Niki Lauda’s Ferrari 312T he used as part of his arsenal to capture the 1975 Formula 1 World Championship title is up for auction this weekend in Pebble Beach, where it is expected to fetch anything between $6-million to $8-million.
Lot 031 at the auction this weekend is the Ferrari 312T chassis 022, one of two main chassis’ used by Lauda during his title-winning season and in retirement, after being accurately restored by Marque Specialists, scooped Class Award Winner at 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
In the hands of legend Lauda, the car won the non-championship 1975 BRDC International Trophy F1 race and the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard that year. It represents one of the more significant Ferrari F1 cars to go on sale in recent years.
Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari F2001 sold for $7.5-million as couple of years ago which made it one of the most expensive post-seventies F1 cars ever sold, but Lauda’s 312T could fetch more than that.
But it is unlikely to match the $29-million forked out for Juan Manuel Fangio’s 1954 Mercedes W196 in 2013.
So if any of our readers have some spare cash, they would do well to hop the private jet and get a piece of proper F1 history.
Gooding & Company have released the following extensive CV of the car:
Winner of the 1975 French Grand Prix, Driven by Niki Lauda | An Outstanding Example of Ferrari’s Championship-Winning 312T
Ferrari Ferrari’s 1975 Formula 1 Championship Winner Driven by Niki Lauda
One of Five Examples Built and One of Just Two Main Chassis Used by Lauda for 1975
Winner of the BRDC International Trophy and French Grand Prix
Impeccably and Accurately Restored by Marque Specialists
Class Award Winner at 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Among the Most Significant Formula 1 Cars Ever to Come to Public Sale
Ferraris have stood at the fore in the pantheon of important automobiles from the moment the company was started in 1947. Central to Ferrari’s goals was Grand Prix racing, with which Enzo Ferrari had much experience, having run Alfa Romeo’s successful racing efforts before WWII.
Born from Enzo’s ingrained belief that competition was the most important aspect of automotive culture, the eponymous brand always placed racing first, famously selling road cars only to fund Enzo’s fixation with winning on the track.
The creations of Ferrari’s racing department are some of the greatest expressions of technology and styling from their respective eras, and are true masterpieces wrought by genius and obsession. Legendary engineers such as Vittorio Jano, Gioachino Colombo, Aurelio Lampredi, Carlo Chiti, and Mauro Forghieri were the creative masters behind Ferrari’s successes on track, having developed models that pushed the boundaries of what was thought possible at the time.
In addition to an incredible record in sports car racing, Ferrari has won 15 Drivers’ Championships and 16 Constructors’ Championships in Formula 1, more than any other team, and is the only team to have run every season since the Formula 1 World Championship was started in 1950. Within this unparalleled portfolio of success, there are layers; and history shows that Ferrari, for all of its efforts, wasn’t always successful.
In both sports cars and single-seaters, competition drove incredible levels of innovation, and there are distinct periods when the cars from Maranello were clearly head and shoulders above their peers. The 1975 312T offered here is an embodiment of one of those moments.
For the 1970 season, Ferrari’s technical director Mauro Forghieri designed an all-new car, the 312B, and flat-12 engine, the tipo 001/1. This new engine, variants of which were destined to be in every Ferrari Formula 1 car for the next 10 seasons, featured four chain-driven camshafts and was renowned for its reliability.
Scuderia Ferrari driver Mario Andretti called the engine “really bulletproof,” stating, “The more you gave it, the more it asked for.” The 312B wasn’t the immediate success that Ferrari had hoped for, however, and after three disappointing seasons, the team decided to quit sports car racing entirely, and focus all its efforts on getting back to its winning ways in Formula 1.
A key development in this endeavor was the hiring of Austrian driver Andreas Nikolaus (Niki) Lauda. Lauda was born into a wealthy paper manufacturing family in 1949. He started his racing career despite his family’s disapproval, eventually taking out a bank loan secured by his life insurance policy to buy a seat with March in the Formula 2 series for 1971.
He was quickly promoted by March to Formula 1 and, by 1973, had moved into a seat with BRM. When Lauda’s teammate, Clay Regazzoni, left BRM at the end of 1973 to join Ferrari, he relayed to Enzo how good Lauda was, and Niki was promptly signed to Ferrari for the 1974 season.
Ferrari’s faith in Lauda was rewarded in the fourth race of 1974, when he captured his first F1 victory, and Ferrari’s first victory since 1972, at the Spanish Grand Prix. Lauda would win two races and six pole positions on his way to 4th in the 1974 World Championship in the 312B3.
The debut of Forghieri’s new 312T at the third race of the 1975 season in South Africa was a turning point for Ferrari. This new design continued to utilize the proven flat-12 engine, which became known as the tipo 015, which was then coupled to a transverse gearbox that was packaged between the engine and the car’s differential.
This layout reduced the car’s polar moment of inertia, creating a marked improvement in the Ferrari’s overall handling balance. Aerodynamic and suspension revisions were made as well, and Ferrari finally had the handling to fully exploit the power advantage they had enjoyed in recent years.
Ferrari’s new machine was as beautiful as it was effective, and the 312T was instantly quick, but an accident in practice and problems in the race relegated Lauda to a 5th Place finish in South Africa.
The next outing for the 312T, and the inaugural one for the chassis offered here, 022, was the non-championship BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone.
This race would be something of a beginning to one of the great rivalries the sport of F1 had ever seen – Niki Lauda versus James Hunt. Hunt qualified on pole in his Hesketh, but after laps of dicing with Lauda, would suffer an engine failure, and Lauda would take the first victory for the 312T in chassis 022.
The next race for Lauda and 022 would be at the Spanish Grand Prix at the daunting Montjuïc circuit outside of Barcelona. Lauda would take pole position in qualifying, as he did in every subsequent Grand Prix event while driving 022.
The start saw Lauda’s car being run into by Mario Andretti’s Parnelli, and the Ferrari was spun into the barriers, damaging the front wing and right front suspension, ending Lauda’s race. One month later, Clay Regazzoni would contest the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps in 022, finishing 5th. Lauda was back in the car for the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, where he placed 2nd.
The French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard was next, and Lauda was again on pole in 022, having easily bested the competition in qualifying. On a hot and windy day, he would drive a dominating race, leading flag to flag, and claiming victory over James Hunt, who finished 2nd.
The German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring saw Lauda again dominate qualifying in 022, only to have a front tire puncture during the race while leading. He would limp the car to the pits and recover to finish in 3rd in a spirited drive.
The final outing for 022 for the 1975 season was in Lauda’s home country of Austria. He was again on pole, alongside Hunt, and the two led the race early on in awful, wet conditions, with Lauda going on to finish 6th.
The 1975 season had been an unbelievable success, and Ferrari had again become the champion of the world’s top form of motorsports. It was the Italian automaker’s first title since 1964, and Lauda’s first of three championships he would win in his storied career.
Lauda and Regazzoni had combined to win six of that year’s 14 races, and generally dominated their competition in the 312T. Chassis 022, having been such an integral part of the team’s 1975 title, would go on to be raced a single time by Regazzoni in South Africa in 1976, where it did not finish due to an engine problem.
According to a report by marque historian Marcel Massini, the 312T was subsequently stored by Ferrari until 1979, when the car was sold to Michael Vernon of the UK.
Noted French collector Jacques Setton would acquire 022 in 1986, at a point when he had already purchased 312T, chassis 023, Lauda’s other main car from 1975. Setton would own 022 until he sold it to John Bosch of the Netherlands in 2005.
The consignor, a prominent American collector, added 022 to his assemblage of significant racing and road cars in 2009, fulfilling a lifelong dream of owning a Niki Lauda Ferrari. He eventually set out to restore the long-dormant 312T to as close to as-new condition as possible, and assembled a team of well-qualified specialists to complete the task.
His in-house restoration expert, Tim Willard, oversaw the process and handled disassembly and assembly, and the renowned crew at Dennison International rebuilt the drivetrain. John Byers was tasked with restoring the bodywork to the exact factory Rosso Corsa (Racing Red) livery it wore in 1975. The Ferrari was found to be incredibly original and all numbers and components were thoroughly documented with photographs.
A replacement magnesium engine sump was sourced directly from Ferrari, replacing the original that had suffered from corrosion, and a new front wing was fabricated. The original components were retained and accompany the car.
The results of this exhaustive work are stunning, and a testament to the cost-no-object restoration that was truly a labor of love. Since completion, the car has been shown at the 2015 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, where it was honored with an Amelia Award, and the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, where it placed Third in Class, a rarity for a Formula 1 car.
Not merely intended as a show car, the 312T has also been exercised on the track, including a test session in June of this year, where it performed beautifully.
The attributes such as rarity and style that make a car collectible are often simple to identify, and in any measure this amazing Ferrari retains them all. But the qualities that truly separate a car can be more difficult to ascertain.
The men involved – Ferrari, Forghieri, Lauda – are legends who were operating at the top of their game on the world’s biggest stage. The tracks – Silverstone, Spa, Nürburgring – are iconic circuits where heroes were made.
The background of Grand Prix racing in the 1970s, with its incredible personalities, rivalries, and glamour, punctuated by its terrifying level of risk, is characterful enough to have been immortalized in Hollywood features. All of these elements meld together perfectly, and provide us with the context necessary to see the true significance of this amazing automobile.
Simply admired for its innate beauty, or utilized for its mind-blowing driving experience, this 1975 Ferrari 312T should be on the short list of cars for a very long list of collectors. As the first of this incredible breed to be offered at public sale, it is not an overstatement to say that this opportunity may be your only chance to acquire a 312T.
And since Niki Lauda only won races in four Ferrari chassis during his two world championships with the team, it may also be your only chance to own a Lauda-driven, race-winning Ferrari. Whether adding it to a collection of Formula 1 cars, or acquiring it as your only example of the ultimate form of racing machine, this Italian thoroughbred is guaranteed to delight its next steward.