On the 20th of May, 2023, an esteemed Ferrari 312 PB will undergo the process of auctioneering. The said racing car is recognized as Ferrari’s most efficacious achievement, and its market value fluctuates between the range of 14 to 18 million euros.
It is imperative to note that individuals who instantly associate this inquiry with the Formula 1 realm are mistaken. The search for the aforementioned record holder ceased over 50 years ago, and it materializes in the form of the 312 PB, Ferrari’s ultimate sports car utilized within the factory premises until the introduction of the present-day hypercar 499P. Notably, during the 1972 season, Scuderia secured victory in all competitions in which the open, two-seater prototype was engaged.
Estimated price: 14 to 18 million euros
Mauro Forghieri, the acclaimed designer at Ferrari, and his team implemented a plethora of Formula 1 components into their vehicle’s architecture consistently. The 450 horsepower V12 engine, the transmission, and certain aspects of the chassis were sourced from the 312 B model utilized in the 1971 racing season. Consequently, Enzo Ferrari dubbed the resulting two-seater racing car “Formula 1 for aficionados.”
The RM Sothebys auction is set to feature one of the Ferrari 312 PB models, which attained notable success through two overall victories. Distinguished by the chassis number 0886, this particular vehicle was only utilized in the 1972 season, rendering it one of the seven exemplars deployed in the world championship season. RM Sothebys estimated the car’s value to fall between 14 and 18 million euros.
The action takes place on May 19th at Villa Erba located on the western banks of Lake Como in close proximity to Cernobbio. Various distinguished Ferrari models can be found at the auction, such as a 1960 250 GT SWB or an early 1949 Tipo 166 racing sports car. However, none are as expensive as the 312 PB, which significantly contributed to the one-make world championship’s dominant victory- Ferrari’s last title in this category.
Most successful sports prototype
The 312 PB stands out as a preeminent and exemplary sports prototype, as asserted by designer Mauro Forghieri, who expounds on the idea by stressing its distinct qualities: “a conspicuously low center of gravity and a configuration resembling a Formula 1 vehicle rather than a standard racing car featuring an enclosed body”.
Brian Redman, a works driver during that time, corroborates the aforementioned statement by lauding the car’s features: “It was essentially a Grand Prix car with an enclosing shell, and it was quite remarkable. The car was a pleasure to drive, and its gearbox was unequivocally unparalleled.” Moreover, Mario Andretti, another works driver during 1971 and 1972, adds: “It maneuvered like a Formula 1 car. It was diminutive and nimble.”
During the opening season of 1971, Ferrari made their initial appearance with a 312 P and continued to develop it throughout the season. Mauro Forghieri encapsulates the experience in his memoirs, stating that “the 312 P from 1971 is among the three cars that provided me with the greatest contentment”. It is noteworthy as the initial open sports prototype with a flat V12 engine. The subsequent season saw Ferrari utilize a three-car team in almost every World Championship round, with the only exception being the withdrawal of the entries for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The first effort, first place
Chassis 0886 is one of the initial entries in the realm of motorsport. The two-seater, now dubbed as the 312 PB, claimed a dual victory in the inaugural brand world championship in Buenos Aires, which marked the first-ever open-top triumph in the said event. In the initial race of the World Championship after the ban on five-liter sports cars like the Ferrari 512 and the Porsche 917, rookie drivers Ronnie Peterson and Tim Schenken emerged victorious in the opening round, besting Clay Regazzoni and Brian Redman.
The triumph was sealed by the championship-winning car of Argentina bearing the identification number 0886. In 1972, the Swedish-Australian tandem conquered the 1000-kilometer race at the Nürburgring, bringing home a second World Championship title, having competed in four races that year with four podium finishes, an exceptional feat.
Nonetheless, Ferrari’s dominance in the 1972 season came effortlessly, owing to the manufacturing of a superb automobile by the Scuderia from Maranello. However, a worthy opponent was conspicuously absent. Matra-Simca was focused on Le Mans, Alfa Romeo, the leading Ferrari contender in the world championship was yet to commence operations on its V12 engine, and Porsche’s success was now reliant on private teams such as Reinhold Joest, among others. Lola representative Jo Bonnier and the Gulf-colored Mirage depended on the vibration-friendly Cosworth V8 engine, which, however, was found to be unsuitable for long-distance travel.
The five-year drought was terminated by Ferrari’s first world title win in 1972, which superseded all surrounding circumstances. The last title was acquired in 1967, with the 330 P4. Subsequently, the Scuderia managed only one race victory, which was with the 512 S in Sebring in 1970, as the defending world champion Porsche made an error. Things did not go any better in Formula 1 either. The last Grand Prix victory was achieved by Jacky Ickx in Rouen in July 1968, and the last title (drivers and designers) was even won in 1964. The success in the sports car season was timely.
In 1973, the goal was to defend the title. Matra-Simca was a potent opponent in the world championship that year. Ferrari kept the title contention open until the end of the season with the 312 PB (V12 with a shorter stroke, longer wheelbase, and improved body) developed further by the designers led by Giacomo Caliri. However, the final in Buenos Aires was canceled. Due to the smaller number of World Championship races, only the best results from a total of seven races were counted, and Ferrari fell short by nine points against Matra-Simca.
The 312 PB’s career concluded when the factory team left at the end of 1973, and Enzo Ferrari concentrated on Formula 1. However, chassis 0886 remained in the sacred halls of the Scuderia until July 1975. Then this triumphant racing car was sold to the American Harley Cluxton, at that time for a relatively meager 40,500 US dollars. Since then, the 312 PB had several owners, including the longtime Wal-Mart CEO S. Robson Walton and Irvine Laidlaw, one of Britain’s wealthiest and former members of the House of Lords.
In 2010, the Ferrari 312 PB found its domicile with a collector and dealer situated in the southern regions of France. However, it is now once again obtainable; although, with a significant surge in its assessed value, the auction house forecasts a price range of 14 to 18 million euros (15.5 to 20 million US dollars).
Naturally, this exorbitant valuation encompasses an extensive spare bundle, which incorporates the original powertrain. The V12 engine boasting approximately 450 horsepower, and sporting a 180-degree bank angle, was a subdued version of Scuderia’s Formula 1 engine of that period, rendering it exceedingly precious for present-day further utilization.
To summarize, on the 20th of May 2023, RM Sotheby’s will be auctioning off the Ferrari 312 PB, renowned as the brand’s most accomplished race car. This sporty prototype commands an extravagant price tag, and is anticipated to become one of the most valuable auction cars of the season.