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The Ferrari 312T marked the Scuderia’s return to greatness and made Niki Lauda an F1 champion

Published in blog.hemmings.com

1975 Ferrari 312T chassis 022. Photos by Mike Maez, copyright and courtesy of Gooding and Company.

By 1974, it was apparent to Scuderia Ferrari that the handling ills of its 312B3 Formula 1 chassis could not be successfully addressed, and that returning to championship form would require an all-new car. The resultant 312T would dominate the 1975 season, carrying driver Niki Lauda to his first F1 Driver’s Championship and Ferrari to its first Constructor’s Championship since 1964. Chassis 312T 022 helped Lauda capture five pole positions, a win at the French Grand Prix and podiums at two other races, and this August it crosses the auction block in California, part of Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach sale.

The 312T followed Ferrari’s traditional naming convention, denoting an engine that was 3.0-liters (technically, 2992cc) in displacement and used 12 cylinders. The “T” in the car’s name came from its transverse-mounted gearbox, a design implemented to centralize mass and reduce the polar moment of inertia, thus improving handling over its predecessor. As for the Ferrari flat-12 engine, which first appeared during the 1970 season, it was a tried-and-true design that delivered 510 brake horsepower with good overall reliability.

1975 Ferrari 312T

Designed by Mauro Forghieri, development of the 312T began in 1974, and Lauda played a key role in its creation. Despite extensive testing in the off season, the new chassis wasn’t ready at the start of the 1975 F1 calendar, forcing Lauda and teammate Clay Regazzoni to drive the 1974 312B3 in the opening two races. The results mirrored the bulk of the 1974 season, with neither Ferrari driver taking a  pole position or a win in Argentina or Brazil.

The 312T debuted at the 1975 South African Grand Prix, but there were still bugs to be worked out. Setup wasn’t right on Regazzoni’s car, giving the Italian driver a disappointing 16th place finish, while mechanical gremlins plagued Lauda, ending his day in fifth place. At the next race, the Spanish Grand Prix, things began on a high note with Lauda capturing the pole position behind the wheel of chassis 022. Regazzoni shared the front row, qualifying second with a time just 0.1 seconds slower than his teammate.

1975 Ferrari 312T

Things went wrong at the start of the race, when Vittorio Brambilla tangled with Mario Andretti, sending the American driver into the back of Lauda’s car. The impact forced Lauda into his teammate, ending the Austrian driver’s day before the first lap was completed. Regazzoni was able to return to the garage for repairs before returning to the race, but he’d end the day Not Classified (NC), collecting zero points for his efforts.

By the Spanish Grand Prix, however, chassis 022 was already a proven race winner with Lauda at the helm, having earned a victory in its competition debut, a British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) International Trophy Race at the Silverstone Circuit. A non-championship event, no points were awarded towards the F1 Driver’s Championship or the F1 Constructor’s Championship.

1975 Ferrari 312T

After Spain, it was Regazzoni who’d drive 022 next, at the Belgian Grand Prix on May 25, where he started in fourth and ended the day in fifth (Lauda, driving a different 312T chassis that day, started on pole and won the race). Chassis 022 served as a backup car at the Swedish Grand Prix in early June, but later that month, at the Dutch Grand Prix, Lauda would drive the car to a pole position and a second-place finish, collecting the race’s fastest lap in the process.

The French Grand Prix was next on the schedule, and there, Lauda drove 022 to a pole and a victory, his last win with the chassis. At the German Grand Prix in August, Lauda picked up a pole and a third-place finish with 022, followed by a pole and sixth-place finish in the chassis in Austria. The final appearance of 022 in 1975 came at the season-ending United States Grand Prix in October, where Regazzoni used it for practice only.

1975 Ferrari 312T

The car served as a backup at the first race of the 1976 F1 season, the Brazilian Grand Prix, and was driven by Regazzoni in the South African Grand Prix, where he started ninth but retired after 52 laps with engine failure. The third race of the 1976 season would be 022’s final competition appearance, but there it served a backup role and was driven by Lauda only in practice.

Following its retirement, the car was purchased in the 1980s by collector Jacques Setton, who would own the 312T for nearly two decades before selling to John Bosch of the Netherlands. In 2008 it sold to the consignor, an American collector, who funded a comprehensive restoration. After appearing at Amelia Island in 2015, the Ferrari was shown at Pebble Beach in 2017, where it finished third in the expansive Ferrari Major Race Winners class.

1975 Ferrari 312T

Over the five seasons it was driven (in updated variants) the 312T chassis delivered 27 race wins, four F1 Constructor’s Championships, and three F1 Driver’s Championships, making it one of the most successful F1 cars in history. Chassis 022 was instrumental in Lauda’s 1975 championship (his first of three), and helped return Ferrari to prominence in the sport of Formula 1. As a key piece of F1 and Ferrari history, Gooding & Company predicts a selling price between $6 million and $8 million when 022 crosses the auction block.

The Pebble Beach sale takes place on August 16-17. For additional details, visit GoodingCo.com.