In 1967, Ferrari and Ford came to Le Mans and battled it out in one of the most thrilling and epic showdowns in motorsport history: the Ferrari 330 P4 versus the Ford MK.IV: handling versus power, Europe versus the US, and in the background, a smouldering war between two of the biggest personalities in the auto-world, Henry Ford “Deuce” versus Enzo “il Drake” Ferrari …
Ferrari’s history, an unbroken motorsport record that dates back to the early 1930s, comes in easily digestibly chunks. One that remains most beloved for tifosi is the era that stretched from 1960 through to 1973 (when FIAT cancelled Ferrari’s sportscar program). That was the decade that saw Ferrari challenge the richest automakers in the world in both Formula One and the World Sportscar Championship. And no car represents that era more than the 330 P4; a car that was designed by a man now largely forgotten, and built to extract vengeance after Ford’s 1966 Le Mans win had broken Ferrari’s heart.
The P Is For Prototype
Maranello only made four 330 P4s. Each was entrusted only and exclusively to Ferrari’s factory drivers. They raced for one season only, and only one P4 remains intact today; chassis 0856.
The rims were gold, the color blood red, the shape, the most beautiful silhouette that has ever graced a racetrack, and the engine, the epic Ferrari V12 that had been howling at venues around the world since 1947. If anyone should ask—what does glory sound like?—have them sit at Monza at the exit of the second Lesmo and listen to the crackle and fury of the “Colombo” V12 at full-pipe, full-RPM.
The P4 was built at a time when Maranello—small, feisty, and up against the biggest, richest automakers in the world—was in a moment of flux, with GT-racing domination lost to Ford and Shelby’s Cobras, and Le Mans domination now threatened by the endless checks signed by Henry Ford II for his squadron of GT 40s.
Ferrari was on an unbeaten run at Le Mans in the early ’60s with their mid-engined P-series of sportscars. Caught off-guard in Formula One by the Cooper revolution, Enzo had reacted swiftly in sportscar racing—after he’d given a front-engined car its final overall Le Mans win in 1962 with the one-off 330 TRI/LM Spyder, Enzo’s next sportscar was the mid-engined V12 250 P that crushed everything in its wake, winning the 12 Hours of Sebring, 1000 km Nürburgring, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Wins, for the P-series, would follow in 1963 and 1964, both at Le Mans, and the championship.
In 1963, Ferrari entered into negotiation with Henry Ford II, an eager suitor for Enzo’s company that built those “fast little red cars”. Negotiations were protracted, complicated by the uncompromised devotion of the two men to their own brands. Would the new racing division be named Ferrari-Ford, or Ford-Ferrari? Neither man was willing to concede, either on the race track nor at the negotiation table, and the negotiations proved, ultimately, fruitless.
In Dearborn, MI, Henry Ford “Deuce” was furious. There would, he declared, be vengeance. Ford would go to Le Mans and there, at a place that Ferrari called its own, they would teach the Scuderia a lesson.
In 1965, Ford came to Le Mans with their new Ford GT40 Mk.II. Ferrari, in response, came with their 330 P2 Spyder with its 4-litre V12. Both cars were pushing the envelope of power, and neither car finished. Ferrari’s streak of wins was saved, ironically, by the North American Racing Team’s 250LM entry with American Maston Gregory doing the wheelwork.
Ferrari, though, took note ofthe big-block Ford 7-litre V8s in the GT 40s. Their speed down the Mulsanne was as impressive as it was alarming, and with Ford writing blank checks in order to secure a win for 1966, Ferrari had no option but to respond.
The 330 P4
The 330 P3, with bodywork designed by a man named Piero Drogo, out of his Modena-based Carrozzeria Sports Cars, was Ferrari’s answer to the American challenge. Drogo, son of Italian immigrants raised in Venezuela, had gained some notoriety out in South America as a sportscar driver, and had managed one Formula One start as well, in 1960. His true talent, though, was designing cars. His first big commission was the Ferrari 250 GT SWB “Breadvan” for engineer Giotto Bizzarrini, who’d been hired by Count Volpi (owner of the Scuderia Serenissima racing team) to upgrade a Ferrari 250 GT SWB to compete with the factory Ferrari 250 GTO.
Drogo’s “Breadvan” was successful, and he was brought in by Maranello to design the P3. It would be the car that defined Drogo’s short-lived career—in 1973, in his early forties, Drago lost his life, and his coachworks expired with him, now all but forgotten.
What Drogo created, though, remains, for many, the most beautiful car that has ever raced. The first Ferrari to use fibreglass (for the doors) instead of aluminium, the P3 won the 1,000 km race at Monza with Mike Parkes and John Surtees, and Spa with Parkes and Ludovico Scarfiotti in its first season, and coming to Le Mans, in 1966, Ferrari was understandably optimistic. That all went south in the weeks leading to the race when industrial action in Italy curtailed the development of the P3. With lack of preparation, the P3 failed to get to the 20th hour at Le Mans.
The GT 40s ended Ferrari’s unbroken six-year winning run at Le Mans. To put an exclamation mark on that, Ford’s PR machine orchestrated a beautiful photo finish with all three winning GT 40s rumbling side-by-side over the finish line as Ferrari’s crew looked on silently.
In Dearborn, Henry Ford “Deuce” smiled.
In Maranello, Enzo Ferrari decided to get even. And that meant the P-series needed an upgrade in the power department.
V12s and the sound of glory
Ferrari had always loved the V12. Ever since seeing the V12 Panhard at Indy back in 1919, and then the Porsche-designed Auto Unions from the 1930s, Enzo had no bigger love. “I married the V12,” he once said, “and I never divorced it.”
For the Ferrari 330 P4, Ferrari tinkered excessively with the V12, bringing in Franco Rocchi to oversee the project. The new three-valve system was based on their Formula One engine, and a Lucas Fuel Injection system was introduced, amongst much refinement, for a total output of 450hp at a screaming 8,200rpm. The weight-saving fibreglass, meanwhile, dropped the dry weight to 720kgs. The cockpit was moved more centrally, the track was widened, the car shortened. The result? Top speed of 338kmh, and 0-100 is less than five seconds. This is the Ferrari that is coming to Project CARS 2.
In December of 1966, the new P4s were packed and sent to sunny Florida, Daytona (you can drive this track in Project CARS 2), where Ferrari began testing the new 330 P4. Back in Maranello, as a show of force, Ferrari took the remaining two examples of the older P3 and clothed them in P4 bodywork before selling them to privateers branded as the P3/4. Meanwhile two more P3s that had never been completed were sheathed in P4 bodywork, called 412 Ps, and also sold to privateer teams.
They were all entered for the 1967 Daytona 24 hours.
Enzo Ferrari hadn’t taken the 1966 humiliation at Le Mans lightly. After 24 hours at Daytona, in Ford’s back garden, two P4s and one P3/4 crossed the finish line 1, 2, and 3.
That photo would adorn Enzo’s office until the day he died.
Coming to Le Mans, then, for 1967, the competition was set. Forget about Lauda versus Hunt, and Senna versus Prost—this was nation versus nation, America versus Europe, horsepower versus road-handling, Enzo Ferrari versus Henry Ford II. This was a grudge match that employed hundreds of the best engineers from Italy and the United States, and had cost Ford tens of millions of dollars.
Le Mans, 1967
In Project CARS 2, you can recreate one of the most legendary battles in the history of motor racing. The Ford GT 40 Mark IV that comes with Project CARS 2 was built in the US (all previous GT 40s had been constructed in the UK), and featured the big-block 7-litre V8 capable—in the new low-drag MK IV—of 355kmh, almost 30kmh faster than the P4s. The P4s had the edge on handling, though, and would end up clinching that season’s sportscar World Championship (Ferrari’s 12th win in 14 seasons).
At Le Mans, though, there is no real substitute for top-speed. After 90 minutes, the Dan Gurney/A.J. Foyt Ford MK.IV—rookie Foyt who, the US press had predicted before the race, could not possibly be entrusted to last the 24 hours—took the lead, and began to stretch the gap.
Behind them, the MK.IV of McLaren/Donahue hit trouble early, and when a spinning Mario Andretti took himself and two other Ford GT 40s out of the race, and the Chris Amon 330 P4 blew a tyre, crashed, burst into flames and burnt to the ground, Ford’s hopes fell with the American pairing, while Ferrari were now all-in with the Parkes/Scarfiotti P4.
For Gurney, this was his 10th Le Mans, and he had learnt how to survive a 24 hour race from bitter experience. That experience, based on multiple failures to finish, would serve him well; those MK.IVs were heavy, 1,300kgs in race trim (almost double the weight of the P4s), and braking down the Mulsanne became a delicate act of lifting off the throttle and letting the engine suck some speed away before Gurney would then squeeze the ever-lengthening brake pedal. The MK.IV was fragile and difficult; it would chew its brakes if driven hard, and the engine could only survive the full race by being shifted 500-700rpm short of the 6,000 red line.
In the Ferrari pit, engineers were well aware of the fragility of the Fords. With the P4s running second and third, Ferrari driver Mike Parkes, trailing by four laps, strapped himself into the P4 late in the night and was given his final instructions. Leaving the pits with that V12 screaming, Ferrari’s crew knew what he was about to attempt was the last role of the dice.
Parkes went like hell and soon came up on the leading Ford with Dan Gurney at the wheel. Gurney by then was in cruise mode, his gap enough to massage the frail Ford to victory. Parkes, running down the Mulsanne, sped right behind the Ford and began flashing his lights. Gurney shifted, expecting Parkes to overtake. Inches behind, Parkers followed Gurney and kept flashing. Gurney, annoyed, backed off even further. Parkes did the same.
With the P4 following inches behind, lights flashing and blinding, an incensed Gurney, coming out of Arnage, pulled the Ford over onto the apron and slowed to a halt.
Behind him, Mike Parkes followed him onto the verge.
And there, on the grass on the exit of Arnage, in the cool hours before dawn, unseen in the blackness of night, the two cars sat, inches apart, idling, waiting …
Gurney had nothing but time. Parkes, finally realizing the American wasn’t going to get baited into pushing the fragile Ford to its death, finally engaged his clutch and pulled slowly away, knowing the game was up.
Gurney and Foyt went on to claim the only fully-American win in Le Mans history. On the podium, Gurney sprayed his champagne at the crowd and Henry Ford “Deuce” himself (his wife was, they say, not best pleased), a ritual that began that day and that has now become synonymous with racing success.
Not that Gurney was finished with the record books: eight days later, he went off to Spa (you can race that historic version in Project CARS 2) in his own Formula One car and became the first, and last, American to win a Formula One race with an all-American car, beating the Project-CARS 2-bound Lotus 49.
The end of a legend
Come the end of the season, the P4s, the most beautiful race cars ever made, were made redundant by the new rule changes that banned cars over 3-litres in sportscar racing. The burnt-down Amon chassis 0846 was scrapped, two other P4s were shipped off to the US where they were modified for Can Am, and the final P4 entered private ownership, to eventually end up owned by Lawrence Stroll, father of Formula One driver Lance.
Ferrari pulled out of sportcar racing for 1968, and never again would one of those “fast little red cars” win at Le Mans. That put an end to a decade that had been all about the Ford-Ferrari rivalry.
Le Mans would never get front-page news quite like it ever again. Untold millions were spent by Ford to break Ferrari’s stranglehold. 1960-1965 belonged to Ferrari: 1966-1969 to Ford. And in 1970, Porsche won their first Le Mans, and started a whole new era of domination.
But that race in 1967, when Ferrari and Ford came to Le Mans and battled it out with the Ferrari 330 P4 versus the Ford MK.IV, may well be the greatest endurance race of them all. It was, surely, the greatest motorsport showdown in history.
And now you can run both in Project CARS 2. Which will you choose?
Project CARS 2 releases worldwide September 22, on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Pre-order now.