Porsche 917 Ferrari 330 GTO
The world of vintage cars is always exclusive.
Because everything that you can re-live is something unique that in one way or another brings back memories and emotions in our souls. But there are some cars that, in addition to having marked our hearts, have established a very precise era of motoring.
Racing cars that have been the protagonists of long-standing drivers like Atwood, Elford. I had the chance, thanks to a fantastic organizer as Peter Auto, to meet my two myths in the temple of speed: Autodromo di Monza.
I refer to the Porsche 917 and the Ferrari 330 GTO, two cars very similar historical period but belonging to different categories: one sports prototype and the other a great race touring.
Both have a very deep-seated history in their own producers and it is easy to see how they have become an icon of motoring.
Everybody, or almost everyone, knows the Ferrari 250 GTO (Gran Turismo Omologata) an iconic car that collects millions of dollars at auctions because of its rarity – they built only 36 with – and the competitive palmares of the various models. Few people know, however, that the GTO of ’62 exists an even rarer version: the Ferrari 330 GTO.
The Ferrari 330 GTO is an evolution of the 250 GTO with stretched chassis and bonnet equipped with top crowning, to accommodate a bigger engine. The distance between track centers increases from 2,400 to 2,420 mm; the displacement of the V12, from 3,000 to 4,000 cc, through the increase in stroke. From the original 300 hp, we switched to 390/400 hp of power.
Only three models have been produced of this Ferrari 330 GTO.
The first car was lined up at 1,000 km of the Nurburgring in 1962 and placed second behind the Dino 246SP. Damaged before being able to compete in Le Mans, it was replaced with another specimen set up on a different frame (number 3765LM). It was Lorenzo Bandini and Mike Parkes who brought it to the La Sarthe circuit, who had to retire due to the overheating of the engine.
A Ferrari with identical chassis and engine, but spider body: 330 TRI/LM, won the event. After Le Mans, at 330 GTO chassis number 3765LM was replaced the engine with a 3-liter that allowed the driver Ferdinando Latteri to compete in Italy in 1965.
Impossible at this point not to mention the “Queen of Le Mans” : Porsche 917 K.
The Porsche 917 was born in 1969 and won races and championships until 1974 with different models born from the variant of the basic model and that brought on the verge of bankruptcy the small company (at the time) of Stuttgart.
With the lowering to 25 models as a minimum number of road sports cars to be produced necessary for the approval, in 1969 in the Porsche factory the project 917 gets the start. With the intention of reducing the speed achieved at Le Mans and on the other fast circuits of the time by the Group 6 prototypes, the International Sports Commission at the International Sports Commission.
Knowing that few manufacturers were ready, the Commission allowed to compete for the title also to the Sport cars of Group 4, Knowing that few manufacturers were ready, the Commission allowed competing for the title also to the Sport cars of Group 4.
The 917-001 is the first of 25 Group 4 models, useful for the approval, made by the team then led by Hans Mezger, who was also responsible for the development of the 12-cylinder engine. The 917 has great power, but it’s very difficult to handle. The rest of the 1969 season was dedicated to the development of the car, but everything changes at the end of the season.
The closed bodywork, with its long tail, is high-speed and makes the car hard and dangerous, and the official drivers are often terrified when they have to enter the cabin. The 917 in the hands of the British coach John Wyer and his team, begin a development work to solve the famous problem of downforce highlighted markedly by all drivers by changing the aerodynamics, the tail was shortened.
With the new aerodynamic changes, the 917K (Kurtz, short) has a truncated tail and rear spoiler. The chassis is always in a truss of tubes, the 12 cylinders boxer, initially of 4.5 liters, air-cooled with less power than the sport of Maranello, its direct competitor.
Clearly I have my favorite between the two. However, my love for both cars is growing the same way in equal measure. Their presence would stand out in the midst of millions of cars, they are two cars with beautiful lines and despite the fact that both 2020 have a beauty to which modern design still draws inspiration.
It’s like they never aged, forever young!
Word and picture by Andrea Casano for The Mechanists