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Ferrari 312T5, 1980

History of the actual Car

This model built in 1995/6, represents that driven by Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve during the 1980 season. If 1979 had been a victorious celebration of what Ferrari was all about, …winning, then 1980 was quite another story. This was the year that the unsuitability of the flat-12 engine projecting sideways within the venturi was proven, with all the other merits of the car proving well short of that needed to keep up with the advances made by other teams, most using narrow Ford Cosworth DFV engines. Engine and other modifications to suspension and bodywork failed to bridge the chasm between Ferrari and the other further improved ground-effect cars; engine reliability and tyre issues didn’t help the cause. Driver morale must have been a factor, the low point being Scheckter’s failure to qualify in Canada. Jody retired from Grand Prix racing after the final Grand Prix (USA East), having qualified near the back of the grid and finishing a lowly eleventh. Ferrari finished second last in the Constructors’ championship with a mere eight points and there were no wins this season, the best finish having been a scattering of fifth places.


The model

This model being Protar was a challenge and especially so having built the 312T4 in the same year just before the T5. Again, because Protar made it, I felt it was a good idea to acquire it for the collection and applied the same diligent high ideals as expressed when describing the motives behind my approach to building the Tamiya 312T4. Essentially, having no references apart from the box photo and a few photos in the 1980 issues of Grand Prix International magazine, I used my experience of the T4 and parts from the spares box (derived from my brush painted original T4 built in 1981) to enhance, improve and super-detail the poorer Protar cousin. The result was fantastic I felt and I was pleased with it, considering the starting material on offer with its poorly moulded parts and mis-fitting top body-work and inappropriate suspension etc. I realised Protar made the 312T4 as well and would never have purchased that model when I had access to the Tamiya product. However, much of the T5 model resembled detail of the T4 and it struck me that Protar’s T5 was perhaps merely a minimal modification of their T4 in order to get away with it and present the outer exterior of a 312T5. So I had to change the front suspension considerably and therefore alter the forward monocoque and forward top bodywork to suit, for otherwise the wheels would quickly and inappropriately contact the bodywork on any degree of steering input. Some changes to the rear were made, notably brake ducts as I recall. I raided the spares part box for any Tamiya 312T4 parts that could be pressed into service for example I believe, the aerofoils, the windscreen and detail elements, but I would have to re-visit the original 1981 built-T4 to see what’s missing (and therefore used in the T5).

Having completed it, it sat slightly uncomfortably next to the 312T4 for many years, because of the superior build of the T4 and the really significant alterations and the lesser quality of the T5 model. The historical record of such a poor race car didn’t help generate or retain enthusiastic respect for the 312T5, nor therefore for the model. However, I had photographed the 312T5 model in the same step by step way as the T4 and this was a useful comparison and with high quality prints I had something to be proud of, from a modelling point of view.

Some years later, I felt my allegiance to this model reduced, due to its imperfections and compromises (which didn’t sit comfortably with me). At the time (late 1990’s/early 2000’s) I was visiting an historic Ferrari workshop where the original Chris Rea recreation of the 1961 Sharknose Ferrari 156 was being worked on. In time, when the business changed hands I felt it reasonable to offer for sale the 312T5 on a presentation base for their reception area. This was accepted and a reasonable fee received at a time when I appreciated a little financial assistance for on-going projects. This was the first and only time I sold a model and for a long time, had no intention to sell another. The reason for the latter statement, is that all my other early work, though less well built than the 312T5, are technically more accurate, more emotionally identifiable with and when their time comes to be retired from the collection, they will be used to build a better version of themselves or a car one year either side of the original. I photographed the model (not very well) before I sold it, with an early Nikon Coolpix camera and these I will post at some point.

Therefore, I have no good photos of the Ferrai 312T5, certainly no original digital ones of ‘the build’ and so when I re-visit the photographic archive, I will bring the T5 photos  forward for scanning of negatives etc to make the best of what is available – a project for later this year (2011 or next) perhaps.

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