In the mid-1960’s Formula 1 was, perhaps surprisingly, nearly as restrictive technically as it is today. Engines had to be just 1.5 litres or less, which meant they were often comically smaller than those available to the general public. In 1965 the teams requested more power, and to their almost complete surprise the governing body responded by doubling the allowed engine capacity for 1966. We can’t image the FIA being that responsive today…
The Three Litre era of Formula 1 was born as the existing teams scrabbled to take advantage of the new regulations. Ferrari were lucky, having a larger V12 engine available to them from their sports car racing programme, which they modified to keep within the maximum 3000cc allowed and shoved in the back of their F1 chassis. It was a bit of bodge-job though, being heavy and down on torque, and thus the resulting ‘312’ racer wasn’t a Championship winner, taking only three race wins from thirty-eight starts.
With limited success the 312 is sadly most famous for the tragedy that struck Lorenzo Bandini in the 1967 Monaco Grand Prix. On the 82nd lap Bandini caught the guardrail whilst entering the Marina and his car overturned, rupturing a fuel line as it did so. The shower of sparks ignited the car, and with the straw bales lining the track also catching fire Bandini was trapped in the inferno. Marshalls managed to pull him from the car, but he died in hospital a few days later.
Ferrari continued to race the 312 with little success for several more years, with no money to develop a new car and the Cosworth DFV engine used by many other teams winning absolutely everything. Eventually Enzo Ferrari sold a stake of his business to FIAT, and in 1970 used the money to develop a new purpose-built flat-12 engine for Formula 1 racing, finally returning the team to a race winning position.
The 312 was quickly forgotten, but whilst it certainly wasn’t one of Ferrari’s more successful designs, it was – as you can see here – surely one of their most beautiful. The impeccable Model Team replica of the 312 shown in these images comes from Andre Pinto, who has captured every detail of the 312’s the suspension, interior, bodywork, and the (spectacular) V12 engine to create one of the finest classic Formula 1 cars ever built in Lego form.
There’s more to see of Andre’s beautifully photographed 1967 Ferrari 312 at both his Flickr album and at the Eurobricks discussion forum. Take a look via the links above, and if you’d like to hear what that slightly bodged 3.0 V12 sounds like, take a listen here.