At the end of the 1966 international endurance racing season, Enzo Ferrari was seeing red – and not just the Italian racing red of his Ferrari racers. After a season of going head-to-head against Ford Motor Company in races around the world for the FIA International Prototype Endurance Championship, his nemesis had snatched the Championship from Ferrari by a mere two points. For 1967, Ferrari would need something to remind Ford and the rest of the world that Ferrari was the rightful owner of the trophy. That something – considered by many to be the greatest Ferrari endurance racer – was the Ferrari 330 P4.
The big advancement in the P4 over the previous year’s P3 prototype sat right behind the driver. The 4-liter, double overhead cam V12 engine had been upgraded with a stronger block, 3-valve cylinder heads, and a new fuel injection system, to produce 450 horsepower @8,000 rpm – an increase of 30 horsepower over the P3 engine. The chassis was shortened and widened to improve the handling. Weighing in at only 1,746 pounds, the P4 had a top speed of 210 mph.
The P4’s sleek body was very similar to the P3 of 1966 and from the low, purposeful front end between the highly curved front fenders, past the low slung drivers compartment and the built-in roll bar, to the integrated rear spoiler, the car was at once sensuous and brutally functional. After all, it had been created for the singular purpose of bringing the prototype championship back to Italy.
Ferrari, for the first time in its illustrious history, rented the Daytona track in late 1966 for a week of testing the new prototype. At that time, only two P4s had been completed; Ferrari sent them, along with a P3 modified to accept the new P4 engine (referred to as the P3/4), and the entire racing team, to Daytona for a week of testing. Although the pit area was closed to spectators, some of the grandstands were open to accommodate tourists. Among the “tourists” were several Ford engineers armed with stopwatches, binoculars, and a long-lens camera.
When Saturday, February 4, 1967 rolled around, the two official Ferrari P4 entries, along with a P3/4 Ferrari entered by North American Racing Team (N.A.R.T.), found themselves facing six factory-backed Ford GT prototypes. Throughout the 24 hours, the Ferraris ran like clockwork, while the Ford GTs self-destructed, due to major transmission failures. As the 24 hours ticked down to the end on Sunday, the Ferraris lined up in a 1-2-3 formation finish, achieving some degree of redemption for Ford’s similar finish at Le Mans the previous year. The Fords? All of them dropped out except that of Bruce McLaren and Lucien Bianchi, which finished a distant seventh. All told, the Ferraris led for twenty of the twenty-four hours.
Daytona was only the first step for the P4. After the final FIA endurance race in September, the Ferrari P4 had racked up seven wins and two second places in the nine-race series. There was no longer any doubt that the FIA manufacturers’ prototype cup would be headed back to Maranello, Italy – where, as the Tifosi would say, it belonged.
How Stuff Works: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/ferrari-330-p4.htm
Super Cars: http://www.supercars.net/cars/556.html
Sports Car Digest: http://www.sportscardigest.com/1967-24-hours-of-daytona-race-profile/
The Third Turn: http://www.thethirdturn.com/wiki/1966_24_Hours_of_Daytona
Ultimate Car Pages: http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/708/Ferrari-330-P4.html