi (long block) design, with only a few, but very notable exceptions. Both these single overhead camshaft engines had proven successful in sportscar and GT-racing, securing wins in all major races. Halfway through the decade a new breed of much more capable machines was developed, headlined by the incredibly powerful quad-cam V8 engined Maserati 450S. At the same time, Ferrari's engineering department was reinforced by the legendary Vittorio Jano, who had come over from Lancia together with the D50 Formula 1 cars. Under his guidance young designers Vittorio Bellentani, Alberto Massimino and Andrea Fraschetti set about to develop the Colombo V12 engine for the 1956 season.

In the previous season, Ferrari mainly fielded four and six cylinder engined racers, which especially in large displacement form proved hopelessly unreliable. That's why Jano's men turned back to the trusted V12 configuration for their new engine. Instead of giving them time to properly develop the engines, Ferrari insisted on fielding their work as soon as it was completed. First to roll out of the workshop were four 290 MMs, powered by a long stroke version of the 3-litre Colombo engine. These 3.5 litre engined machines proved immediately successful, clinching both the Swedish Grand Prix and the Mille Miglia in 1956. For Le Mans, Ferrari again turned to the four cylinder machines and all four 290 MMs were sold to privateers in the fall of 1956.

Replacing the 290 MM for 1957 was an altogether more sophisticated machine. While the 3.5 litre displacement was retained, the Type 130 V12 fitted in the '290 S' sported brand new heads with twin camshafts. Breathing through six massive twin-choke Weber carburettors, the new engine produced a commendable 330 bhp. This was still well shy of the 400 bhp claimed for Maserati's 450S. Like its predecessors, the 290 S used a tubular ladder frame with independent front suspension, a DeDion rear axle, drum brakes and a sleak Scaglietti designed two-seater body. Two of these machines lined up for the season opener at Buenos Aires in January, but neither car managed to make it to the finish. Back in Italy, the quad-cam engines were further increased in size to 3.8 litre (a unitary displacement of 315 cc).

For the next world championship round at Sebring in March, a brand new 315 S was constructed and one of the cars raced in Argentina was upgraded to the latest 360 bhp spec. All three cars were fielded, but could do no better than fourth, sixth and seventh in a race dominated by Juan Manuel Fangio in his 450S. For the all important Mille Miglia another 315 S was constructed and the first 290 / 315 S received more work still and it had its engine increased to just over 4 litre; it was now known as the 335 S. Ferrari also constructed a brand new 390 bhp 335 S to join the two 315 S racers and the one 290 / 315 / 335 S in the four car Works team. At the hands of Alfonso de Portago, the latter suffered a terrible fatal crash, which effectively ended the Mille Miglia. The two 3.8 litre cars were more successful, finishing first and second. It was the brief highlight of these advanced machines' Works career as starting in 1958 sports cars were limited to three litre.

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  Article Image gallery (32) 0744 Specifications