The Ferrari 312PB (officially known as the 312P, but appended with the ’B’ by the media to differentiate it from the ’69 312P) marked the end of an era. It was Ferrari’s last new car developed specifically for sports prototype racing. In the hands of drivers like Mr. Mario Andretti it was a world-beater helping to cement his reputation. The thing is, that as great a racer as he was, other Scuderia Ferrari drivers were similarly successful with the Group 5 car. Drivers Brian Redman and Arturo Merzario each drove the car and combined to win three of the eleven races of the 1972 championship-winning season, a season that saw Ferrari win every race except the 24 Hours of Le Mans (which they sat out due to reliability questions related to the Formula One-derived twelve cylinder).
And reliability issues were the one concern that truly worried Mr. Steven Read before acquiring this endurance legend. He wanted to take it vintage racing but every photo of the 312PB that he found featured about twenty mechanics working on the car simultaneously while it was in the pits. Obviously such an extensive endeavor would have been prohibitive. Perhaps it was the Formula One-based cockpit that attracted him, or the fact that this was one of the last Ferrari sports prototypes of the golden age of racing. Or maybe the 312PB’s racing pedigree, including races at Brands Hatch, Daytona, Nurburgring, and Watkins Glen and the fact that it can pull multiple Gs through corners and keep you motionless in the seat with your hands right where they need to be that convinced him it might be worthwhile. All of these factors probably contributed, but let’s be honest, it had to be that sound!
The Ferrari 312PB is special for another reason too: it was Ferrari’s last sports prototype before they exited sports car racing to focus their efforts solely on Formula One. They put the exclamation point on a long and storied history by winning the championship.