The P3 was a logical and comprehensive evolution of the 1965 model P2, still a tubular frame but now, in P3 form, riveted-on alloy panels and the fiberglass undertray were both bonded to the chassis to increase torsional rigidity. An all-new, four-cam V-12 engine was developed for the P3, now fitted with Lucas mechanical fuel injection. This would be the first time that Weber carburetors were not fitted to a works Ferrari sports racing car.
Twin ignition via two distributors and four coils rounded out the powerplant, which produced a claimed output of 420 horsepower at 8,200 rpm. The P3 was fitted with what is recognized as one of the most pure and beautiful bodies ever created for a competition Ferrari.
Built by Brazilian Piero Drogo’s Carrozzeria Sports Cars in Modena, it was much lower than a P2 at 37.4 inches high.
Because of labor disputes in Italy, only three
P3s were ever built, compared to five P2s built the previous year. 0844’s first race outing was in the 1,000 Kilometer sports car race at Monza, where Mike Parkes was partnered with John Surtees. The pair led from start to finish in what was mostly a wet race. For the Spa-Francorchamps 1,000 Kilometer race, Parkes drove again, this time partnered with Ludovico Scarfiotti. During the race, Parkes set a lap record of 139 mph and despite facing a horde of Ford GT40s, 0844 trounced the opposition again.
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.
0844 was sold to Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team for 1967. The first race in 1967 for 0844 was Daytona; the new P4s dominated the race, placing first and second. The new P4 was still a four-liter car but now featured a three-valve cylinder head. This extra breathing helped the P4 to produce 450 hp, 30 more than the P3. The sometimes unreliable ZF transaxle was replaced with a Ferrari-built unit; other major changes were a shorter wheelbase and wider track. The last year’s P3s were updated to the wheels and uprights of the P4, these converted cars are called “412P.” 0844, driven by Pedro Rodriguez and Jean Guichet, completed Ferrari’s domination in third place. In perhaps the most recognized triumph in Ferrari history, the three cars staged a formation finish which has been depicted in numerous paintings (see Dexter Brown’s rendition on the cover of the October, 1998 SCM).
At Monza the P4s triumphed again while 0844, shared by Jean Guichet and Pedro Rodriguez, charged hard from the start. In fact, Pedro eventually got the lead from Parkes’ P4 thanks to the P3’s better fuel mileage and his blinding pace until the Mexican, trying too hard, went off at the first chicane and damaged the radiator too seriously to continue. 0844 was now prepared for the return match at Le Mans. There, she was race number 25 driven by Rodriguez and Giancarlo Baghetti. It was actually Rodriguez in 0844 who led the field from the start but the pace of the winning GT40 MK IV of Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt simply left all others gasping in their wake. 0844, after showing signs of strain, was eventually retired in the eleventh hour with piston failure.
For 1968 the new three-liter limit for sports cars made cars like 0844 obsolete. However, Can-Am racing was becoming very popular so Chinetti returned the car to the factory where the bodywork was cut down into Spyder configuration and the uprights were replaced with P4 units.
Finished in late August, 0844 ran its first Can-Am race at Bridgehampton, driven by Scarfiotti into seventh place. Just one week later, the P3/4 appeared at Mosport where a bad start and a puncture ended Scarfiotti’s run. Chinetti now realized that four liters of European V12 stood no chance against seven liters of American V8 and retired the Ferrari from active competition. Chinetti sold the car a few years later and it passed through several hands in the US before being purchased and restored to its original P3 Berlinetta configuration.