P3 chassis number 0844 was made in 1966 and is the first of only three. Ferrari first won Le Mans in 1949. Between 1960 and 1965 Ferrari totally dominated the 24-hour race. Ford had its revenge with wins in 1966/7/8/9 with the 7.0-litre GT40s. After doing battle with Ford, Ferrari had waves of Porsche 917s coming at them. Although Ferrari went on to have countless ‘normal’ race wins, the red cars never won Le Mans again. One of this P3’s race wins was at Spa-Francorchamps in the 1966 Spa 1000Km.
Fitted with a four litre engine, the 330 P proved both quicker and more reliable than the little tested Ford GT.
Sleeker than ever, the P3 featured fiberglass doors. It was the first time the Maranello based team favoured the lightweight material over the aluminum 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 Lovely looking, but now getting outdated, the six Weber carburetors found on the 330 P2 were replaced by a Lucas fuel injection system on the P3’s engine.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 with the second one (s/n 0844) featured here.
The solitary seat is positioned almost in the centre of the car. Typically, the P3 was right-hand drive since this was an advantage on right-hand race circuits and most circuits are clockwise. With such a low roof, the sitting position is reclined giving a large surface area for support and negating the need for padding. A Willans six-point harness clamps you to the car. The tiny Racetech steering wheel removes for easy entry as there is a right-hand gearlever to negotiate. The gearlever has sliding fingers to prevent gate-jumping and a reverse lock-out. First gear is on a dog-leg, left and back. Pedals are offset to the left for wheel arch intrusion. There is also a dead pedal for the left foot. Straight ahead, the tacho red-lines at 7750rpm, flanked by just two smaller instruments for water temp and oil pressure. Ignition and starter button are on the right. On the centre console there are two further instruments for oil temp and amps plus a big oil light and an electric kill-switch.
Despite Ford’s immense budget, Ferrari was reluctant to give up and the first tests with the P3’s replacement were conducted in December of the same year. Apart from some cosmetic changes the most important new part of the P4 was its engine. Still displacing 4 litres, the unit was derived from the 3 litre F1 engine. Main new feature of the engine was the new head, with 3 valves per cylinder, one exhaust and two intake. The Lucas fuel injection was moved from between the cylinder banks to between the camshafts. The engine was rated at 450 bhp at 8200 rpm.
Le Mans 1966 was a battle of the titans. Ford entered no less than eight of the seven-liter GT40 MK IIs. For the first time, three P3s were to be run, two of which were officially NART entries, but for all intents and purposes they were managed by SEFAC Ferrari , the factory team. In the race, Maranello’s squad of P3s paled with the industrial might of Detroit’s eight seven-liter Fords, as did their four-liter engines, nearly half as big.
After 560 test laps at Daytona in December 1966, the P4 was ready for action. Two of the three P3s, including 0844, were fitted with P4 style bodywork and a Weber carbureted engine. Two unfinished 330 P3s were built up to the same specifications and dubbed 412 P. All four cars were sold to privateers, to back up the factory P4 effort. New from Ford at the 1967 24 hours of LeMans was the Mk IV version of the GT40, featuring an American built aluminum-honeycomb monocoque and the familiar 7 litre V8.
Results in the opening races of the season were promising. Piloted by Mike Parkes and respectively John Surtees and Ludovico Scarfiotti the featured P3 won the 1000 km races at Monza and Spa. Luck changed for Ferrari as labor problems at the factory prevented proper preperations for the 24 Hours of LeMans race. Down on development time, none of the P3s made it past the 17th hour of the race. In contrast, Henry Ford had his LeMans victory with a stunning 1-2-3, a feat previously only displayed by ’those fast little red cars’.
Rule changes for 1968 like the new three-liter limit for sports cars left the 330 P3, 330 P4 and 412 P obsolete.