The late 60s were, by any measure, a high-water point for sports car racing. The cars were absolutely beautiful. The science of aerodynamics was coming into its own. The cars were fast. Very fast. Faster than Formula 1 cars of the era.
Here’s a lovely example of the era that is coming available as part of RM Auctions’ Leggende e Passione auction: A meticulously preserved Ferrari 330 P4. Chassis 0858 is a majestic example, with a fairly impressive history. This is, after all, a car that was driven by Jackie Stewart and Chris Amon. Beyond a win at Monza, they shared the car for a wonderful meeting at Brands Hatch for the the British BOAC International 500. This was the last championship points winning race of the season and the World’s Sportscar Manufacturer Championship was on the line. Ferrari held a small lead, but Porsche was nipping at the horse’s heels. Jo Siffert was racing hard in his 910 to show that Porsche wasn’t just going to let Ferrari walk away with it. Through a handful of lead changes and hard battles, Jackie Stewart took the car back from Amon in the final hour to hold on to second place and secure Ferrari’s championship (Mike Spence and Phil Hill won the meeting in their Chaparral).
Ferrari 330 P4 is indeed a very special car. In many ways, however, this era is bittersweet for me because it represents the real turning point in sportscar sophistication. The era of the garagista as a force in racing then started its slow decline. Wind tunnels, aerodynamicists, space-aged materials, and technological leaps permanently placed sportscar racing—any racing for that matter—in the hands of professional engineers, not amateur gearheads. I know, I know, I’m always singing the praises of the 917, a car perhaps even more the culprit for this shift. But it’s sad all the same.
On another tangent, I really have to commend RM Auctions on not only securing a marvelous roster of cars for their auction, but on investing in high quality photography for the catalog. These shots are simply stunning and it’s worth hopping over to the catalog just to take them all in.