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  Article Image gallery (40) Chassis (2) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1967
Numbers built:2
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:August 26, 2015
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Click here to download printer friendly versionEndurance racing was dominated by Ferrari when John Cooper turned the racing world up side down with his mid-engined F1 racers in the late 1950s. Caught off guard in Formula 1 by Cooper, Enzo Ferrari made sure he kept the upper hand in sportscar racing with a number of V6 and V12 mid engined prototypes.

First seen in action in 1961, the Dino 246 SP was Ferrari's first step into mid-engine sportcars. After two years of racing with smaller engined prototypes the first V12 engined car was launched, the 250 P. In the years to come the P-series would form the mainstay of Ferrari's sportscar program.

Enzo Ferrari was proven right, after his cars scored the final front-engined victory at Le Mans in 1962, the 250 P took the first ever mid-engined win a year later. On the track Ferrari's dominance was as big as ever both in the prototype and GT class, but across the Atlantic Ocean a scheme was designed to break the Scuderia's stronghold. At first Henry Ford tried to buy Ferrari, but when negotiations failed, Ford set out to design a car that could beat those 'fast little red cars' as he called them. With the Lola Mk 6 as base, the Ford GT made its debut at the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Now fitted with a four litre engine, the 330 P proved both quicker and more reliable than the little tested Ford GT. With no Fords finishing, Ferrari scored an impressive 1-2-3. In the GT-class Ford scored a first success by beating the GTOs with the AC Cobra Daytona Coupe. No expense was spared on either side of the ocean and Ferrari wheeled out the new P2 which would face Ford's 7-litre GT40. Again reliability problems let Ford down, but Ferrari's prototypes didn't fare much better, with the only surviving P2 finishing in 7th position. Ferrari's face was saved by the NART entered 250 LM.

For the 1966 season the FIA dropped the minimum windshield width regulations. The narrower windshields helped improve the top speed of the cars by around 15 km/h. Alarmed by Ford's 1965 pace, Ferrari set out to revise the P2 to suit the new regulations and bring it up to GT40 speed. In Ferrari tradition, modifications were made to the already reliable chassis.

Sleeker than ever, the P3 featured fiberglass doors. It was the first time the Maranello based team favoured the lightweight material over the aluminium used on the previous prototypes. The clutch was relocated from right behind the gearbox to between the gearbox and engine. The gearbox was a new ZF five speed unit. Lovely looking, but now getting outdated, the six Weber Carburetors found on the 330 P2 were replaced by a Lucas Fuel Injection system on the P3's engine. The engine provided slightly more power, but the wider track added some weight, giving the P3 a similar power to weight ratio as the P2. Three P3s were constructed.

Results in the opening races of the season were promising. Piloted by Mike Parkes the P3 won the 1000 km races at Monza and Spa with John Surtees and Ludovico Scarfiotti respectively as co-drivers. Luck changed for Ferrari as labor problems at the factory prevented proper preperations for the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Down on development time, none of the P3s made it past the 17th hour of the race. In contrast, Henry Ford had his Le Mans victory with a stunning 1-2-3, a feat previously only displayed by 'those fast little red cars'.

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  Article Image gallery (40) Chassis (2) Specifications