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‘This is the prettiest car i have ever snapped’ said Dick Simpson. Hard to argue…

This is one of four Ferrari P4’s built; chassis numbers ‘0856’, ‘0858’, ‘0860’ and ‘0846’ the latter a converted P3.

At the end of the 1967 endurance season two of the cars were lightened and modified to run in the ’67 CanAm Series in the US. Chassis ‘0860’ and ‘0858’, the latter was then acquired by ‘Scuderia Veloces’ David McKay for one fabulous season in Australia. I wrote an article a while back about Scuderia Veloce, David McKay and his 250LM ‘6321’, have a read of it rather than repeat the background here.

https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

Simpsons’ shot is of Aussie Bill Brown at the wheel on 5 May 1968, the shot taken at the left hander after Warwick Farms’ (Sydney) ‘Shell Bridge’, it captures the curvaceous beauty of the thing!

The photographers and their artistry inspired this article…acknowledgement of them all but especially Dick Simpson, John Ellacott, Roderick MacKenzie, Ellis French and Lindsay Ross.

le mans 67 start

As Mike Spence buckles up his seatbelt in the Chaparral 2F Chev, he is surrounded by FoMoCo vehicles; #1 the victorious Gurney/Foyt, #3 Bianchi/Andretti and Hulme/Ruby Mk4’s, and the #5 Gardner/McCluskey and Schlesser/Ligier Mk2’s…not a Ferrari in sight! (Unattributed)

1967 was a halcyon year of sports car racing, the high point of the ‘Unlimited Formula’…a 5 litre limit for sports cars and 3 litres for prototypes was imposed by the FIA for 1968 so Ford had 1 more year to race their 7 litre Mk 2 and 4’s.

Chaparral returned to Europe with the fabulous 2F Coupe after an exploratory endurance year with the 2D in 1966, Lola competitors struggled with engine reliability to match the excellence of the chassis and Ferrari returned with 4 litre engines but with 3 valve heads after a year of austerity in 1966. Ferrari mainly entered 1 P3 at each race also coping with widespread industrial unrest in Italy that year.

The season wasn’t all about just the big 3; Alfa raced their T33, Porsche the 907, Matra their M630 V8 BRM engined cars, but in reality the seaon was about the big outright cars, an unforgettable year of sports car racing arguably caused by Enzos’ rebuff of Fords’ desire to purchase the Italian autocrats’ company 5 years before and the Lola GT/Ford GT40 program which followed.

The Ford Mk4 incorporated all the learnings of the company, the early failures of the GT40 and Mark 2 in 1964/5 and the triumph at Le Mans in 1966, Kiwis’ Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon ‘winning’ over the Ken Miles/Denny Hulme Mark 2 in the farcical ‘Form Finish’.

The Mark 4 was of aluminium honeycomb construction and had much more advanced aerodynamics than the Mk 2 developed from extensive testing of many variations of shapes to get the appropriate mix of top speed/downforce. The mechanical package was largely carried over and incorporated a 7 litre OHV Ford V8 fed by 2 four-barrel Holley carburettors giving circa 530bhp@6200rpm. The 4 speed Kar Kraft gearbox was again used after experiments with a 2 speed auto. Weight was circa 1100Kg.

All of the major contenders suspension layouts were similar; upper and lower wishbones at front with coil spring/damper units and adjustable roll bars. And at the rear, single top link, twin radius rods, lower wishbone, coil spring/damper units and adjustable sway bars.

All 3 cars also had rack and pinion stering, and of course cast iron disc brakes at front and rear.

 

ford mk 4

The Chaparral 2F Chev was the most exotic of the three cars despite its pushrod OHV 7 litre Chev V8. Fed by 4 58mm Weber down-draught carburettors, the engine developed 575 bhp@7500rpm. The chassis was made of fibre-glass, weighed 793Kg dry, the advanced specification extending to its 3 speed General Motors automatic transmission and advanced aerodynamics including distinctive high rear wing. The Texans had incorporated all they learned on their European campaign in 1966 with the 2D

 

chapp 2f
The P4’s ‘Aero’ chassis had slightly wider tracks than its P3 forebear and was the result of evolution over previous seasons, Ferraris’ first mid-engined sports car was the V6 engined 246SP of 1961. Doug Nye records that chassis ‘0796’ was cut up and lengthened slightly to accomodate a 2 cam 3 litre Testa Rossa engine, the 1963 Le Mans winning 250P evolved from this successful prototype. So too did the 1965 Le Mans winning 250LM, essentially a 250P with a roof and 3.3 litre engine, making it, in the eyes of many the 275LM…

The 3.3 litre 2 cam 275P followed in 1964, 275P2 and 4 litre 4 cam 330P2 in 1965. The P2’s departed from earlier Ferrari space-frame practice by utilisation of the ‘aero’ tube-frame semi-monocoque structure whereby the frame is stiffened by rivetted sheet steel panelling. The model range is more complex than this as it also includes different engine/chassis combinations for customers, i will stick to the works cars for the purpose of this article.

The 4 litre P3 followed in 1966 with much improved suspension geometry to address inadequate camber control and to suit the latest generation of ever widening tyres. The 4 litre engine, adapted for Lucas fuel injection developed circa 420bhp@8000rpm. As outlined above, Ferrari’s 1966 season was impacted by industrial problems in Italy as well as John Surtees midseason departure which impacted both the sports car program and probably the World F1 Titles which were theirs to take with an ace at the wheel. And some luck with reliability.

The stiffness of the chassis was improved as Nye describes ‘…previous P series Ferraris had carried their engines on four simple mounts plus plus two for the gearbox, the new P4 engine featured a stiffer crankcase and could be mounted as a semi-stressed structural member, picking up on four carefully triangulated mounts at the front, two each side and four at the rear.’

The engine, the block stressed as above, featured the 3 valves per cylinder (2 inlet and 1 exhaust with the inlets between the 2 camshafts of each bank) layout developed by Franco Rocchi in late 1966, as developed for the F1 cars. There were 2 plugs per cylinder still fired by good old fashioned coils, 4 of them. Lucas fuel injection fed the fuel. The engines capacity was 3967cc and developed 450bhp @ 8000 rpm.

Also new was a 5 speed gearbox made by Ferrari to replace the earlier ZF unit, the ZF5DS25 units as used in the Ford GT’s had been unreliable in 1966. Weight was 965Kg.

Firestone replaced Dunlop as the teams tyre supplier.

And so the scene was set…the prototype completed 580 laps at Firestone tyre tests at Daytona in December 1966, Amon the quickest ahead of Parkes, Bandini and Scarfiotti, the P4 timed at 338kmh along the back straight.

Quick, but as it was to transpire, not quick enough.

fazz p 4 cutaway

1967 Endurance Season…

p4 monza

The Parkes/Scarfiotti P4 ‘0858’ passes the # 18 Casoni/Martini Ferrari Dino 206S, pursued by the Mike Spence/Phil Hill Chaparral 2F Chev, DNF with driveshaft failure. ‘0858’ 2nd, the win taken by Bandini/Amon in another P4 ‘0856’. (Unattributed)

In the first race of the season, at Daytona the new car was immediately successful leading the race from the 4th hour and taking the first 2 places, Amon/Bandini ahead of Scarfiotti/Parkes and a modified P3/4 entered by Luigi Chinettis’ NART . All the 7 litre Fords retired or were delayed by maladies.

The Scuderia did not enter Sebring, but Amon and Bandini won again at Monza with Scarfiotti and Parkes second, the factory Fords did not enter the race.With practice laps only three-tenths of a second apart, Bandinis’ Ferrari and Spences’ Chaparral raced wheel to wheel from the off.

Spence retired early leaving Ferrari the rest of the race. Bandini took the lead with Scarfiotti in second in ‘0858’, Rodriguez third for NART and Vaccarella in the Filipinetti car in fourth. Ferrari’s four-litre prototypes now dominated the first four positions. A failed attempt by Rodriguez at overtaking the second-place works Ferrari resulted in his retirement. ( Note that RM Auctions in their sale dossier of the car several years ago claim Bandini and Amon won driving ‘0858’,  other independent sources say ‘0858’ finished 2nd)

spa p4

Parkes and Scarfiotti 5th and best of the P4s at Spa in ‘0858’. Ickx won in a Mirage M1 Ford. (L’Automobile)

At Spa, ‘Rainmaster’ Ickx prevailed in John Wyers 5.7 litre Mirage Ford, Scarfiotti and Parkes could do no better than 5th in ‘0858’.

Vaccarella crashed out of the Targa lead in his P4 at Collesano, his home town…

And then came Le Mans.

As noted above this was the last Le Mans run under the unlimited formula…Ford won the previous year but at Daytona they were well and truly beaten by the P4’s.Ferrari missed the Nurburgring 1000Km to be better prepared for La Sarthe 3 P4’s were entered by the factory the 4th an Ecurie Francorchamps entry.

The big V8’s had the legs in practice as proved to be the case in the race.

The Scarfiotti/Parkes P4 ‘0858’ was never far behind. A crash eliminated 3 Fords, the Mairesse/Beurlys P4 moved into 3rd with the works cars chasing the leading Ford Mk4 of Dan Gurney and AJ Foyt. That vastly experienced pair drove a superb race taking Fords 2nd Le Mans. Nye noted ‘…the race was decided on the Mulsanne. All the 7 litre Fords topped 320kmh. The 330P4 could not better 310kmh, and the poorer breathing of the 24 valve 412P’s left them gasping, slower still’.

The works  Ferrari finished 4 laps behind, the 1st Ford and 2nd and 3rd placed (Mairesse/Beurlys) Ferraris covered a distance unprecedented at Le Mans.

Mike Parkes said to journalist/Le Mans Winner Paul Frere after the race ‘Never in my life have I driven a car so hard for so long’.

le mans 67

‘0858’ on the way to 2nd place at Le Mans in the hands of Ludovico Scarfiotti and Mike Parkes albeit 4 laps behind the winning 7 litre Ford Mk4 of Dan Gurney and AJ Foyt. (Unattributed)

The Brands Hatch ‘BOAC International 500′ was the final race of the endurance season and was to determine the championship for the year. Jackie Stewart joined Chris Amon in the works team to bolster the Ferraris’ chances, Mike Parkes having badly injured his legs in an F1 crash at Spa.

Both chassis ‘0858’ and ‘0860’ had been converted to  Spiders by the factory, removal of the roof and lightening the body saving around 40Kg in weight. (Two independent sources claim ‘0858’ was driven by Jonathon Williams and Paul Hawkins to 6th in this race, and that Amon/Stewart raced ‘0860’ to 2nd)

The race started at noon on Sunday under grey skies. John Surtees took an initial lead before Paul Hawkins replaced him in the third of the P4s. After the first hour, Stewart had Spences’ Chaparral in his sights. Scarfiotti was behind him in another P4, followed by the Swiss Jo Siffert in a Porsche 908. With regular driver changes and pit stops, the running order was continually evolving over the ensuing four hours. In the final hour, Amon was second.

With ten minutes to go, Stewart took the wheel, held the position and finished the race, securing the Manufacturers’ Championship for Ferrari, its 12th, defeating Porsche. Mike Spence won the race, the Chaparral finally taking a long promised win.

350 can am front

Factory CanAm 350 3/4 front . (Ferrari)

From P4 to Can Am 350…

With the Endurance Season over and regulation changes precluding the cars competition in the 1968 Endurance Championship the factory modified two of the P4’s; ‘0858’ and ‘0860’ to better compete in the Can Am Championship by lightening and modifying the cars, naming them ‘350 Can Am’ to contest the prestigious series in their most important market.

The cars were lightened considerably by becoming curvaceous Spiders instead of more curvaceous Coupes! Weight was reduced from 792Kg wet to 700Kg wet.

The engines capacity was increased to 4176cc raising the engines power to 480bhp@8500rpm, the cars mechanical specification is as described above otherwise.

Fundamentally it was not enough.

fazz

Its 1 September 1967, Brit Jonathon Williams is about to test an F1 Ferrari 312 for the first time at Modena. In the background is one of the P4/CanAm 350’s, still with headlights fitted, also on William’s menu for the day. Lucky boy. The first CanAm round was at Road America on 3 Sept, the CanAm 350’s first raced at Laguna Seca in William’s/Amon’s hands on 15 October, there was much work to be done yet! (Pete Coltrin)

Bruce McLaren had been contesting sports car races in the US since his Cooper days in the early 1960’s, his first M1 McLarens were quick cars hampered by light but not powerful enough aluminium Oldsmobile engines. For 1967, he and Robin Herd designed and built the monocoque M6 powered by 5.9 litre, circa 525bhp iron Chev V8’s and rewrote the record book in terms of dominance of this series.

‘The Bruce and Denny Show’ of the following years was underway, the Ferraris’ contested the series entered by ‘Harrahs Casino’ also Ferrari distributors, were comprehensively blown off…along with the rest of the grid.

350 can am rear

Factory 350 CanAm ‘butt shot’. Absence of lights clear in the weight saving process. Ferrari ‘box in P4 replaced problemmatic ZF unit of P3…gorgeous if not as much so as P4 parent! (Ferrari)

can am vegas 1967

McLarens’ papaya M6A Chev looms in Jim Halls’ Chaparral 2G Chev mirrors. #21 is Parnelli Jones Lola T70 Ford and Dan Gurneys’ partially obscured Lola T70Mk3b Chev, ALL DNF! Race won by Surtees Lola T70Mk3b Chev. (Unattributed)

‘0858’ From the US to Australia via Italy…

David McKay had raced his 250LM ‘6321’ in Australia since 1965 but the car was getting older and ‘she was often racing out of class and racing against pure prototypes…During a visit to Maranello I broached the subject with Mike Parkes and the factory’s General Manager Ermano Della Casa. I had seen the P4’s at Le Mans in 1967 where Mike and Scarfiotti had finished a gallant second to Fords’ 7 litre steam roller and had fallen in love with the car’.

‘To me it typified all the art, beauty and grace of the old world pitted amongst the brashness and might of the new…In due course I received word that I could buy ‘0858’ for the considerable sum of US$30000.

riverside 67

Riverside CanAm 1967. #12 Roger McCluskey Lola T70 Chev, #27 Williams Ferrari Can Am 350, #19 Bill Amick McLaren M1C Chev, Jerry Entin McLaren M1C Chev. (Unattributed)

The car which raced unsuccessfully in the States at Laguna Seca, Riverside and Las Vegas would be fully rebuilt and shipped to Sydney by Christmas 1967. This would be in good time for the Australian Tasman Races where Amon would conduct it and surely set a cat amongst the pigeons…’

Chris Amon raced a Ferrari 246T looked after by McKays Scuderia Veloce during the Tasman Rounds that summer and in 1969, the year in which he was Tasman Champion.

McKay ‘The less charitable said the factory wanted the car as far away as possible so that they could forget the ignominy of the CanAm venture. The car had managed a 5th at Laguna Seca, 8th at Riverside and a DNF at Las Vegas with Amon who had surely wrung everything out of it’.

Note that some sources say Jonathon Williams raced ‘0858’ and Amon ‘0860’ in the Series, another source suggests Amon raced the car twice, at Laguna Seca and Riverside and by Williams at the final round at Las Vegas. Australian ‘Sports Car World’ magazine in a feature about the car published 1985 says that who drove which car cannot be accurately determined.

Take your pick…i am inclined to either uncertainty, or, I imagine Amon would have related directly to McKay at the time which car he drove, and by the time McKay wrote his autobiography he had no vested interest in the car his financial investment in it having ended in 1968, vendors or their agents and their claims should be treated with the Caveat Emptor dictum in mind…).

riverside 67 2

The 2 350 CanAms’ at rest, Riverside paddock 1967. #23 Amon #27 Williams 8th and DNF…’0858′ and ‘0860’ or…’0860′ and ‘0858’ take your guess. (Unattributed)

amon riverside

Chris Amon using the big twelves horsepower to good effect at Riverside 1967, 8th. All the drivers who raced the P4 commented on how sweet the chassis was. (Unattributed)

McKay ‘This should have turned me off but I comforted myself with the thought that there were no 8 litre McLarens in Australia and certainly no Bruce or Denny to worry us.

Alas, it only required a local in his own device powered with a local 4.4 litre V8 to unravel our dream. (Frank Matich in his Matich SR3 Repco 4.4V8).’

In fact the performance of Frank Matich in his self built car should not have been a surprise to either McKay or Amon.

Matich had contested most of the 1967 Can Am season, including the 3 events in which Amon participated and was also flogged by the McLarens, Matich didn’t finish a race in fact…but the Sydney built, space-frame chassis, 400 bhp Repco 4.4 litre V8 engined Matich was slightly quicker than the 350 Can Am and ‘match fit’ after a tough season in the US.

The Ferrari was not to have it easy in Australia.

matich riverside

Frank Matich, wife Joan his team and Firestone technicians on the pit apron at Riverside, 1967 CanAm. Grid 20 DNF accident. Matich SR3 Repco; space-frame chassis car powered by Repco ‘620 Series’ 4.4 litre SOHC V8 400bhp@7000rpm. Surtees Lola T70Mk3B Chev behind. (Unattributed)

Again David McKay picks up the story ‘As starting money was imperative for such an expensive undertaking I sounded out all the major circuits. All were enthusiastic and all promised to pay a modest enough $350 a start. It goes without saying that when Geoff Sykes (Warwick Farm boss) set the standard, a ‘yes’ on the phone was sufficient to seal the agreement’.

‘There was great excitement at the wharf when the open crate carrying the plastic wrapped P4 was lowered over the liners side. There were a couple more huge wooden crates I hadn’t expected. These turned out to be another engine, gearbox, transaxle, suspensions, disc brakes, all manner of rose joints and sixteen wheels-in reality a second P4 apart from the simple tube-chassis and the brief, skimpy fibre-glass bodywork. That US$30000 was immediately halved in our minds and much of my initial disappointment at seeing the rather unattractive Can Am bodywork evaporated’.

Ferrari_330_P4_68_01

‘0858’ shortly after its arrival in Sydney at SV’s workshop, Wahroonga. (WOT)

‘Engineer Bob Atkin and I were keen to get the crate and boxes home to Wahroonga to prod the beast into life. This we did and again I felt disappointment. Where was the distinctive wail I heard in the cold air at Le Mans? It was now deeper, throatier but somehow more common, less exciting.

Unfortunately I never felt any warmth for the P4, certainly not its fault for the car was out of its milieu, away from the understanding hands which cared for it and probably thinking it was back in that coarse country, America, of which it had nothing but bad dreams.

I hoped a reunion with Amon would be beneficial but Chris was more involved with his Tasman Dino and his forthcoming battle with Clark and Hill in their Lotus 49 Ford DFW’s.’

clark and amon

Jim Clark, Chris Amon and their respective mechanics share a joke around Chris’ Ferrari 246T at Longford, March 1968. Clark won the series in his Lotus 49 DFW, Piers Courage the race in a gutsy wet weather drive in his McLaren M4A FVA F2 car. Clark 5th and Amon 7th. Clark killed that April and Amon returned to take the 1969 Tasman Championship…the P4 by then sold. (oldracephotos)

mc kay and amon

‘Don’t pick your nails Chris!’ Amon and McKay in the cockpit of ‘0858’ at Sandown, Melbourne, February 1968. Mckay first assisted Amon in the 1963 International Series, Amon driving the SV Cooper T53 Climax. (Roderick MacKenzie)

sv at WF

Scuderia Veloce Team at Warwick Farm 1968; 250LM ‘6321’, Brabham BT23A ‘1’ Repco and the P4/CanAm 350 ‘0858’. This shot was taken at the 18 February Tasman Meeting, 250LM i am guessing was not raced, Greg Cusack in the Brabham DNF in the Tasman race won by Clarks’ Lotus 49 DFW, Amon raced the P4. (David McKays’ Scuderia Veloce)

Australian Race Record of ‘0858’…

Ray Bell was a journalist for ‘Racing Car News’ magazine in the 1960 and 1970’s, he wrote evocatively about the cars race record on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ in 2002…

surfers p4

Amon gets the drop from Matich in the SR3, Surfers Paradise, February 1968. Ordinary crowd numbers, surf up at Main Beach maybe? (wolseley680)

‘The first race for the car in Australia was February 10 at Surfers Paradise. It was the Saturday and it was clear that there were some shocks headed for the lap record after Matich recorded 1:10.2 in practice.

Matich dudded the start, however, but scorched around to be the first to take the lap record over the 100mph mark with a 1:10.6 (101.98mph) to Amon’s 1:10.7, reeling the Ferrari in after four laps and diving under it when a slower car baulked Amon.

Two more 5-lappers were scheduled for Sunday, with Matich and his 4.4-litre tube-framed SR3 leading away and getting a full second advantage on the first lap. The record was equalled as he took another win. In the second, Amon was a non-starter.

surfers start

Rod MacKenzies’ shot of the Surfers race 1 start from a different angle. ‘Spare tyre’ on Ferrari mandated by dopey Australian sports car rules of the day. The Matich carries its spare under the drivers ‘screen’. Beefy spoiler on the SR3, its ’68 the ‘Year of Wings’

ellacott p4 wf

Superb John Ellacott shot of Chris Amon looking as relaxed as he can be with Frank Matich ‘up his clacker’! Homestead Corner Warwick Farm, February 1968. (John Ellacott)

A week later at Warwick Farm came the race I speak of so often. The report says Matich ‘left the Ferrari breathless…’ as he led Amon a merry chase. That they came past us side by side, with a Tojiero between them being lapped and grass clippings flying on one lap in the race shows that it wasn’t all that breathless!

Again, Matich was pressed to a new circuit record (these are outright records, faster than the Lotus 49s and the Amon Dino managed on the day) of 1:28.5 in staving off the Ferrari. Amon retired with reported ignition trouble on lap 7 or 8.(McKay advised the ignition leads were plucked off one bank of cylinders having been taped carefully out of reach of a half-shaft)

Check out the YouTube footage of this race…

wf start

WF start. Both Matich #1 Matich SR3 Repco and Niel Allen in the white Elfin 400 Chev get the jump on Amons Fazz at the start. WF a horse racing facility still, ceased as an International car race venue after the ’73 Tasman Series. (Wirra)

sandown p4

Amon leads Matich into Shell Corner, lap 1 , Sandown Tasman Round Sports Car race, 25 February 1968. car with white stripe down the nose at left the Bob Jane Racing Elfin 400 Repco. (Rod MacKenzie)

The opening gambit of the Sandown Park report, the next week (February 25), was ‘This was the first time the Sandown crowd has had a chance to see Frank Matich really trying. The reason was, of course, that he had Chris Amon and the P4 Ferrari to worry him.’

Matich bogged down at the start (‘nearly burned a hole in the startline with wheelspin…’) and Chris led away, but after a lap or two ‘braking late for Peters, Frank closed on Chris and went under him as they accelerated out onto Peters (the back straight).’ Matich won by four seconds, took the Sports Car record down to 1:07.2 (Clark nobbled the outright record in the Australian GP on the same day with a 1:07.1) and Matich bowed out of any further contests. He wasn’t happy to go to Longford.

sr3 sandown

Matich SR3 Repco in the Sandown Park paddock. (Mike Feisst Collection/The Roaring Season)

longford

‘Longford March 1968. The wet Monday morning after Amon set off a lap down on the field after battery failure on the grid. The road was wet from the first shower of the day that turned into a deluge later for the Tasman race (won by Piers Courage in his F2 McLaren M4A FVA). The overcast conditions, wet road and river in the background combine to give perfect lighting to highlight the car. Location is coming off Kings Bridge, shot taken from the old Longford pumphouse station. The 1880’s railway bridge is in the background’ So said ‘austmcreg’ on The Nostalgia Forum, photo credit Jim and Pat Smith. Amazing shot and commentary!

There, Longford, of course, Amon had the fastest time ever through the trap on the flying mile and lapped at 2:14.4 in practice to easily take pole. In the Saturday race Amon set a new outright lap record of 2:12.6, four tenths quicker than Clark had done in the earlier preliminary event for the Tasman cars in the 49. This was 12.2 seconds better than the previous record, held by Bob Jane.(Elfin 400 Repco 4.4)

At that stage, it was only reasonable to conclude that Amon wouldn’t hold the record over the whole weekend, but the heavens opened and deluged the circuit for Monday, his P4 suffered a battery failure (McKay wrote that mechanic Bob Atkin simply overlooked to charge the dry cell Varley battery)  and didn’t even start the soggy sports car race and the openwheelers paddled round with Piers Courages’ McLaren M4A FVA 1.6 taking the win.

longford butt shot

Longford pit counter scene with the curvaceous CanAm 350 centre stage. Both Amon and Bill Brown drove the car at this meeting. Matich did not enter, having safety concerns about the circuit in the SR3. Atmospheric shot taken by Ellis French. Little yellow stickers on Fazz rump say ‘Gatto Verde’, gifts from Alf Francis to David McKay. (Harold Ellis)

In his book, McKay (David McKays autobiography ‘Scuderia Veloce’) describes the torment of choosing a driver for the car for the ensuing year. His choice might have been big ‘Pete’ (Ian) Geoghegan, but there was pressure to give Bill Brown a go. There was also the possibility that Pete’s huge frame might not fit… he was put into the team’s 250LM for the year.

David Mckay again picks up the story ‘After the Tasman Series and Amons departure I decided to put Bill Brown behind the wheel despite certain misgivings. I liked Bill, he was a pleasant, and helpful fellow who could be faster than some but rather more accident prone than others. He damaged the LM rather too frequently through overdriving…Yet I hoped Bill would mature, the red mists would disappear and he would conduct the P4 in accordance with my instructions. I had no illusions he would run with Matich, Amon hadn’t managed to…I had chosen the easy option rather than taking a chance and putting in perhaps the only local who would have given Matich a run for it-Pete Geoghegan.

pete

Here is Pete Geoghegan hustling McKays 250LM ‘6321’ around Bathurst at Easter 1968, in the manner the SV boss liked so much. (Dick Simpson)

Pete was already four times AustralianTouring Car Champion and was sweeping all before him in his Mustang. More important, was his driving of the ‘old red lady’ (McKays 250LM) in which, despite his big weight disadvantage (Pete was a very big lad, morbidly obese, the medicos would describe it) he was re-writing her lap times. Perhaps had I not been so occupied with other events that year, had not been out of the country so much I would have bitten the bullet, asked Bill to step aside and given Pete the hot seat-but could he have fitten into that little space? We’ll never know now but in the light of subsequent events I was wrong and I am sorry Pete…’

Pete Geoghegan in that car would have been worth travelling a very long way to see, a driver of awesome world class ability as McKay alludes to, if you go back into the early days of Petes’ career he drove the Geoghegan family Lotus single seaters and 23B but in essence most of his career was spent in Touring Cars and other cars with roofs

p4 bathurst

Another of Dick Simpsons’ stunning shots. Bill Brown, Mount Panorama, Hell Corner ,Bathurst , Easter 1968. (Dick Simpson)

Ray Bell…’Bathurst was the first outing on April 14 & 15, which I would have thought daunting enough. With wire fences, rough surface, two serious crashes injuring top drivers in the Gold Star event’s practice sessions and all, one might be a little careful in such a fast car.

But Bill was out to show his stuff. The first race was a 3-lapper mixed in with the open-wheelers. Bartlett won that in the Brabham BT23D Alfa with Bill second about 11 seconds adrift and just 1.6 seconds clear of Niel Allen in the Elfin 400 Chev after Allen had spun on the first lap. Bartlett had fastest lap in 2:19.1, Allen did 2:19.4 and Brown 2:21.6. Maybe he was being careful after all…

As the report points out, ‘The last time anyone went really fast on Mt Panorama was back in 1962, when both David McKay and Bib Stillwell equalled Bill Patterson’s flying eighth time of 169.81mph. It has been said often since that it would probably take a sporty car to better it.’

As mentioned above, Brown took the speed up to 181 mph, a big hike, but he was in pursuit of Allen at the time. The Elfin lapped in 2:18.4 but was parked at the top of the mountain when Brown scored his lucky win, with Geoghegan second in the LM, which improved its personal best time from 2:34.2 to 2:30.8 this first time the big fella got into it. Brown lapped in 2:19.6, just shy of the 100mph mark.

Ferrari_330_P4_small

‘0858’ in the Warwick Farm paddock February 1968…the start of ‘wings’ on the front, added since original factory build. (WOT)

brown rac trophy rod mackenzie

Bill Brown in the RAC Trophy, Warwick Farm, May 1968. sand in the throttle slides of the car so DNF. (Roderick MacKenzie)

Warwick Farm’s annual RAC Trophy race was on May 5. This was a prize event on the best circuit. Matich lapped in 1:29 for pole, Allen did 1:32.9, Brown 1:33.0 for the outside of the first row. But the Ferrari managed to get ahead of the Elfin off the line and was second into the first corner and stayed there as Matich built up a lead of about ten seconds over the early laps. Sand got into the throttle slides of the V12 engine, however, and the Ferrari retired to give Allen second spot.

This was the race where Matich ‘unwound a blinder on the last lap just to prove the car was still ‘with it’, chopping 1.2 seconds off his Tasman meeting record and leaving the new time at a staggering 1:27.3′

Ferrari_330_P4_68_02

‘0858’ sans rear bodywork, shot at SV workshop in Sydney. (WOT)

Lakeside on May 12 brought a pair of Scuderia Veloce 1 – 2s, but the opposition had died in the pre-race buildup. Matich cracked the lap record in practice with a 53.7 in his first appearance at the circuit since his crash there in 1965. Allen did a 55.3, Brown a 57.2.

The minor race came first, with Allen scoring a win and Matich fastest lap (55.2, new record anyway) with the Elfin taking the lead from the start as Matich eased away with a sick engine. Matich pitted, but continued, the Repco suffering a loose valve seat, which prevented him getting top horsepower as he nailed it to get that record in the book. Brown finished 1.5 seconds behind Allen and actually lapped two tenths faster at 56.3, both of them under Allen’s old record.

The main event was a twenty-lapper, and in the minutes before the race Matich declared himself a non-starter and Allen trickled back into the pits with a bolt out of the steering. Brown was able to walk it in (best lap 58.4) as Geoghegan showed all his abilities at the helm of the 250LM to fill second ahead of a Lotus 23B. His best lap was 59.3 and he was less than nine seconds behind at the finish.

1968%20SURFERS%20PARADISE%20TASMAN%20FERRARI%20P4%20%20PITS%204_zpsh0acqqx2

‘0858’ cockpit shot taken at Surfers Paradise by Rod MacKenzie. ‘Momo’ steering wheel, Veglia Borletti instruments all very Ferrari ‘period’. Note venting of wheel arch to release air pressure. (Rod MacKenzie)

There was yet another race, an eight-lapper, at the end of the day, with the 2.5 open-wheelers combining with the fastest sports cars. The report doesn’t clearly explain how Allen got to be behind Phil West’s Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT23 Repco, but he was and seemingly couldn’t do anything about it. Btrown won as he liked, scoring another SV 1 – 2 with West second this time.

I would say that West got away best, then the brute force of the bigger engined cars overpowered him, only Allen was stuck behind him as Brown got through to the lead. Anyway, Allen spent the rest of the race back there in a frustrated third, ‘perhaps over-flushed with determination, hounded West in the best showing of brute tactics seen for a long while, the big Elfin almost running over the Brabham into BMC lap after lap as West stopped to look at the view and Brown scampered up over BP. Allen tried to go under into KLG, avoiding disaster by a hair’s breadth, and pushed the Brabham wheel to wheel round the Eastern Loop. This excitement was too much, added to by Geoghegan who forced the 250LM to the front of Scott’s Lotus 27 to fill fourth spot.’

Des White wrote well, didn’t he? He pressed on.. ‘The big battle looked worse as the backmarkers were lapped, disaster being forever imminent as very slow cars found themselves caught up in the 140mph battle between Allen and West, the Elfin being stopped and pointed with a dexterity seldom seen these days. Allen failed to get through, perhaps through trying too hard, and it was disappointing to see him slipstream to the flag. Should the big power of the Elfin have carried it from Shell to the flag first? Maybe, and there been breathing space for the initial build up.” Best lap to Brown, 56.6, Allen did 56.7, West 55.9, winning margin less than two seconds (1.6, actually).

sv surfers

SV lined up on the Surfers dummy grid prior to the Surfers Paradise 6 Hour 1968. L.R; Leo and Pete Geoghegan 250LM which won, Des West/ Bill Reynolds 275 GTB 9th, and Brown/Palmer 350 Can Am DNF accident. (Rod MacKenzie)

Ray Bell, ‘Probably the event dearest to McKay’s heart was the Surfers Paradise 12-hour…

And he had Jim Palmer over from New Zealand to co-drive with Brown. But Palmer wasn’t up to it, lapping over five seconds slower than Brown in practice and wearing himself out in the process. Matich, who was racing quite a lot during this year, even entered the SR3 in this race with Glynn Scott as co-driver (only 2.3 seconds behind Frank’s times), so this car was the pace as the race got going, Brown following it through the field after both started slowly (Le Mans start). Lapping slower cars soon after the start, Brown was pushed off line and ran over some tyre markers on the edge and holed the radiator. The P4 was out…

David McKay saw the race slightly differently ‘…I had asked NZ Champion Jim Palmer to co-drive with Brown. Jim was a fast, safe driver very much in the Spencer Martin mould. I erred by not having Palmer start the race…The field as in the past, was composed of fast and slow open and closed cars and as always the onus is on the overtaking car. A second or 2 lost by backing off the throttle to make sure the tortoise knew he was about to be swamped was sensible driving…Less than 15 minutes into the race, Brown came up behind a Fiat 125 saloon, on the approach to Firestone, a fairly quick left hander. The Fiat driver, unaware Brown was diving down the inside held his line. The P4 had nowhere to go but over the grass and a white tyre marker demolishing the nose and oil cooler…Brown bought the  mortally wounded P4 to a halt in front of our pit’.

Bell, ‘Matich’s Repco engine dropped its bundle very late in the race and Geoghegan and his brother Leo won the race in the Scuderia Veloce 250LM.

That was the end of the P4’s racing in Australia, as far as I can see. Matich was to debut his SR4 with its 5-litre quad-cam engine in November, cementing his position as top dog in the field and enabling him to go on and take more outright records.’

350 south africa

‘0858’ in cigarette company ‘Team Gunston’ colours in Bulawayo, South Africa 1969. Note the car now has lights re-fitted, installed in Australia for the Surfers 6 Hour. (Unattributed)

Sale of ‘0858’ to Paul Hawkins…

Due to an error in paperwork the car was invoiced to McKay rather than in Amons name, bringing forward the impost of import duty, the Customs Department provided extensions of time with the assistance of the Italian Chamber of Commerce who wanted the car to race in the Surfers 6 Hour and form the centre-piece of a trade show in Sydney.

Under pressure to pay the duty, close to 100% of the cars purchase price! or export it McKay put the word out ‘…dear old Paul Hawkins had heard about the car being for sale from Chris Amon at an Oulton Park meeting. I was in the workshop when ‘Hawkeyes’ call came through ‘Is the car for sale?’ ‘Yes’, ‘How much?’ ‘US$30000’. ‘If I buy it will you go me halves in a return ticket to Sydney?’. ‘Yes, ok’. ‘I’ll be there the day after tomorrow’. ‘Ill meet you Paul’

‘Simple and straightforward. Paul was making a name for himself as a successful sports car and GT racer and had been a favourite of Firestone…The car was to be shipped right after the 6 Hour for Paul would drive it in South Africa’s sports car series with tobacco sponsorship and he would win’.

east london 2

350 CanAm in the East London pits, front lights now faired. car won this 500Km race. (royckdboats)

Paul raced the car in South Africa from November 1968 to January 1969 winning the Cape Town 3 Hour, GP of Bulwayo, Pietermaritzburg 3 Hour and the East London 500 Km.

As McKay mentioned above Hawkins was an Australian International plying his trade via his own team and as a ‘hired gun’ by works teams. He was racing a Lola T70 Mk3B Chev during the Tourist Trophy at Oulton Park, his car ending up in the trees, after probable suspension failure, poor Paul dying in the particularly gruesome accident and ensuing fire.

Both Hawkins and Alberto Ascari, the only 2 drivers to ‘Scuba Dive’ at Monaco both died on May 26, in an arcane bit of trivia.

Mike Hailwood raced ‘0858’ at Magny Cours, 1st and Dijon DNF in May.

p4 east london

Gearbox fettling?, prior to the East London event. 4.2 litre DOHC 3 valve per cylinder Lucas fuel injected V12. Ferrari 5 speed ‘box with ZF limited slip diff. Battery of coils clear to see. (royckdboats)

The car was sold in the realisation of the Hawkins Estate, through David Piper, who raced so many mid sixties Sports Ferraris’ of his own, and occasionally as a ‘works driver’ to Alastair Walker who raced the car back in South Africa in November-December 1969 with sometime GP driver Rob Widdows as his co-driver.

The car was uncharacteristacally unreliable, perhaps ‘tired’, ‘0858’ failing to finish the Kyalami 9 Hour, Cape Town and Bulawayo 3 Hour events. ‘0858’ was 2nd at the Lourenco Marques, Mozambique.

In 1971 David Piper bought the car from Walker, still with its extensive inventory of spare parts, enough as McKay states to make a second car less chassis…which is what Piper did. Ferrari provided Piper all the necessary P4 blueprints in 1974, Piper, Nye says ‘had the chassis made by the original people in Modena. Ferrari gave it the number ‘0900’, a serial number also applied to a Chinetti parts built 312P in the US’. Several ‘run-on’ cars have been built by Piper since.

David Piper sold ‘0858’ to US collector Walter Medlin in Florida in 1971, he retained the car until offered for sale via RM Auctions in 2009, the car eventually being restored by Talacrest in the UK, somewhat controversially in the eyes of some to its Spyder/Barchetta specification.

Check out this website in relation to that process which has been supervised by David Piper. http://www.talacrest.com/Latest_News/Talacrest_Ferrari_330_P4_Chassis_No._0858_-_New_Videos/101.htm

At the outset i stated that 4 P4’s were built, 3 P4’s and one converted P3 ‘0846’...In the best traditions of historic racing there are now more P4’s than in period…there are 3 or 4 ‘run-on’ cars built by Pipers concern and ‘0846’, written off by the factory after a crash and fire at Le Mans in 1967 has been reborn, recreated or replicated depending upon your view of it.

If you like a bit of light entertainment look at this exchange between subject matter expert DC Nye and said vehicles’ owner, the fun and games start at about post # 62. http://forums.autosport.com/topic/59074-ferrari-330-p4/page-2

I’m not suggesting the ‘experts’ know it all either.

Lets go out as we came in, with a fabulous shot, this time by Ellis French of Bill Brown, the sun gleaming off ‘0858’ before blasting down the Longford public roads, big V12 howling at 180 miles per hour in February 1968…

brown longford

Etcetera…

amon longford 2

323-K-AMON-68-lo

Bill Brown, who drove the car after Amons’ departure back to Europe also drove the P4/CanAm at Longford ’68 in both practice and a preliminary race. (David Keep)

1968%20WARWICK%20FARM%20TASMAN%20FERRARI%20P4%20REAR_zps2xdk3ahw

That ‘Australian’ spare tyre. Fitted as a consequence of our local sports car regs at the time. SV solution a neat one even if the weight is well outside the cars wheelbase…where else to put it!? Yellow stickers ‘Gatto Verde’ a gift from Alf Francis to McKay, McKay makes mention of it in his autobiography but not actually what the stickers mean/represent. Ideas anyone? (Rod MacKenzie)

amon longford 1

p4 cutaway

Bibliography…

David McKay ‘David McKays Scuderia Veloce’,  Paul Frere ‘Cars in Profile 246SP-330P4 Ferraris’, Doug Nye ‘The Potent P4…A Ferrari Fierce and Fine’ Sports Car World July/Sept 1982

Thanks to Stephen Dalton for the assistance in research material sourcing

Photo Credits…

Dick Simpson, Roderick MacKenzie, John Ellacott, wolseley680, WOT, Jim and Pat Smith, Ellis French, The Roaring Season, David Keep, oldracephotos, royckdboats, Mike Feisst Collection, Pete Coltrin, Harold Ellis

Finito…

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Comments
  1. […] Ferrari P4/CanAm 350 ‘0858’… […]

  2. Hello Mark,
    I collect Ferrari model cars and having recently bought 1/18th scale models of the P4/350 CanAm cars, I was doing some internet research on these cars when I found your great blog on the racing history of 350 #0858. Your blog is so interesting and specific to this particular car that I would like a hard (print) copy for my collection. I would like to ask your kind permission to have my local commercial printer, OfficeMax, print a single copy (qty 1) for my collection. It would be approx 40 single sided 8.5x11in pages that will be spiral bound. Printing it on my small personal printer would deplete all the ink cartridges twice over and still be of rather poor quality. I didn’t see copyright notices on your blogs but I would like to ask for your permission to print a copy of the ferrari-p4canam-350-0858 blog.
    Thank You!
    with Best Regards,
    Dennis

    • markbisset says:

      Sure Dennis, happy to help, just attribute to me/primotipo. If you complete an ‘0858’ model, I would love to see it and will add a photo of it to the article. Regards, mark

      • Dennis says:

        Fantastic! Thank You Mark! That’s great! I’ll try and send you photos of the models via a separate email. I purchased these finished models of ‘0858’ from TRL Models (www.333cars.com). Their quality is superior by far to anything that I could ever build myself.
        Best Regards, Dennis

      • nordenwin@cox.net says:

        Hello Mark, Thank You very much again for your kind permission to print out a copy of your blog. I will make sure that attribution to You/Primotipo is included. Enclosed are pictures of the two ‘0858’ TRL Model (China) (www.333cars.com) models that I have. The pictures are from their website and you might enjoy a look a some of the other 350 P4 CanAm versions that they offer. Best, Dennis

  3. […] Phil Hill never raced again after his ’67 Brands 6 Hour victory, a great way to bow out after such a career of achievement. The 1967 Endurance Season is covered in full in this recent article on the Ferrari P4…https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/ […]

  4. […] In 1968 McKay had pleasure and pain; victory for the LM but defeat of his Ferrari P4/350Can Am car, acquired earlier in the year with the express aim of victory in a race he thought was by then beyond the old LM. For those interested in the P4, click on this link to an article on the full history of this car; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/ […]

  5. Rob says:

    A beautiful article on a beautiful car. Well done.

    It is interesting to read in the caption of the first Team Gunston photo that “the car now has lights re-fitted, installed in Australia for the Surfers 6 Hour.” The presence of headlights on the car is apparent in many of the Australian photos, all of which I believe would have been taken before the 6 Hour. Given that headlights were mandatory on Australian Group A Sports Cars of the day, I would think that the lights would have been re-fitted before it ever raced here.

    • markbisset says:

      Rob , you are right about the light regs in Oz, now I think of it. The only shot here which doesn’t have the lights is the one @ SV’s workshop when it first arrived. So looks like they were fitted in Sydney rather than whilst it was back in Maranello for its pre-trip rebuild. M

  6. Lindsay Ross says:

    Hi Mark, just wanted to correct the credit of the vertical colour pit lane shot at Longford 1968. The “Ellis” in the credit is Harold Ellis rather than Ellis French. Cheers Lindsay ORP

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