Ferrari 375 Plus

Ferrari 375 Plus

Total Production: 8 1954 - 1954
Enzo Ferrari and Gioacchino Colombo worked together at Alfa Romeo. When Enzo started his own company in 1947, he brought Colombo with him. Colombo designed a V12 engine that would be used, in various displacements, to power every Ferrari through 1950. The 1.5-liter engine was heavily inspired by his work at Alfa Romeo, and with the help of a supercharger, would satisfy Grand Prix regulations. Enzo insisted on matting a five-speed gearbox to the engine, instead of the traditional four-speed unit.

The foundation of the modern Formula One began in 1946 with the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile's (FIA) standardisation of rules, and this was followed by a World Championship of Drivers in 1950. The championship series took place across six of the 'major' Grands Prix of Europe plus the Indianapolis 500 which was run to AAA National Championship regulations. Manufacturers included Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati, Tablot-Lago, ERA, Simca-Gordini, and BRM.

The Colombo-designed engines of the Alfa Romeo dominated the 1950 season, with their supercharged 158 winning all six championship Grands Prix in 1950. This prompted Enzo to fire Colombo, who returned back to Alfa Romeo. Aurelio Lampredi was hired in his place and was tasked to building a new engine for 1951. Instead of selecting the 1.5-liter supercharged displacement size, he selected the naturally aspirated 4.5-liter V12 size.

The bank of cylinders had single overhead camshafts which operated 2 valves per cylinder. The block and head were made from light alloy in efforts to reduce the overall weight.

The Ferrari 340 F1 car was given a 4.1-liter V12 engine which had proven itself very capable, but the team wasn't done. It was followed by the 375 F1, which had achieved the desired goal of 4.5-liters, although it didn't really produce any more power than the 4.1-liter V12. In comparison to the Alfa Romeo F1 cars, it was underpowered, but it was more fuel efficient which helped make it a contender.

At the start of the 1951 season, Alberto Ascari took the pole position for the Grand Prix of Siracusa in March. Sadly, Alberto's race came to an early end due to engine failure. The 375 driven by Luigi Villoresi, however, was driven 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. The 375 would continue to have a promising season, only losing the championship at the final race of the season.

At the end of the 1951 season, Alfa Romeo withdrew from Grand Prix competition. This left Ferrari without competition. The governing body decided to run the next two seasons under Formula Two regulations. Unfortunately for Ferrari, this meant Lampredi's engine no longer satisfied racing regulations.

With engines unable to be used for their desired purpose, Ferrari began exploring other uses. In 1953 and 1954, they were used to power the 375 MM sport racers. 26 examples were built and most were bodied by Pinin Farina. Most of the engines were slightly detuned by with of a different bore and stroke, to help alleviate some of the massive amounts of torque. The changes to the engine resulted in higher rev levels and a slight boost in horsepower.

Five 375 Plus models were built, the first example being 0384 AM. During its factory racing career it scored a victory at Silverstone with driver Jose Froilan Gonzalez. Victories were achieved by other examples at Agadir and at the 1954 LeMans. Perhaps its most significant victory of all was Umberto Maglioli's at the Carrera Panamericana.
By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2018