Ferrari 375 America

Ferrari 375 MM
Ferrari 375 MM
Ferrari is the most successful constructor in Formula One's history, but it all started rather humbly. Despite being an elite, high-profile automaker and racing team, Ferrari performed rather unobtrusively in Formula One's first season. Success rarely comes overnight, but the waiting period is dramatically shortened when you have already designed a dominant product in which to take and build off. Enzo Ferrari and Gioacchino Colombo both came into being after helping Alfa Romeo ascend to the top of the grand prix world. This knowledge and experience would help Ferrari be immediately competitive in grand prix racing, but still not enough to break the grip the Alfa 158's had in 1950. Though Ferrari performed well in Formula One's first season, the dominance and the records would have to wait. Ferrari used 1950 to tweak their designs to break Alfa Romeo's hold on the championship and to begin the Ferrari/Formula One legacy.

Ferrari would turn to its model 125 for Formula One's first season. Designed in 1949, the 125 was Ferrari's first single-seater designed specifically for grand prix racing. However, much of the internals of the car had been taken from the 125S sports racer which was designed and built in 1948. The 125F1, as it became known, closely resembled one of Colombo's chassis designs—the Alfa Romeo 158. Of course, the 158 had already proven itself and obviously would have made a good basis for any team looking to be competitive right away and with aspirations for more.

There were only two engine options the FIA allowed. Either a team chose a supercharged engine with a maximum displacement of 1.5 liters, or, the team would have to choose a normally aspirated engine that had a maximum of 4.5 liters. Ferrari decided to go the route of Alfa Romeo and used a twin-stage Roots-type supercharger to boost the power of their 1.5-liter V12 engine. Designed similar to an aircraft fuselage, the 125 consisted of a tube-frame chassis with longitudinal and cross members to help with strength while not gaining too much weight. The wide upside-down U-shaped nose was ever so slightly angled back and gently sloping. Of course, the nose was dominated by the radiator inlet to provide cooling for the 1.5 liter V12 that was hidden in the long, rounded nose. Just aft of the radiator inlet was a shapely scoop that protruded into the airstream through which air would pass and would be able to enter the supercharger. The addition of the supercharger would boost the engine's horsepower from what was around 118hp in the 125S to somewhere around 230hp. By 1949, another revision to the engine happened that boosted power up to around 280hp. This was still short from where the Alfa Romeo 158s were by close to 100hp. Still, this boost is what made Ferrari competitive straight-away. And though not alone, at the time, Ferrari used a five-speed gearbox to match their higher-revving V12. Most teams were utilizing only four-speed gearboxes.

On either side of the chassis low and behind the front tire there were two cut-outs where the six exhaust pipes exited and blended into single pipes that ran back the length of the car, underneath the rear suspension, and out under the rear of the car. As with the Formula One cars of today, the Ferrari 125 sported many shark-like gills all over the engine cowling. These gills went to help expel the heat generated by the big V12 by the onward-rushing air creating a vacuum, pulling out the heat built up inside the cowling as the air rushed over the gills.

The Ferrari 125 utilized a double wishbone suspension for the front tires, with a transverse leaf spring to help with stability at the front of the chassis. Heading back from the nose, the shape of the chassis begins to change but in a gentle manner. The chassis begins to shift from the upside-down U-shaped body and begins to, in essence, stand up a little. The design shifts ever-so-slightly to more of a triangular shape to help counter, aerodynamically, the driver sitting up in the airflow. Of course, this would only help so much. Between the driver and the little windshield, the airflow in this region was quite disturbed.

The cockpit itself was rather tight with deep channeled out sides for the driver's arms. As with the day, the driver sat greatly exposed. Directly behind the driver sat the large, rounded fuel tank. The rear suspension on the 125 consisted of longitudinal struts that attached up near the cockpit and traveled back to the rear axle. Along with the struts, the rear suspension utilized a torsion bar style rear axle and shock absorbers for driver comfort and the all-important stability at the rear of the car. Besides all this, the main brake system used in those days, though not the greatest, but nonetheless employed on the 125F1, was drum brakes.

As the season went on the 125 was refined and continually improved upon, but more so to influence next designs. Alberto Ascari was able to guide his 125 to a second-place finish in Monaco. So it was obvious Enzo and Gioacchino were heading the right direction. Later on in the season the 125 was again updated and refined. The 125 was shortened and the rear suspension modified. The de Dion tube suspension was the latest technology of the day, and so, was incorporated, along with a leaf spring, into the 125's suspension. This package made Ferrari very competitive, but not enough to beat Alfa Romeo.

The Alfa Romeo 158 had one Achilles heal and it was shared by Ferrari's 125—it was too thirsty. The benefit of the power gained for the amount of fuel needed to do so was too high. Though not certain, it is likely Enzo was inspired by the performances of the Talbot-Lago T26C, which used its superior gas mileage as a competitive edge. Though down well over 100hp, they were there at the end because they didn't have to stop for fuel. Ferrari had to find an answer.
Enter the 275. Ferrari too faced the problem of poor gas mileage with their supercharged 1.5 liter engine, and thus dropped it. Instead, the team turned to Aurelio Lampredi. Lampredi designed and built an engine for the all-new 275 chassis. Lampredi built a 3.3 liter normally aspirated engine that was first employed in his experimental 275S. The same engine was then taken and employed into the new 275F1 chassis.

The 275 chassis was also redesigned from that of the 125. The nose was totally changed and was more rounded and bulb-like. Instead of a nose that sloped back ever-so-slightly from the vertical like the nose on the 125, the nose on the 275 was more rounded, protruding forward. The rest of the chassis, forward of the cockpit, went through some refining, and yet, still had some similarities to the 125. The most noticeable changes made near the rear of the car included the longitudinal struts that were lengthened and extended further forward near the cockpit, but also, the shape of the bodywork that covered the fuel tank was changed. Instead of a more dramatic curve of the bodywork, the rear was extended further back; creating more of a torpedo shaped rear end.

The 275, with its 3.3-liter engine, debuted at Spa Francorchamps and the Grand Prix of Belgium. The single overhead camshaft design was capable of producing around 300hp and Alberto Ascari was able to drive the car to a fifth-place finish. Despite the new engine, it seemed the team took a step backward. The performance was just not there, or at least not to level the team was seeking. And so, by the time of the race at Monza, Ferrari changed chassis designs two more times.

At the Grand Prix of Nations at Geneva, Switzerland, which did not count toward the championship, Ferrari unveiled its next design…the 340. By this time, Lampredi had designed a 4.1 liter V12. This engine was capable of producing around 335hp, enough to stay with the Alfa Romeos. Also, to make the car more stable, and thus comfortable for the drivers to take out to the edge of limits, a series of changes were employed. Enzo and Colombo made the overall length of the chassis longer. This helped to distribute weight and provide greater balance. To provide better stability, Ferrari employed the de Dion tube rear suspension once again. Ferrari also changed from the five-speed gearbox to a four-speed manual gearbox.

The chassis, overall, was refined, made into a more flowing racing machine. The nose was rounded even more than the 275 but the angle of slope remained similar. The wheelbase remained wider than that of the 125. Much more of an emphasis was placed upon aerodynamics which can be seen from the front wheels back. The air scoop on top of the engine cowling was reduced in size and made more shapely. Instead of a windshield attached to the top of the chassis, appearing more like an afterthought, the windshield was incorporated into the shape and flow of the chassis on the 340.

Driving the 340, Ascari was able to race with Fangio in his 158. It appeared Ferrari had found its contender in the 340. However, as the race bore on, the engine developed problems that led to Ascari's retirement. Despite having a good car that could challenge Alfa Romeo, Ferrari wanted a car that would absolutely break Alfa's dominance. Besides, Lampredi had his next engine ready to go. Therefore, Ferrari was done with the 340 and moved on.

Come September of 1950, Ferrari had their challenger—the 375F1. In a quest to defeat the Alfa Romeo 158, the Ferrari team never rested, always looking to tweak certain areas to make a more competitive race car. While rather happy with the 340 chassis, Ferrari, specifically Aurelio Lampredi, kept working on specifics, especially the engine, trying to find that balance between power, reliability and efficiency. He was able to produce a 4.5 liter version (the maximum Formula One would allow) of his V12 engine. And while the engine produced only slightly more power than its 4.1 liter predecessor, Lampredi had been able to work and produce an engine that balanced out better when it came to reliability and that mystical marriage between engine and chassis. The 375F1 simply worked, or at least it showed promise. It was, then, just some small details that had to be addressed and its first race at Monza proved that fact.

Despite the only real difference between the 340 and the 375 being the 4.5 liter engine, the combination just worked better. Ferrari just missed the pole in its first race with the 375 and actually was leading a good majority of the race until another engine failure gave up the win to the Alfa Romeo SpA team. Despite the loss of the win, Ferrari still had a solid second-place finish in the race and signaled to the team they had turned the corner and the tables. Alfa Romeo's days of dominance were coming to an end…it was just a matter of when.

At the end of the season Ferrari ended up fifth in the driver's championship. The finish, however, didn't reveal how poised Ferrari was for the future. Formula One cars today undergo many changes throughout the season, no doubt inspired by Ferrari's 'always improving' mindset as displayed in the 1950 season, from the 125 right on up to the 375. Ferrari debuted four combinations of engines and chassis. Each model contributed to Ferrari's search for dominance and would help to shape Ferrari's legacy in racing and, especially Formula One. The Ferrari team perhaps best understood they weren't designing a chassis to be dominant, but in fact were pursuing building dominance. This meant continually improving, never settling or believing in one thing, or design, to hold the key. Dominance determined the chassis and the engine. It was the team's job to find out what that all looked liked. The models of the 1950 season stand as a testament to the Ferrari team's desire to always improve, to continue in the search for dominance. For Ferrari, it all started with these chassis designs and each subsequent design built upon the successes and failures of the previous. Never was it believed that one chassis had it all because each year presented the challenge of pushing the edge a little further back. The Ferrari team: Enzo, Gioacchino, Aurelio and the many others understood this. And the fact of Ferrari's legacy and records proves that drive, that focus, has never left.

By Jeremy McMullen

Ferrari 375 America
Ferrari 375 America

Total Production: 12

Total Production: 7
When people think of Ferrari and Formula One, often first impressions, or thoughts, stray to those championship winning cars Ferrari has had throughout its history. When people think of Ferrari in Formula One many think of the 312 that won twenty-seven races throughout the middle-to-late part of the 1970s, or, the team's dominant models from 2000 through 2004. Rarely to thoughts stray to those models that set the stage for Ferrari's championship winning machines. The Ferrari 375 was one of those models the needs to be remembered.

The motor racing community is rather small. A relatively small number of people will ever take part in auto racing of any type. Amongst the elite racing series, most of the competition comes from 'in-house'. That is to say individuals that were part of one team end up finding the capital and investments necessary in order to go start their own ventures. One of the earliest and best examples of this is Scuderia Ferrari.

Enzo Ferrari got his start creating cars for his own team, Scuderia Ferrari, back in the late twenties and thirties. Up until the later part of the thirties, Alfa Romeo had been funding Ferrari's work. Then, in 1938, it was decided by those within Alfa Romeo they would enter racing under their own name. This basically forced Enzo out after he disagreed with the decision. Working alongside Ferrari was a man by the name of Gioacchino Colombo. Colombo was then given the task of designing a race car for Alfa Romeo. What he designed was the 158, known as the 'Alfetta'. The 158 was incredibly successful before the war. After the war, Enzo hired Colombo to help him build an engine for his race cars. By 1950, Colombo was faced with the task of creating engines capable of helping Ferrari battle with his own 158 design that Alfa Romeo was racing. Gioacchino's answer to Ferrari's quest for power was the same as he had produced to power the 158/159. So, Ferrari's 125 chassis, as it was used in 1950, sported a 1.5 liter Roots supercharged V12 engine. The engine produced a lot of power, but absolutely guzzled down the gasoline. Ferrari wanted a powerful, but more economical alternative. If a car drank that much gasoline during a race any performance advantage could be eaten up just by time taken in the pits to refuel. This wasn't going to work.

Throughout 1950, Formula One's first season, Enzo Ferrari directed his workers to not try and do too much. Instead, he wanted his people to work on specific areas where the greatest improvements could be made. One obvious place to start was the engine. Aurelio Lampredi was hired to replace Gioacchino Colombo. Enzo directed Lampredi to build a larger-displacement engine to overcome the power short-comings that would happen due to removing the supercharger. The decision was to make an engine that fit the maximum size of natural aspiration the rules allowed. By the end of July, Ferrari had built its 340 F1.

The Ferrari 340 F1 housed a 4.1 liter V12 engine and had proven itself very capable. However, the design team wasn't done. By the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Ferrari debuted its new 375 F1 machine. The 375 had achieved the desired goal of having a 4.5 liter engine, although it didn't really produce any more power than the 4.1 liter V12 used in the model 340. Right from its beginnings, the 375 proved to be Ferrari's machine to help the race team achieve success. In that debut race, Alberto Ascari was able to finish second.

By 1951, the Ferrari 375 would not only become Alfa Romeo's main competition. It would, throughout the course of the season, in essence supplant the 158/159 as the dominant car for 1951.

The basic design of the 375 was similar to that of a cigar or a torpedo. The body, from head-on, was similar to a 'D' laid on its side. The nose was rounded and had a higher angle out at its tip, but then, would lessen as it traveled back and up toward the cockpit. The nose was dominated, as was the case in most designs of the time, by a large rounded grill that helped direct the flowing cooler air toward the large 60 degree V12 engine under the engine cowling. Some applications used a blunt front nose. The grill was then placed inside the opening of the blunt-nosed car. The grill would be flatter in this application.

The front suspension was made up of a double-wishbone and transverse lower leaf spring arrangement. The paneling was aluminum. The chassis was tubular. However, it had elliptical side members and tubular cross members.

The engine cowling was littered with numerous louvers on both the top and the sides. The large V12's of that day developed a good deal of power, but, much more energy was lost in heat. This heat was one huge culprit for failed engines in that day. Therefore, all of the built up heat had to be eradicated. This is the reason for the louvers in the engine cowling. The low pressure caused by the air flowing over these openings caused a suction effect that pulled the hot air out of the engine cowling. Also on top of the engine cowling was a single airbox meant to feed air into the engine. Air from this airbox on the top fed into three carburetors that fed the fuel and air into the cylinders to create somewhere around 350 brake horsepower.

A single, large exhaust pipe exited out of the chassis down low along the each side of the car. This exhaust pipe travelled back along the lower portion of the car, and then, gently angled down and slightly under the car. The exhaust actually left the pipes out past the rear wheels.

As was the case in that day and age, all of the brakes on the Ferrari 375 were drums. The drum had numerous fins machined into them to help cool them. The heat built up within the drum would be absorbed into these fins. The fins were exposed to the cooler passing air. This helped to cool the brakes. There was even a small air duct that protruded from between the brake drum housing and the chassis that helped direct more air directly into the drum to help with cooling.

Just prior to the cockpit, the lines of the bodywork design ascended upward at a sharper angle. At the very top of the deeply cut-out cockpit sat a small (variable in some cases) windscreen. To either side of the windscreen were attached two round rear-view mirrors.

If the driver wasn't too big, the lines of the car design would give the feel of not sitting too exposed, but rather, tucked down within the car. To either side of the driver were large channels that made getting in and out of the cockpit a relatively straight-forward affair. The cockpit was rather roomy because of the deep-cut sides. Right in front of the driver was the large wooden steering wheel with that famous prancing horse in the center. The gauges were few. The structure of the car, how it was built, was clearly visible within the cockpit. Through the center of the floor ran the rear-wheel driven transmission. The gearbox on the 375 was a four-speed manual.

Behind the driver, housed in a large piece of bodywork, was hidden the car's massive fuel tank. Though not as thirsty as a 1.5 liter supercharged V12, the 4.5 liter V12 still consumed healthy amounts of gasoline.

Right near either elbow of the driver were the large balloon rear tires. The rear suspension on the 375 was accomplished through a de Dion axle and a transverse lower leaf spring. This was used in tandem with two radius arms hydraulic lever dampers.

Right from the very start of the 1951 season, the 375 was victorious. Alberto Ascari took the pole for the Grand Prix of Siracusa in March of 1951. While Alberto's race came to an early end with an engine failure, the Ferrari 375 was still able to achieve victory when Luigi Villoresi drove one to victory over his teammate Dorino Serafini. Serafini was driving a Ferrari 212.

Villoresi made it two in a row for the 375 when he took the victory at the Grand Prix of Pau at the end of March. It was entirely possible there could have been two 375s at the top had it not been for a transmission problem in Ascari's car.
Two 375s finishing at the top was achieved at the next non-championship event in which Scuderia Ferrari took part. Once again, Alberto Ascari took the pole in his 375. In fact, Scuderia Ferrari's 375s started the Grand Prix of San Remo first, second and fourth. By the end of the 90 lap event, Ascari had achieved his first win of the season and Dorino Serafini followed home in second.

A G.A. Vanderwell owned Ferrari 375 was able to keep from floating away at the 3rd BRDC International Trophy race at Silverstone, England to take the victory. Torrential rains and flooding brought the event to an early end after only six laps, but, Reg Parnell truly dominated those six laps in the 375.

At the end of May, the Ferrari 375 squared off for the first time against its championship nemesis, the Alfa Romeo 159, at the Swiss Grand Prix. The Alfa Romeo took top honors during qualifying, although the 375 was well inter-mixed amongst the 159s. The race was similar. Fangio took the win in his 159. In fact, the Alfa Romeo 159 finished the Swiss Grand Prix first, third, fourth and fifth. However, Piero Taruffi was able to push his 375 up into second in order to prevent an absolute domination by Alfa Romeo.

At what was the second round of the championship in 1951 (not counting Indianapolis), The Alfa 159s took the top-two spots in qualifying, but the 375s sat third, fourth and fifth. Victory continued to allude the 375 drivers, but Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi were able to finish second and third. It was obvious to any one that Ferrari was beginning to catch up to Alfa's dominant 159.
Despite getting closer, if not equal, with the 159, frustration continued to follow into the next round of the championship, which was the European Grand Prix held at Reims, France. Alfa drivers, Fangio and Farina started one-two. They were followed by two Ferrari 375 drivers Ascari and Villoresi. Troubles hit Alfa Romeo throughout the length of the 77 lap race. However, Ferrari could break through. Luigi Fagioli's Alfa, driven by Juan Manuel Fangio, was able to take the victory. However, three Ferrari 375s finished second through fourth.

Alfa Romeo was only going to be able to hold back the 375 for so long. Finally, at the British Grand Prix, the dam burst. Jose Froilan Gonzalez took the pole for the race in his 375. Alberto would also start the race fourth in his 375. Gonzalez showed what the 375 was truly capable of as he beat his famous fellow Argentinean (Fangio) by almost a minute. Another Ferrari 375, driven by Luigi Villoresi, finished the race in third place. From this point on, Ferrari began their rise to prominence in Formula One.

Alberto made it two in a row for the 375 when he took the victory at the next round of the championship, which took place on the famous 14 mile long Nordschleife. Not only did Ascari win, he did so having started from the pole. It wasn't just for Ascari's win that Ferrari got to celebrate. The 375 helped carry Ferrari home to a first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth finish at the German Grand Prix.

Jose Froilan Gonzalez ended up making it three grand prix victories in a row for the 375 when he drove to victory at the non-championship Pescara Grand Prix during the middle of August in that year. Scuderia Ferrari 375 drivers started the race on the 15 mile long course first, second and fourth. By the end of the twelve laps, Gonzalez had lapped the field up to fourth place. Also, when Jose crossed the line to win the race it would take another seven minutes before the second place car of Louis Rosier would cross the line to finish the race. Third place was another two minutes behind.

Each of Ferrari's models throughout the 1950 and 51 seasons were stepping stones, in the mind of Enzo Ferrari, in order to reach the true championship contender. The Alfa Romeo 159 had continued to win races throughout the early part of the Formula One calendar. This led the Ferrari stable to not sit on their hands and not improve. Instead, the team continued to build upon the success of the 375 and produced the model 500, which was debuted at the non-championship Bari Grand Prix in the early part of September.

Fangio was able to start from the pole. He was also able to ride the good starting spot all the way to the victory. Piero Taruffi was called upon to drive the new Ferrari 500, while the rest of his teammates drove 375s. Piero was able achieve an impressive finish in third after starting the race from eleventh. Piero, however, was bested by Gonzalez driving a 375. Besides finishing the race second, Gonzalez was the only other driver Fangio wasn't able to lap by the end of the 65 lap race.
Fangio had been able to break up the string of victories the Ferrari drivers had been able to achieve in their 375. However, the streak would get right back on track at the next-to-last round of the championship.

Fangio and Farina managed to start the Italian Grand Prix from the first two spots on the grid, but that wasn't where they would finish. Alberto Ascari and Jose Gonzalez disappeared into the distance in their Ferraris. The 375s carried them to a one-two finish. The duo had been able to lap everyone. Ascari finished ahead of Jose by over twenty-one seconds. More importantly, the Ferrari 375 had been able to carry Scuderia Ferrari to a first, second, fourth and fifth place finish in Italy, at the notoriously attrition laden Italian Grand Prix.

Going into the last round of the championship for 1951, it is important to ask the question, 'What if Ferrari had bigger tires?' Incredible heat, both in the air and in track temperature, made all the difference in the championship. The last race wasn't a dogfight between Fangio and Ascari. The heat had decided who would win the championship. Ferrari suffered from delaminating tires due to the smaller tires inability to eradicate the oppressive heat. Had the team used larger tires, could the 375 been Ferrari's first championship winner?

Because such questions have to be asked, the Ferrari 375 is due much honor, perhaps more than it receives now against Ferrari's 312 or any produced throughout the early 21st century. At the very least, Ferrari's 375 must be remembered as the car that burst through and led Ferrari to its first victories in Formula One and set the stage for the team's early championship winning chassis. The 375 deserves to be remembered with such fond memories. In addition, it deserves to be remembered among Ferrari's most influential and successful models.

'Race Results by Year (1951)', ( Retrieved 22 December 2010.

'Race Results by Year (1950)', ( Retrieved 22 December 2010.

Wikipedia contributors, '1951 Formula One season', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 December 2010, 12:39 UTC, accessed 22 December 2010

Wikipedia contributors, 'Scuderia Ferrari', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 December 2010, 15:58 UTC, accessed 22 December 2010

Wikipedia contributors, 'Ferrari 375 F1', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 November 2010, 23:25 UTC, accessed 22 December 2010

'1951 Non-World Championship Grands Prix', ( 1951 Non-World Championship Grands Prix. Retrieved 22 December 2010.

'Ferrari 375 F1', ( Retrieved 22 December 2010.

By Jeremy McMullen

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