Is this the spiritual successor to the Ferrari P4?

Car Culture

The one-off P80/C has echoes of Ferrari’s past

The Ferrari P80/C

Images courtesy of Ferrari North Europe

A Ferrari sports prototype of the very modern sort, but one simultaneously inspired by the classic looks of the iconic 330 P3/P4 and the 1966 Dino 206 S? It sounds too good to be true. But this Ferrari P80/C that has just been unveiled, a lot like the legendary P4, is a one-off machine with a seriously strong claim to be the best so far.

One-off car commissions often appeal to the purist, shorn as they are of the requirements of a production line or the need to appeal to a wider market. One-off Ferraris tend to have particular appeal, for a number of reasons. And the P80/C is indeed very special.

As with a number of Ferraris such as the FXX-K, the P80/C is for the track only, meaning it is additionally unconstrained by road regulations. Indeed this car did not even use a road car as its basis – instead the track-only 488 GT3 provided that role.

The P80/C was conceptualised as a sports prototype that would make ‘no major concessions to the past’, aside, that is from the classic lines that the previous age was renowned for. This is where the P4 comes to mind.

It’s been four years in the making which, likely appropriately, is the longest development time of any one-off Ferrari. The time has been spent on the in-depth styling research and engineering development as well as meticulous analysis and testing.

The P4, from 52 years ago, had a similar starting point. It was a V12-powered endurance racing machine introduced in 1967 as an evolution of the previous year’s P3.

“Boasting a few more ccs than the P3, a little wider track, 30 more horses and a dozen extra valves – now three per pot – Mauro Forghieri’s design also received a new five-speed gearbox, with the brakes moved outboard to accommodate wider Firestone tyres,” Gordon Cruickshank recalled of the P4 for Motor Sport in 2010.

More: When Ferrari finesse met American muscle

“Nipped and tucked from the similar P3, the body was if anything slightly more beautiful, and when [Chris] Amon and Lorenzo Bandini won at Monza [in the 1000km race] it must have seemed surrounded by a scarlet halo.”

Only four P4s were built but despite this – or perhaps because of it – the car has passed into legend. This was particularly via it achieving a 1-2-3 result in the 1967 Daytona 24 Hours, defeating more powerful and better-resourced Fords as well as Chaparrals on the Italian marque’s first Daytona appearance. The P4s even rubbed American noses in it by effecting a side-by-side photo finish to counter Ford’s from the previous year’s Le Mans 24 Hours race.

Ferrari P4

“To my eyes, the 330 P4 is perfection,” added Nigel Roebuck for Motor Sport, “and I can still remember seeing it for the first time in the news pages of Autosport, following its first test, at Daytona in December 1966. The P3 had been not unattractive, but this was a different thing altogether.

“It had the same effect on Chris Amon, who joined Ferrari at just that time. ‘It was a great car, the P4,’ he said, ‘and a lovely thing to drive’,” continued Roebuck.

The influence of the P4 on the P80/C is clear. Just like the P4, the P80/C starts with an aggressively wedged front leading to beautifully sculpted curves over the wheels which lead to side air intakes. As was absolutely the case with the P4, the P80/C’s cockpit on the seems entirely fused with its surrounding body, and the wraparound windscreen lends fully to the sense. As does the merging of the side windows with the air intakes leading to a dynamic downward movement towards the car’s rear.

Just like the P4 too, the Ferrari claims superb handling from the P80. It’s made entirely out of carbon fibre and has several aerodynamic aids – Ferrari reckons it’s improved the GT3’s aero efficiency by 5 per cent – as well as a more forward-placed cockpit.

Ferrari hasn’t revealed the details of the P80/C’s powertrain so we can’t yet measure up how that compares to the V12 of the P4. The 488 GT3 is powered by a 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8; we may be safe to assume that more than its 660bhp has been sought.

Ferrari indeed notes that the P80/C’s engine is ‘unrestricted’ – a salivating prospect.


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