Ferrari 312T, 1975
This model built circa 1986, represents the fruition of the ‘turning-point’ for Ferrari (1974’s 312B3). The 312T was unveiled at Fiorano just before the 1974 U.S. Grand Prix. The new car addressed the main difficulty with handling and set-up that prevented further development potential of the B3, namely understeer and insensitivity to set-up changes accordingly. Mauro Forghiery achieved this with his new Tranvasale, or Transverse gearbox concentrating most of its mass in front of the rear axle line, along with suspension changes. This major re-think including radically improving the front suspension elements with their pick-up points now entirely mounted on the front bulkhead, ensured centralisation of the main mass of the car between the front and rear axles and produced a neutrally handling car. Success was not far from coming after the promise of 1974. Five wins brought Ferrari the Constructors’ title and with four of those wins, Lauda convincingly won the Drivers’ Championship ahead of an unsettled Fittipaldi.
The model was built almost certainly in 1986 when I was at Edinburgh University and at home for 2/3 of the academic year having had a cycling accident in Dec 1985 and suffering a broken right forearm and right lower leg, ruling-out my continuing veterinary studies until the start of the next university year; I worked for about six months after recuperation in a local factory and was taught a lot about ‘life’ I wouldn’t ordinarily have experienced. Also, I had some money for a change and so I bought the Ferrari 312T model and the Renault RE20. I recall obtaining the 312T model and painting it, in those days entirely with enamel paints and using a brush. I made as good a job of it as I could and was proud of it, straight out of the box, no enhancements for I was without experience or vision and knew nothing of what a real Grand Prix car looked like.
The model no longer exists in the form of a Ferrari 312T, for in 1997 I elected to sacrifice the model in order to produce the fabulous 312B3 car, having by this stage recognised the limitations of my model-building skills of ten years earlier and no longer being able to ‘live with it’, as it were.
Photographs of it were taken on print film before it was taken apart and some day I will retrieve them from my archives and scan them in, posting them appropriately for the record. So, the 312T lives on, even though the transverse gearbox remains in the spares-box (not required on the B3 of course) and there within the very good looking B3 there lies the heart of a 312T – should be the other way round of course, but that’s another story! One day in the future however, I will build another Tamiya 312T with additional improved detail derived from the standard photos that are available of the car in period. I don’t recall seeing an original car, except at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in an advertising area, neatly roped-off, the car being fully bodied and visual access to the monocoque and exposed engine being denied. Perhaps one day, such a car will appear in the Formula One paddock itself, possibly having been restored, hopefully not when we first see it. If the mechanics are working on it, so much the better for we can see beneath the bodywork. If then it re-appeared some years later having been restored, that would be a treat.