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Newsletter 50: FERRARI SECRETS & POLITICS!

JOHN BARNARD, THE “SECRET” FERRARI, FERRARI POLITICS

AND ENZO STEPS IN!

The semi-automatic gearbox or paddle shift, as it is also known, is one of the most significant technological developments in f1 history. In just a handful of years, after Ferrari introduced the concept in 1989, every car on the grid had copied it.

It is a system we take for granted today and it’s even made its way into the road car industry, but the pioneering car that first carried this revolution almost got derailed by spectacular internal politics at Ferrari.

The semi-automatic gearbox was the brainchild of legendary f1 design genius John Barnard, Barnard had moved to Ferrari from McLaren at the end of 1986, and in early 1987 he was getting down to work on his first design for the Ferrari team, which would eventually lead to the iconic 640 of 1989.

Ferrari secrets and politics red F1

As f1 was reaching the end of its brutal turbo era, Barnard was one of the first technical minds to grasp the importance of creating leaner car designs, which carried the potential for huge aerodynamic gains.

Unfortunately, in his attempts to create something as sleek as the 640, he hit a huge problem. The gear shift mechanism, along with the clunky h-pattern gearboxes of the era, created a huge design headache, not only did it restrict how small the cockpit could be, because of the space required for the gear lever, but the entire linkage system compromised the design of the back end of the car.

Eventually, Barnard came up with an alternative. He initially came up with a system where the driver would press a button on the steering wheel, which would then send an electrical signal to a hydraulic actuator on the gearbox and, hey presto, the car would change gear!

Ferrari secrets and politics blueprint

The benefits of the system would be huge, the driver would have greater control of the car because they would never need to take their hands off the wheel to change gear, and engine damage would be reduced, as the driver would no longer be able to accidentally change down at high revs or miss a gear.

Ferrari had evaluated a sequential gear shift, with a lever, almost a decade earlier with Gilles Villeneuve at Fiorano, however, back then the electronics available were not advanced enough to get the most out of the system, so it was abandoned.

You might be wondering why Ferrari started work on its 1989 car at the beginning of 1987?

What’s often forgotten is Barnard’s initial design, the unraced 639 that was originally intended to race in 1988. This was the final year that turbo engines were allowed but Ferrari had intended to make the switch to a normally aspirated v12 a year earlier, partly to get ahead on development, and partly because of concerns about how much the turbo engines were going to be held back by greater fuel capacity restrictions for 1988. Ferrari said that the car wasn’t ready because of the time needed to develop the gearbox and communication difficulties with Barnard, who was working from the UK at the time.

Ferrari secrets and politics racing

Barnard blamed the engine department for not having the v12 ready in time. Subsequently, Ferrari spent the final year of the turbo era racing an adapted version of its 1987 car, which was blown away by McLaren’s phenomenal mp44.

Barnard also struggled to get access to Ferrari’s wind tunnel to test out the design he was working on. Eventually, the reason for this became clear. Word leaked out, from Maranello to Barnard’s UK operation, that the wind tunnel time was being taken up by another design being led by Harvey Postlethwaite. The “secret” project was kept away from Enzo Ferrari although his son, Piero was in on it as was driver Michele Alboreto, who did not get on with Barnard.

Internal politics were nothing new at Ferrari but even by those standards, this was an incredible level of deceit.

Enzo Ferrari had hired Barnard himself, so it was a huge risk to work in the shadows, against the man Enzo had hand-picked to get Ferrari back on top.

Enzo and John Barnard

It was a sign of how keen Enzo was to support Barnard. In spite of the politics, he agreed to the British designer’s wish to set up a technical office in England rather than work full time from Maranello.

Technical Office Ferrari

This created the conditions to allow a secret project to form out of sight but, had Barnard been working from Italy, he would have been able to keep an eye on the internal politics at Ferrari.

The “secret” car, like Barnard’s 639, was being worked on to race in 1988 and, as a further sign of the destructive forces at work inside Ferrari, the secret project was being designed around a turbo engine, so Ferrari had two cars being designed for 1988, one with a turbo and one with a normally aspirated v12.

1988 Ferrari Logo Blue Print

Nothing sums up how self-defeating the politics at Ferrari were in this era, better than the fact that neither car was ready in time to race.

Curiously, for a character famed for his short fuse, Barnard took no action when he learned of the secret car, instead, he waited until his design had run for the first time in May of 1988 when it was met with enthusiastic approval from an increasingly frail Enzo Ferrari.

Barnard got the last laugh though when shortly afterwards, he met with Ferrari managing director Gianni Roselli, at which point he told him about the “secret” car.

Roselli went straight to Enzo Ferrari, who took swift action against the main players in the plot. Piero Ferrari was immediately side-lined, Postlethwaite was “let go”, and subsequently went to Tyrell and Alboreto was “let go” at the end of a season full of politics.

There was more trouble to come though, following Enzo’s death in august 1988. A power struggle broke out inside Ferrari, senior figures within Fiat jockeyed for position and another parallel car project was put into action, this time it was a simpler idea, a modified version of the unrealised 639 was produced with a conventional gear shift, under the orders of those within fiat, who had doubts about Barnard’s semi-automatic concept.

After a lengthy legal dispute, senior figures had even got Barnard to agree to a new contract clause stating that, if the paddle shift system was a failure, Ferrari could switch to a conventional gear shift and release Barnard from his contract, without any form of a severance package.

That idea was quickly knocked off its course when new recruit, Nigel Mansell tested the backup design at Fiorano and immediately dismissed it in favour of Barnard’s paddle shift.

Red Ferrari F1

Barnard’s 640/1

The 640 raced in 1989, was fast and attractive but, in pre-season testing, it appeared to be hopelessly unreliable, to the extent that, famously, Mansell even booked himself an early flight home from the first race of the year, in Brazil, only for the car to perform perfectly and win the race, on its debut.

Unfortunately, the car did turn out to be dreadfully unreliable throughout the season, Mansell only finished five of the remaining 15 races and teammate Gerhard Berger only reached the chequered flag three times.

But what about the “secret” car? It’s widely accepted that the Tyrell design Postlethwaite had come up with for 1989 was based on the “secret” car he had worked on at Ferrari, it has a striking resemblance to Barnard’s 640, and a year later they pioneered the high nose concept, which much like the paddle shift, was quickly adopted throughout the grid.

Two cars, one red and one yellow

Observers at Maranello had spotted a high nose on the “secret” Ferrari project a couple of years earlier, and while Postlethwaite claimed the concept was developed once he was at Tyrell, Barnard believes the ideas he took to Tyrell were from the “secret” Ferrari design.

Barnard described the “secret” car as a pretty good effort, his issue wasn’t necessarily with the ideas being worked on it was the fact that there were people in Ferrari directly working against him.

Perhaps fittingly, Barnard got the last laugh again he was impressed by the high noses and the benefit it brought by forcing high speed airflow under the car, but he was less impressed by how Tyrell had achieved it.

The continued Ferrari politics got the better of Barnard and he moved to Benetton at the end of 1989. When the time came to design Benetton’s 1991 car, Barnard knew it made sense to borrow the high nose idea, but he came up with a better way of doing it.

Two Race Cars F1

He didn’t like the look of the Tyrell front wing, which he compared to a handlebar moustache, so he came up with a version that featured an uninterrupted front wing all the way across the front plane, with two pillars dropping down from the raised nose to attach it.

Barnard compared this design, to what was effectively a copy of the Tyrell concept, in the wind tunnel, and his version was much better. In the end, it was Barnard’s interpretation of the high nose and front wing that was copied by all the other teams on the grid.

Barnard got his revenge over the “secret” Ferrari project once more!!


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Newsletter 47: ALL ABOUT THE FERRARI CALIFORNIA!

LIKE KIM KARDASHIAN AFTER A VISIT TO THE PIE SHOP!

At the time of its launch, Enzo Ferrari would have probably been turning in his grave at the thought of his beloved company offering a practical, easy to drive cruiser and supercar all rolled into one!
So, can the California be a convertible, a gran tourer and a supercar, and still be a proper Ferrari?
Well for starters, it displays all that grace and poise a Ferrari should, before a wheel has even turned. This is Ferrari’s first-ever hardtop convertible and its “folding swan” routine is the most elegant one out there!
It may disappear beautifully but it does reveal something slightly less dainty. Some might think, it’s got a backside like Kim Kardashian after a visit to a pie shop, and no amount of designer lines can disguise the fact that with such bulk comes weight, 200 kilograms more than the f430, and more even than the bigger 599 GTB.
This car needs to have a pretty amazing engine to shift it …………..and it does!

full side of FerrariIt’s the first fuel-injected, front-engine, v8 Ferrari ever. It’s got a really broad powerband so it is incredibly user-friendly. It marked the start of the company’s commitment to reduce emissions, the co2 output is a new company low of 305 grams per kilometre with an average of 12.5 L/100 which is not too shabby figures for a supercar, but the only figure you really want to know is this one, 0 – 100 in under 4 seconds, so any worries about a lardy back-end will literally be left behind. The lightning-fast twin-clutch, the seven-speed gearbox was a first for a Ferrari road car. Keep your foot down through the gears and you’ll see 310Kmh, very, very quickly. If you’re not in the mood to attack, attack, attack, then just drop the pace a little and enjoy the California as a cruiser, it’ll pooter along and 130 – 140Kmh quite happily, proving that it is a very capable Grand Tourer.

Ferrari frontWhen launched, the California was more expensive than competitors like the Bentley Continental GT and the Mercedes SL63 AMG, but what you don’t get with the Merc and Bentley is firstly, value, the Merc and the Bentley are worth half the Cali price now, and secondly, something that’s in abundance with the Cali, sexiness! This car makes you feel like a million dollars! Inside it’s a sumptuous mix of stitched leather and aluminium, but good money’s also been spent on the more practical areas like the electrically adjustable steering column and beautifully sculptured and supportive seats.

Ferrari with doors openSo far we know the California is at least two Ferraris rolled into one, within 14 seconds it transforms from a convertible into a hardtop coupe. Flip the little manettino switch on the steering wheel, that controls the gearbox, traction control and suspension the car becomes a legitimate supercar. It’s got great balance because of its weight distribution, almost 50/50 between the front and rear end, and that equals great handling. Pick a corner, turn in, bury the throttle and that voluptuous derriere is all yours to play with. Amazingly, the California doesn’t feel overweight at all. It may lack the intensity and feedback of an F430, but it has so much more to offer.
The California is the most user-friendly way of indulging in the Ferrari spirit……………….ever!

The California side view

Newsletter 31: THE ALFA CONNECTION!

Enzo Ferrari famously raced for Alfa, as a driver, from 1920 to 1932.
Ferrari won his first Grand Prix in 1923 in Ravenna on the Savio Circuit.
Deeply shocked by the death of Ugo Sivocci in 1923 and Antonio Ascari in 1925, Ferrari, by his own admissions, continued to race half-heartedly. At the same time, he developed a taste for the organisational aspects of Grand Prix racing. Following the birth of his son Alfredo (Dino), Ferrari decided to retire and focus instead on the management and development of the factory Alfa race cars, eventually building up a race team of superstar drivers, including Giuseppe Campari and Tazio Nuvolari. This team was called Scuderia Ferrari (founded by Enzo in 1929) and acted as the racing division for Alfa Romeo, cementing the Alfa Connection. The team was very successful, thanks to the excellent cars, for example, the Alfa Romeo P3, and the talented drivers, like Nuvolari.
When Ferrari retired from competitive driving, he had participated in 41 Grands Prix with a record of 11 wins.
The Alfa legacy, much like the Ferrari one, can undoubtedly be attributed to Enzo’s involvement.

2000 GTV

The Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV (Veloce) was introduced in 1971 and production ran until 1977. The 2000 was the replacement for the 1750.
The basic body shape was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro for Bertone. It was one of his first major projects for Bertone, and borrowed heavily from his earlier design of the 2000 Sprint/2600 Sprint. The balance of glass and metal, the influence of the shape of the front and rear glass cabin glass, and the flat grille with incorporated headlamps were ground-breaking styling features for the era.
The engine was standardised throughout the range, with displacement of 1962 cc with a bore and stroke to 84 mm × 88.5 mm.
The engine produced 130 hp at 5500 rpm. SPICA fuel injection was fitted to cars destined for the United States and Canada, whilst carburettors were retained for all other markets, both systems produced the same power.
The interior trim was changed, with the most notable differences being the introduction of a separate instrument cluster, instead of the gauges installed in the dash panel, as in earlier cars. Externally the 2000 GTV is most easily distinguished by a grille with horizontal chrome bars, featuring protruding blocks, forming the familiar Alfa heart in outline, and smaller hubcaps with exposed wheel nuts.
Optional aluminum alloy wheels styled to the “turbina” design first seen on the Montreal.
“Turbina” refers to the wheel’s resemblance to a jet engine inlet.

Side view of the Alfa 2000 GTV

The last GTV model was delivered in early 1975.
37,459 units were made before European production ended, though it continued until 1977 in South Africa at the Rosslyn assembly plant, with a further 25 being produced, all were right hand drive.
Ferris Cars is delighted to be able to offer this exceptional example of the Alfa connection.
Built in South Africa in 1974, this car is in exquisite condition.
Apart from a respray, in the original colour, twenty five years ago, the car is totally original.
Multiple Concours winner, recently “Overall Winner” at the 2021 Alfa Concours.
The car comes with the original bill of sale, original car cover, books and spare keys.
This is, without question, the finest example in South Africa.
Comparative cost in the UK, would be between £55,000 and £65,000.
This car is extremely well priced at
R749,990

For more information on this vehicle click here.

Collage of the Ferris Alfa

Image Source: https://www.classicargarage.com

Newsletter 21: THANK YOU ENZO…….. FOR PISSING PEOPLE OFF!!

Enzo Ferrari was a man not to be crossed. He was a tyrant, an autocrat, he knew how to charm, and he knew how to influence. He ran his company with an iron fist and through his dogged work ethic and ruthlessness with his staff, built the world’s greatest and most successful Formula 1 team, and created a dynasty of road-going sports and GT cars that defined the parameters for all exotic and supercars.
No wonder then that his arrogance, determination, and ability to manipulate those around him, would inevitability result in pissing a few people off along the way.
The price of success was a high rate of attrition among his staff, ex-staff, annoyed customers, other owners, and a long list of would-be rivals, who were either envious of his success or simply out for revenge.
Here we explore a few of those individuals who, if it wasn’t for mean old Mr. Ferrari, would have meant we would all have missed out on some spectacular creations.

Portrait of Enzo Ferrari

Ferruccio Lamborghini: Lamborghini 350GT

This car is perhaps the most famous “Ferrari-beater” of all.
The story goes that Ferruccio Lamborghini, a wealthy maker of tractors and heating equipment, visited Enzo one day to suggest a modification he had made to his personal Ferrari road car to improve the clutch.
He was treated with utter contempt by Enzo, and one can only imagine the brutal exchange as Ferruccio was shown the door.
Mr. Lamborghini decided, virtually on the spot, that he was going to take revenge on Enzo by building the ‘best GT car in the world.’
He assembled a talented young team, including ex-Ferrari engineers Giotto Bizzarrini and Giampaolo Dallara, and set about creating a front-engined two-seater, powered by a four-cam 3.5-liter V12 engine that was probably the best of its kind; certainly, the chassis was well in advance of what Ferrari was offering his road car customers.
The Lamborghini 350GTV was first seen at Turin in 1963, although the true production 350GT’s did not become available until 1964.
Meanwhile, a modern new factory had been erected to build the cars, and the myth of Lamborghini was underway.
Connoisseurs recognised the excellence of those first Lamborghini’s, but only with the introduction of the ground-breaking mid-engined Miura, did Lamborghini build road cars that challenged – and even exceeded – the mystique of Ferrari.

Front view of the 350 GT

Henry Ford II: Ford GT40

Henry Ford II was set to buy Ferrari in the early ’60s, but was jilted at the last minute when he and Enzo fell out over the Italians’ rights to race at Indianapolis.
When Enzo walked away, a furious Mr. Ford sanctioned his competition department to find a company who could build a car for Ford that would beat all-comers in endurance racing, particularly the Le Mans 24 Hours, and even more particularly the Ferrari’s.
They found a ready-made basis for a winner in Eric Broadley’s Lola GT, which had showed potential at Le Mans already, and conveniently used a mid-mounted Ford V8.
Former Aston Martin Competition Manager John Wyer, was hired to develop the car into a winner, that would triumph at Le Mans in 1966, ’67, ’68 and ’69, including the famous 1-2-3 finish in ’66.

Henry Fords GT40

John DeLorean: Pontiac GTO

John DeLorean and his lieutenants at Pontiac conceived the GTO package as a way of livening up the staid image of this GM division, rather than as a means of attacking Ferrari; but they must have felt smug about the furor their brainchild caused.
There were no real Pontiac racing connections, as competition involvement had been banned at GM, making DeLorean’s use of the Gran Turismo Omologato nomenclature even more of nonsense on what was essentially a very ordinary mid-range car.
But the 1964 Pontiac GTO was the birth of the muscle car, inspiring dozens of imitators and notching up peak sales of 96,000 units in 1966 alone.
Soon, the ‘GOAT’ became an American cultural phenomena of the ’60s, second only to the Mustang.
Any American with $2,000 or so to spend could own a car that would leave a $14,000 Ferrari standing in a straight line.
Those Ferrari-lovers who were already outraged at Pontiac’s use of the hallowed GTO symbolism must have suffered near thrombosis when Car and Driver magazine ran a story comparing a Pontiac with a Ferrari 330GT and declared the match a draw……..

photo of Pontiac GTO

David Brown: Lagonda DP115 V12

Having rescued both marques from oblivion after WW2, the patriotic engineering tycoon David Brown was as passionate about the Lagonda marque as he was Aston Martin.
He had fond memories of the pre-war V12 Lagonda’s, and wanted to build a successor for the 1950s that would challenge the big 4-liter V12 Ferraris’ dominance at Le Mans: a Lagonda had, after all, won the 24 Hour endurance classic in 1935.
The Lagonda DP115 ran at Le Mans in 1954 as part of a particularly disastrous works entry, retiring after a spin crumpled the shapely Frank Feeley-designed bodywork.
Still, a timed 172mph down the Mulsanne straight showed the potential, and an improved car was fielded in 1955. The car retired on lap 93, causing Brown to cut his losses and park his dreams of a British Ferrari-beating V12.
But it didn’t end there…… we all know the story of how David Brown built the Aston Martin company into the world-class manufacturer it is today, despite going bankrupt a thousand times and changing owners just as often!

A green Lagonda DP115 V12

What would have transpired if Enzo Ferrari had been an easy-going, mild-mannered gentleman?
We may not have been gifted with the icon that is the Ferrari brand, and we certainly would not have been privileged to have experienced the likes of Lamborghini, Ford, and, to a certain extent, Aston Martin.
So Bravo Mr. Ferrari ……. and thank you for pissing off so many people and inspiring them to go on to bigger and better things!

Above content exerts from Martin Buckley Features- Classic & Sports Car.

If you enjoyed reading about Enzo you will probably love reading our article about the forgotten Ferraris.

Newsletter 17: FERRARI ICONS – DINO

In the mid-1960s, designer Sergio Pininfarina presented Enzo Ferrari with sketches he’d made of a small, swoopy, mid-engine sports car that he felt Enzo should build. Up to then, all Ferrari road cars were front-engined, but the automotive world was changing rapidly, most notably with the introduction of the Lamborghini Miura, the world’s first-ever mid-engined sports car. Enzo relented and agreed to build the car presented by Pininfarina, but only if it had a relatively small, less-powerful engine, Ferrari was afraid that his customers were not capable of handling a mid-engine car safely!

To power this car, Enzo chose a V-6 engine design that his son Alfredo (nickname Dino), had helped develop for racing. Alfredo had passed in 1956 from effects related to muscular dystrophy, but the engine he helped design had given Ferrari a Formula 1 world championship in 1958.

Enzo decreed the car would be called “Dino” in tribute to his late son and would bear no prancing horse, or the word Ferrari. Because Ferrari was required to mass-produce the engine for homologation and lacked the capacity to do so, he called on Fiat to cast and assemble the 2.0-liter V-6 in a partnership that saw Fiat able to produce its own front-engine Fiat Dino road cars.

Ferrari Dino Variations

Just 152 Dino 206 GT models were built before Ferrari decided to up the engine’s displacement to 2.4 liters, creating the 246 GT for the 1970 model year.  

While the five-speed manual transmission was retained, there were many changes, including a switch to steel for most bodywork and the engine’s bottom end (a push towards cost and production efficiency), a small lengthening of the wheelbase for more stable handling, and the introduction, in 1972, of a GTS model with a  removable Targa-style roof panel.  

Hand assembly of all Dino’s was carried out by Ferrari in the  Modena factory, on the same production lines as V-12 cars. The Dino has become iconic among Ferrari enthusiasts and collectors. Prices have risen dramatically over the years and good examples will always be a shrewd investment.

Ferrari Dino Variations 2

Specifications

Ferrari Dino 206 GT

Ferrari Dino 206 GT

• 0–60: 8.0 sec
• Top speed: 135 mph
• Power: 180 bhp
• Torque: 138 lb ft
• Weight: 1070 kg
• Cylinders: V6
• Engine capacity: 1987 cc
• Layout: Mid Engine
• Transmission: 5 x Manual

Ferrari Dino 246 GT

Ferrari Dino 246 GT

• 0–60: 7.1 sec
• Top speed: 143 mph
• Power: 195 bhp
• Torque: 166 lb ft
• Weight: 1070 kg
• Cylinders: V6
• Engine capacity: 2418 cc
• Layout: Mid Engine
• Transmission: 5 x Manual

Ferrari Dino 246 GTS

Ferrari Dino 246 GTS

• 0–60 7.1 s
• Top speed 143 mph
• Power 195 bhp
• Torque 166 lb ft
• Weight 1100 kg
• Cylinders V6
• Engine capacity 2418 cc
• Layout Mid Engine
• Transmission 5 x Manual

FERRIS CARS IS PRIVILEGED TO BE ABLE TO OFFER THIS
1970 (L SERIES) FERRARI 246 DINO GT


Meticulously cared for, this matching numbers car is a fine example of this iconic mid-engine collectible.
P.O.A.

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