1963 Ferrari 275 P – The mythical racing car offered by RM Sotheby’s
By 1963, Ferrari was well into its golden years, and it was at Le Mans where they showcased their brilliance. The ’round-the-clock event in the French countryside tested not only the mettle of the drivers, but also the cars and their individual components to the very limit. The team that managed to survive the 24-hour race—and finish ahead of the world’s most talented drivers piloting the world’s most remarkable cars—would earn their spot atop the pedestal of sports car racing fame. Ferrari had won the grueling endurance in 1949, 1954, and 1958, and save for a concession to Aston Martin in 1959, their reign of dominance continued through the early 1960s, with overall wins in 1960, 1961, and 1962.
Chassis 0816 was born a Ferrari 250 P, the very tip of Scuderia Ferrari’s spear of sports racing cars for the 1963 season.
Its chassis began construction in February 1963 at Gestione Sportiva, Scuderia Ferrari’s own racing department. Stamped with the chassis no. 0816, it was fitted with a new Tipo 128LM/63 twelve-cylinder engine mated to a Tipo 564 gearbox.
Upon completion in April, it was sent to Fantuzzi for its spider bodywork and then returned to Maranello, ready for the 1963 season.
Care of comprehensive research with the archives of Ferrari Classiche, exciting new information has been uncovered regarding the true history of 0816. While its 1964 victory at Le Mans has been known for decades, the same cannot be said for its initial competitive outing. The reason for this is tied to its sister car, 0814, which was previously credited with winning Le Mans in 1963.
In May of 1963, chassis 0814 was sent to Germany to compete in the 1,000-kilometer race at the Nürburgring. There, during a practice session, the car was severely damaged in an accident. It was shipped back to Ferrari, but the Scuderia was given a tall order to repair the car in time for Le Mans.
In advance of the race and the accident at the Nürburgring, Ferrari had already submitted paperwork to the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), formally entering three new 250 Ps as Works entries: chassis nos. 0810, 0812, and 0814. As the 24 Hours of Le Mans approached, it became clear that the repairs on 0814 would not be completed in time. Rather than leave one of their Works entries unused, Ferrari transferred the identity of 0814 to 0816.
Entered as “0814,” it was in fact 0816 that was shipped to France to compete in the race. There, it was allocated #21 and paired with Ludovico Scarfiotti and Lorenzo Bandini as its drivers.
For the 1963 running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, Ferrari showed up in force. The marque fielded an intimidating 11 cars on the starting grid that year, nearly three times as many as Aston Martin with the second most entries. In addition to the trio of Works 250 Ps, there was an additional Works 250 GTO, as well as a 250 GTO, 330 LMB, and the 1962-winning 330 TRI-LM from Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team, along with a pair each of 250 GTOs and 330 LMBs fielded by national racing teams Ecurie Francorchamps and Maranello Concessionaires.
With lovely weather for the outset of the race, Phil Hill and his Aston Martin DP214 got off to an early lead in front of the Ferraris. They were quickly overtaken by André Simon in a Maserati, who held the lead for roughly two hours. Simon handed driving duties to Lloyd “Lucky” Casner, yet soon thereafter, the Maserati would begin to fade and ultimately drop out with transmission issues. Around the same time, Hill’s DP214 suffered the same fate, forcing him to withdraw. This left the race in the hands of Ferrari, giving them the top five positions at the time. Running strong throughout the rest of the race, 0816 surged into 2nd place and held on for 12 hours through the night from 10:00 p.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Shortly thereafter it pulled ahead of the #23 250 P driven by Surtees and Mairesse after that car crashed out of the race.
Not faltering for the remainder of the race, 0816 took the checkered flag at 4:00 p.m. on 16 June, some 16 laps ahead of the runner-up 250 GTO.
All said and done, 0816 had covered 2,834.509 miles at an average speed of 118.104 mph, setting a record for distance driven during the race. Furthermore, the car also earned the Index of Performance.
The victory held much significance for Ferrari and Le Mans, itself. This was not only the first victory for a rear or mid-engined car, but also the first victory for two Italian drivers at Le Mans, at the wheel of an Italian car campaigned by an Italian team. Furthermore, Ferrari swept the top six positions, asserting their dominance of Le Mans and cementing their legacy in motorsport history.
After its victory at Le Mans, 0816 returned to Maranello where its identity was returned and 0814 emerged shortly after its repairs were completed, with both cars going about their separate ways.
For 0816, this meant a trip overseas for more racing where it was entered by Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team (NART) in a couple races with the Factory’s number one driver John Surtees at the wheel. The first stop at was the Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport, where it unfortunately did not finish. Surtees took to the wheel again a few weeks later at the Times Grand Prix in Riverside, California, this time finishing 4th overall.
After its return to Maranello in late 1963, 0816 was upgraded to 275 P specification with a new Tipo 210 engine. The increase in bore from 73-mm to 77-mm brought cubic capacity per cylinder to 275 cc, or 3,300 cc in total displacement as compared to the Tipo 128LM/63 engine. Ferrari reported a modest increase of just 10 bhp over the outgoing 250 P engine, developing a total 320 bhp at 7,700 rpm. Although there was the new 330 P which provided even more power, drivers at the time believed that the 275 P offered better and more predictable handling and was more maneuverable.
Following the upgrade to 275-specification, 0816 flew back across the pond to compete in the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 1964. Further examination and research of Ferrari Classiche’s records also confirm that 0816 was entered in the race wearing #22, driven by Mike Parkes and Umberto Maglioli.
At the start, Ferrari’s 330 Ps took the early lead and managed to hold on for most of the race. In the hours approaching the finish, 0816 and the 275 P driven by Scarfiotti and Nino Vaccarella exchanged the lead. In the final 20 minutes of the race, the Scarfiotti/Vaccarella 275 P retreated to the pits with clutch problems, propelling 0816 to the front to take the checkered flag, thus earning major championship victories in both North America and Europe.
At Le Mans in 1964 Ferrari had a new challenger to contend with: Ford. Three new GT40s would take to the Circuit de la Sarthe in Ford’s first outing at Le Mans, pitted directly against the Works entries of Jean Guichet and Nino Varcarella in 0816, bearing #20, and another pair of 275 Ps and a 330 P.
In practice it looked like this year’s challenge could be anyone’s race, with the four-liter 330 P lapping the track in 3:42 with Ford just trailing at 3:45. For 0816, or any of the 275 Ps, chances of landing atop the podium would be slim, as there were entries that were both more modern and more powerful from Ferrari itself and its competitors alike. When the race began, Ford quickly surged ahead and set the pace. As time marched on, Le Mans began to take its toll on Ford and their initial rapid pace, with all three GT40s dropping out roughly 14 hours into the race. Ferrari would regain the lead, and at 4:00 p.m. the next day, they not only held onto that lead, but had secured a 1-2-3 sweep, with the 275 P followed by a pair of 330 Ps.
Incredibly, 0816 crossed the line ahead of everyone yet again, securing its second Le Mans victory, a feat that would go unnoticed for 54 years. Chassis 0816’s performance even bested its run from a year prior, resetting its own distance record by nearly 10 laps. Not only that, the 275 P again clinched the Index of Performance, the proverbial cherry on top of a sweet victory for the Scuderia.
Little did anyone know at the time, but this would be Ferrari’s final overall victory as a Works team at the world’s most prestigious endurance race. This was a pivotal race for Ferrari and a turning point in their illustrious history, and 0816 was at the forefront.
After its second victory at Le Mans, 0816 returned to Maranello to be refurbished. It was noted as being fitted with a Tipo 210 engine bearing internal no. 3 and a Tipo 564 gearbox with internal no. 1. The car was tested at the Modena Autodromo in late August before being sold and shipped back across the pond to Luigi Chinetti.
In early 1965, the 275 P first appeared with Luigi Chinetti and his team who had sold 0816 to privateer racing driver, Tom Regan of Louisiana. Regan would enter the car again in the 12 Hours of Sebring. Under the banner of Fong Racing Associates, 0816 placed 23rd overall and 4th in class, with former Scuderia Ferrari team driver Willy Mairesse and Mauro Bianchi at the helm.
Shortly thereafter, it was sold to Major William Henry Cooper. Major Cooper also took the car to the track and raced it primarily at Road America a handful of times a year over the next three years. Looking for an upgrade, Cooper traded 0816 back to Chinetti in a part-exchange for the 365 P2/3, chassis no. 0838, in the latter half of 1968.
Upon arrival at Chinetti’s, the bodywork was modified to remove the aerofoil, which was replaced with a more basic rollbar. New star-mag wheels were fitted to replace the original wire wheels. It was entered in 1969 to the 12 Hours of Sebring by NART and driven by Pedro Rodriguez and Chuck Parsons, however failed to finish.
At the end of its racing career, 0816 was sold to Pierre Bardinon in January 1970 and shipped to France, where it has remained for the last 48 years.
Born in 1931, Bardinon was a member of the Chapal family and inherited their leather and fur business, a dynasty in its own right. Falling in love with sports cars as a young boy, he quickly became a passionate Ferrari aficionado, smitten with his country’s most famous race. Ahead of his time, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bardinon acquired what is widely considered to be the most significant collection of Ferraris ever assembled under one roof. He would very specifically seek out the most successful sports racers from Ferrari’s golden era, and 0816 would go on to share garage space with over 50 of Maranello’s finest even-numbered sports racing, Formula One, and GT cars.
His collection consisted of the proverbial “who’s-who” of racing cars, including an incredible four winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and was unrivaled in its time.
Thankfully, this would not be simply a static museum. Bardinon built a professional-level racing circuit adjacent to his family chateau in Mas du Clos where his cars could be regularly exercised. He even made Circuit du Mas du Clos available to a handful of French clubs and enthusiasts, and was used on occasion by the Renault F1 team for testing.
Chassis no. 0816 remained largely out of sight during Bardinon’s ownership, save for those displays at his home, as well as being driven at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2000 by Jean Guichet.
Following Pierre’s passing in August 2012, as well as his wife’s the following year, the Bardinon family have retained ownership and since entrusted RM Sotheby’s Private Sales division with its private offering. Amazingly, despite its extensive and highly successful racing career, the 275 P is presented in remarkably original condition. Other than a quick refurbishing by original body constructor Fantuzzi in 1970 when the correct aerofoil was reinstalled, 0816 has never been fully restored and retains its original matching-numbers engine, gearbox, and bodywork from when it was sold by Ferrari.
Simply defining 0816 as a racing car would be a disservice. Its story is a perfect union of man and machine, emerging victorious on two different continents in their respective top-tier motorsport events: the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans . . . twice!
Its back-to-back triumphs at the Circuit de la Sarthe are a miraculous combination of skill, endurance, patience, and the relentless pursuit of victory. Just finishing the punishing 24 Hours of Le Mans is an arduous task, but winning is a dream many are never privy to and an achievement realized by fewer still. While other cars have contested the race on multiple occasions, only four other automobiles have won the famed event twice, with 0816 being the only Ferrari to do so, and was of course only recently discovered to be the fifth two-time Le Mans winner.
For the relatively young history of the automobile, this is a watershed moment: a moment where one can acquire the most significant sports racer built by the industry’s most celebrated company.
|1963 Ferrari 275 P – Competition History|
|June 15-16, 1963||24 Hours of Le Mans||21||Ludovico Scarfiotti/Lorenzo Bandini||1st OA|
|September 28, 1963||Canadian Grand Prix, Mosport||4||John Surtees||DNF|
|October 13, 1963||Times Grand Prix, Riverside||11||John Surtees||4th OA|
|March 21, 1964||12 Hours of Sebring||22||Michael Parks/Umberto Maglioli||1st OA|
|June 20-21, 1964||24 Hours of Le Mans||20||Jean Guichet/Nino Varccarella||1st OA|
|March 27, 1965||12 Hours of Sebring||81||Willy Mairesse/Mauro Bianchi||4th IC, 23rd OA|
|June 20, 1965||Race 6, Elkhart Lake, Road America||61||Bill Cooper|
|September 5, 1965||USRRC, Elkhart Lake, Road America||22||Bill Cooper||8th IC, 22nd OA|
|June 19, 1966||Race 7, Elkhart Lake, Road America||21||Bill Cooper||22nd OA|
|September 4, 1966||USRRC, Elkhart Lake, Road America||21||Bill Cooper||5th IC, 9th OA|
|June 18, 1967||Race 7, Elkhart Lake, Road America||21||Bill Cooper|
|July 30, 1967||Race 4, Elkhart Lake, Road America||21||Bill Cooper||5th IC, 10th OA|
|June 16, 1968||Race 7, Elkhart Lake, Road America||21||Bill Cooper||10th IC|
|March 21-22, 1969||12 Hours of Sebring||26||Pedro Rodriguez/Chuck Parsons||DNF|
Modern pictures courtesy of RM Sotheby’s