Friday, July 5, 2013

Vintage and Exotic Restoration - The Ferrari 166 MM Touring Barchetta - FZ Restoration Livermore - (925)294-5666

Between 1974 and 1977, Ferrari and McLaren had been the dominant forces in Formula One, however Lotus quickly became a force again. This was largely down to the 'ground effect' aerodynamics introduced in 1977 on the Lotus 78. Few of Lotus' rivals, Ferrari included, realized just how the new Lotus worked and continued much along the same lines for the 1978 season. Instead of developing a 'ground effect' car, Ferrari's Mauro Forghieri spent the winter adapting to the team's new Michelin radial tires.

Although the 1978 Ferrari was dubbed the 312 T3, it was far more than an evolution of the 1977 World Championship winning 312 T2. The car sported a brand new chassis, which was required to make the most use of the Michelin radial tires, which replaced the conventional Goodyear tires used during the previous seasons. The switch was a daring move as although in theory the sophisticated radial tyres should provide a performance benefit, they had not been extensively used for racing yet.

The aluminium monocoque chassis itself was wholly conventional. Suspension was by lower wishbones and a top rocker arm at the front and a reversed lower wishbones, top links and radius arms at the rear. Ventilated Lockheed discs brakes were used on all four corners, mounted in-board at the rear. What was carried over from the 312 T2 was the very powerful 180° V12 engine. This was used as a fully stressed engine along with the transverse gearbox, from which the 'T' moniker was derived.

Whereas the Lotus relied on underbody tunnels to generate the now vital downforce, Forghieri used more old fashioned aerodynamic devices. At the front a full width, single piece wing was used while a two-piece rear wing was mounted on top of the gearbox. Compared to the earlier 312 T and T2, the new T3 sported a more angular body which itself was also shaped like a wing to generate downforce. The engine intakes were moved from the flanks to the very front of the body, running through the larger side-pods.

Even before the end of the 1977 season, newly crowned World Champion Niki Lauda had left the team. His place alongside Carlos Reutemann was taken by talented Canadian Gilles Villeneuve. This driver pairing was retained for the 1978 season. Lauda meanwhile had joined the Brabham team, which used engines produced by Ferrari's arch-rival Alfa Romeo. While the new 312 T3 was still being developed in Europe, Ferrari used the 312 T2 for the opening two rounds with success as Reutemann won the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Reutemann continued his winning ways soon after the 312 T3 made its debut, winning the USA Grand Prix West at Long Beach. With the introduction of the even more advanced Lotus 79 at the Belgian Grand Prix, the tables turned in the favour of former Ferrari racer Mario Andretti. Reutemann nevertheless managed to score wins at the British Grand Prix and the USA Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. Villeneuve scored a memorable first win at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montréal, at the track, which would later be named after him.

With Andretti and Lotus winning both titles, the writing was on the wall and for 1979 Forghieri developed the ground effect 312 T4. Considering what it was up against, the 312 T3 did very well, scoring four wins and propelling Reutemann to a third in the championship. As had become the norm, the now old 312 T3s were pressed into service for the opening races of the 1979 season. They were fitted with skirts, which helped little in the way of generating downforce. However, once the 312 T4 came on song, Ferrari returned to their winnings.
source: Wouter Melissen  | 

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