Ferrari 330 P4
The 330 P4 is one of the most charismatic cars in the history of Ferrari. It was one of the protagonists of the "Race of the Century", the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1967 and although he lost the challenge for the MK4 of rival Ford, it remains in the collective memory as one of the most beautiful cars ever made.
It was designed as an evolution of its predecessor, the 330 P3, with the aim of countering the dominance of Ford in endurance races and win its main race, at La Sartre.
To do so, Ferrari's technical team, led by young Mauro Forghieri retained the tubular chassis and the slender bodywork of the P3, only modified in the longer front to improve the aerodynamics. The mechanics changed substantially with the adoption of a new 4 liter, 12 cylinders in V engine, with 4 camshafts head who ran the 36 valves and delivered a power of 450 hp at 8,200 rpm. The ZF gearbox of the P3 was replaced by a new one, also with 5 speeds, but constructed in Ferrari.
For the new prototype the Scuderia needed bigger tires, and specific rims where commissioned to Campagnolo, with a five-pointed star design which was then used in production vehicles from Ferrari.
When I did the drawings of the P4, I remembered to complement the work with an interview with its creator.
Mauro Forghieri was born in the car milieu. His father worked for Ferrari and after a graduation in Mechanical Engineering, he came naturally and with only 24 years of age, to work on the technical department of the Scuderia. The next year, following the departure of Carlo Chiti to found the ATS, the young Forghieri assumed the technical direction of the team.
The year was 1961 and since then up to 84, with only the exception of 1973, he was responsible for all sports projects from Maranello car manufacturer. In 1985 he was invited to head the Department of Advanced Projects of Ferrari, from which he left, after two years of dissatisfaction by their remoteness from the race tracks, to head the Lamborghini Engineering.
It was precisely in the Motorhome of Lamborghini, at the Estoril Circuit paddock, that we talked, in 1990, about the project 330 P4.
Article by António Eiras - 21/12/2014
AE: - Mr. Forghieri, what do you remember of the Ferrari P4?
MF: - In my opinion it was one of the best cars that Ferrari made. It was a real competition car and with an engine of only 4 liters competed with cars with 8 liter engines! It was a car that gave great satisfaction to Ferrari. One of the best compliments I've had came from Willi Mairesse, who contested the 24 Hours of Le Mans with us (and finished third) and told me at the end of the race: "Mauro, this was the best car I ever drove in my entire life".
AE: - It was a car designed in a very different reality from today. How was the working methodology at that time?
MF: - It was a very different time of the current on an economic point of view, but the working method was the same. We designed this car after an intense work in the wind tunnel, which provided aerodynamic data that we've collected with other parameters such as weight and consumption. To do it we used the Pininfarina wind tunnel and the one of the University of Stuttgart, which didn’t belonged to Mercedes, by that time. Those cars were very different from modern cars because the suspensions were essential for its balance and efficiency, since they had little aerodynamic loads, when cornering. Those cars that had to be driven as fast as possible in Le Mans and therefore had the least negative lift, hence the importance of the suspensions. That car had a very fine bodywork and it was very stable and versatile. It did Daytona, Monza, Spa, Targa Florio, Le Mans and Brands Hatch without major modifications and without problems of adaptability to the circuits. And always fighting for victory! The single car which turned out faster than the P4 was Jim Hall’s Chaparral 2F, which, however, was equipped with a 8 liters engine!
AE: - Did the P4 appear as an evolution of the 330 P3?
MF: - Yes, it was an evolution of P3, which had given good results, but not entirely satisfactory (ed: blame of the inappropriate gearbox and of the strikes that inevitably delayed the development of the car). We modified all that was bad in that car and we were lucky to enhance everything that we've changed: gearbox, power, aerodynamics, brakes, chassis rigidity and weight.
AE: - Except for the engine, the whole car was designed under your responsibility?
MF: - I drove the Ferrari technical office that designed and constructed the P4. We had many men working on the project, but I put too much of myself in that car, because where my ideas that I passed to the technical office.
AE: - Do you remember how it was defined the beautiful body of P4?
MF: - We chose a type of bodywork that was the Dino 206 one and, after long hours of studies and experiments in the wind tunnel, we reached the form that we used in the P4.
AE: - Do you recall if it was a car with youth problems?
MF: - We have made the first tests throughout the winter in Daytona and the car was good from the start. There were only minor corrections to make. We came back home and improved the car. When we returned to Daytona we won the race. No major problems!
AE: - What defects would you point to the P4?
MF: - The main problem might have been a lack of improvement of the body, from the standpoint of reliability and tightness. Small defects derived from the fact that we have built so few copies of P4 (only three, plus one P3/4). When we make a prototype there are a number of details that we cannot fix.
AE: - Of all the drivers who drove the P4, which seems to you that was best suited to this car?
MF: - It was a car so easy to drive (it was not a Formula 1!) that I think that all of those who drove it, did that easily and at will.
AE: - Who, in your opinion, was its best test driver?
MF: - It was Chris Amon, who spent much more time driving the P4 than everyone else.
AE: - How could you take time to design and monitor the races of Sport-Prototypes and Formula 1?
MF: - At this time the Scuderia Ferrari did the Sport-Prototypes competition in the first part of the year and only Formula 1 in the second. And in the first part of the year we were never competitive in Formula 1 because we were concentrated on the Sport-Prototypes. It was imperative to do this to earn money, because not only we sold the Ferrari prototypes, but also and especially because we were paid by the organizers to run against Ford!
AE: - About the 24 Hours of Le Mans of 1967 do you think that it was a mistake not to have attacked Ford from the beginning?
MF: - We were from 1 o’clock to 6 am without Press-Release from IBM. We didn’t receive it and when we asked for it, they didn’t have it. I do not know why. They said they had problems with computers ... And, at 6 am, we discovered that we were four laps behind! It was too late. Overnight Ludovico Scarfiotti has not been well, with an intestinal disorder. So Mike Parkes had to make three turns before Scarfiotti could go driving. On the other hand, as we did not know what was going on, we did not attacked. It was a very strange thing. And I remember that it happened the only case in which it was allowed to Ford and to them alone, to perform tests on Saturday morning before the start of the race, in order to qualify drivers to those 24 Hours of Le Mans. This situation affected us a lot. As at 9 am on Sunday, they (Ford) kept running by applying masking tape on the bodywork, when, by regulation, the car must be intact. Now, bodywork covered by tape could not be intact! I complained to the organizers and they answered me: "You know Mauro, money is what makes the war ..."
AE: - Despite the defeat at La Sartre, the 330 P4 won for the Scuderia the World Championship of Sport of 1967 and is Ferrari's most sought after by collectors. Was it your best project?
MF: - For the time yes. After that we did the 312B and 312T, which were technically superior cars, but in a different time and cannot be compared. So, hopefully the next one will be better, much better!
Such was the conversation with "Furia" *. I returned to find him about a year later, in the Orangery of the Palace of Versailles, in the presentation dinner of the Bugatti EB110 to the public of Paris. But that's another story.
* Nickname of the impulsive Italian engineer given by the tiffosi.