The Ferrari 196/246 SP was produced from 1961 though 1963 with less than ten examples being created. The design was very untraditional for Enzo Ferrari, and against his strongest belief that the horse should come before the cart, meaning the engine should be placed in the front. Another departure from the traditional Ferrari was the use of a Vittorio Jano designed V-6 engine. The six-cylinder engines were more compact, lightweight, and more fuel efficient when compared to the traditional Colombo designed 12-cylinder engines.
With the engine mounted longitudinally mid-ship, optimal weight distribution and handling was achieved. The chassis was the traditional tubular frame supported by wishbone suspension. A five-speed manual gearbox provided power to the rear wheels. The body design was simple, yet elegant and effective. This combination was good enough to capture overall victories at Targa Florio and the Nurburgring 1000 km. At Le Mans in 1963, Ferrari captured the first mid-engined victory with a 250 P, a close sibling of the 246 SP.
The first 246 SP chassis constructed was #0790. In 1961, it was successfully campaigned at Targa Florio. A year later it scored victories at the Nurburgring 1000 km. It was later converted into a 196 SP. In modern times, it has been raced at the Cavallino Classic.
From 1961 through 1963, engine modifications were made and inserted into existing and new chassis. Because of this, specifications vary. Four chassis were constructed between 1962 and 1963.
Even though a limited number were produced, their accomplishments are legendary and their design was revolutionary. The knowledge achieved through the design and development was used in future Ferrari projects and their continued domination at races such as LeMans.By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2006
When Enzo Ferrari introduced the engine to power his vehicles in 1949, it was a twelve-cylinder unit that displaced 1.5-liters. By 1953 the engine size had grown to 5-liters. During the mid-1950s the focus shifted towards a six-cylinder unit that was lighter, smaller, more fuel efficient, and more compact. They compact unit could sit lower to the grow, power smaller vehicles, and could run longer on the same amount of fuel requiring less pit stops. Realizing this potential, Enzo commissioned their new chief engineer, Aurelio Lampredi, to design a four-cylinder engine to replace the Colombo V12. Its priority was escalated when the sport governing body made the decision to run the World Championship under 1.5-liter Formula 2 regulations in 1955.
Lampredi created 2- and 2.5-liter versions, both formed from light alloy and featuring double camshaft heads. The engines were very similar and shared many of the same parts. The 2-liter version was ready by 1952 and was used in F2 competition. In the capable hands of Alberto Ascari, it brought Ferrari another World Championship after winning six of the seven championship races. The following year, another World Championship was earned by Ferrari.
The engine was not solely reserved for Ferrari's racing program. It was used to power their sportscars, much to the enthusiasm of their customers. Enzo's son, Alfredo 'Dino' was a strong proponent of the V6 engine and worked closely with Jano on the project. He is often given credit for the design of the Ferrari V6 unit, Unfortunately, Dino's life would come to an untimely end in 1956 and would never see the completion of the monoposto. In honor of Dinos life, Enzo had all V6-engine Ferrari's named 'Dino'.
The design of the V6 unit was similar to the Lancia V8 which is understandable due to Ferrari's prior association with Lancia. The V12 engines worked well at a 60-degree angle and this was true for the V6 engines. But at this angle, the carburetor would not fit, so it was enlarged to a sixty-five degree angle and fitted with three double Weber carburetors. The result was an engine that produced 175 horsepower with potential for more.
The vehicle was called the 156 Dino F2 and it featured a Ferrari four-speed manual gearbox and a DeDion axle in the rear and wishbones in the front. In typical Ferrari fashion, it was fitted with drum brakes to keep the car in the drivers control. Small tubes were used to create the chassis and clothed in an aluminum lightweight body.
In April of 1957 the Dino 156 F2 made its racing debut at the Naples Grand Prix. Luigi Musso was able to qualify the car in third position which was the same position he would end the race. In first and second place were the large engined Ferrari F1 cars, each with 2.5-liter V8 engines. A few months later Maurice Trintingant would score the car its first overall victory. Enzo was so impressed with the cars abilities, he assigned his engineers the job of creating an F1 version for the 1958 season.
The F1 unit was initially given a 1.9-liter engine which later increased to 2.2 and eventually 2.4-liters. In its inaugural debut, the 1.9-liter units were driven by Musso and Peter Collins at Modena to an impressive 2nd and 4th place finish. Even though it was a non-championship race, it was a good indication of the cars abilities. With further tuning and larger engines, the cars would score important victories for the prancing horse marque.
The Formula 1 car was given a chassis design similar to the F2 car, though its size and wheelbase varied, even from car to car. A displacement size of 2.4-liters was chosen for the engine and produced around 270 horsepower. The independent rear suspension, along with other aspects of the car, were continuously changed throughout the season. One of the big improvements was the adaptation of disc brakes which helping in stopping power.
Before the start of the 1958 season, new regulations were announced that banned alcohol fuels giving the Ferrari racer a significant advantage. It had been designed to run on regular fuels whereas many of the competition required signification modifications and testing in order to satisfy the new rules and be competitive.
The opening race of the season was the Argentinean Grand Prix. Three Ferrari cars were ready and driven by Musso, Collins and Mike Hawthorn. Many of their competition had boycotted the race claiming the new regulations were unfair and had been imposed too late. A British driver, Stirling Moss, did partake in the race driving a 2-liter four-cylinder Cooper 'Special' which would prove to be the quickest of the day. The following three races were won by Ferraris, tough they were non-Championship races. In many of the races that followed, it would be the mid-engine Coopers that crossed the finish line first. They were well crafted machines with their only Achilles heal being their lack of power. The Dino's, on the other hand, suffered from significant understeer due mostly to the brakes and the chassis. They were dangerous and claimed the lives of three drivers that season including Musso and Collins. Hawthorn managed to have a fairly consisting season winning many podium spots and even an overall victory at the French Grand Prix at Reims. This consistency earned him enough points to beat Moss in the Driver World Championship standings. The Constructor's Championship went to Vanwall.
At the end of the season, Hawthorn announced his retirement. Sadly, a few weeks later he was killed in a traffic accident.
For 1959, the mid-engined Coopers were fitted with a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder Coventry Climax engine giving them the power to overcome any shortcomings they may have had in the past. The Ferrari's were given Dunlop tires and disc brakes to help solve the understeer problems. Only one veteran Ferrari driver was retain, and it was Phil Hill. Two experienced drivers, Behra and Brooks and rookie Brit Cliff Allison were added to the team.
The first race of the season was a non-championship race and an advantage for the British built Coopers, as it was on their home turf at Aintree. As the checkered flag fell, it was two Ferrari's driven by Behra and Brooks scoring an important one-two victory. The first Championship race was won by Jack Brabham in a Cooper. Ferrari's would win a few times throughout the season, but only on high speed tracks that favored their cars, such as at Avus and Reims. On the slower speed tracks, the Coopers superior handling clinched them the victory every time. Cooper would claim the Constructors Championship and their driver Brabham won the Drivers Championship. Tony Brooks and Ferrari scored second.
For 1960, many other marques joined in Cooper revolution with their own mid-engined machines. Ferrari remained as one the only front-engined competitors with their three-year old 246 Dino. The Dino was now a very polished machine with many of its shortcomings worked out. Still, it was no match for the superior balanced mid-engined machines except for on the high-speed tracks. Phil Hill would scored the only team victory during the season and the final for a front-engined car in F1 competition.
In Ferrari's Formula 2 program during the 1960 season, they had tried a mid-mounted V6 engine with some success. They had placed the engine mid-ship for some races in their F1 program but had limited success and required more tuning and refinement.
Near the close of the 1960 season, the governing body announced new regulations that limited displacement to just 1.5-liters. Ferrari began work on a new car from the ground-up. The V6 Dino engine was good for around 185 horsepower and was enough to claim another World Driver's and Constructors Championship for Ferrari.
During the three years of competition, around nine examples of the 246 F1 Dino cars had been created. When it was clear the cars were obsolete at the conclusion of the 1960 season, the remaining cars were disassembled and used for parts and scraps. At least one car was spared this fate; it was modified and used in the Tasman Series. The modifications included removing the engine and replacing it was a V12 engine that displaced 3-liters. The car was chassis number 0007 and had been used by Phil Hill to score his Italian Grand Prix win. When it was sold to Pat Hoare of New Zealand after the 1960 season it was renumbered to 0788 which was the number on the engine. The engine was similar to the ones found in the 250 TRs.
Hoare raced the car for a number of years until rule changes at the end of 1963 made the car obsolete. The car was given a 250 GTO body and used for road use. The parts removed in order to make the modifications were retained and eventually made their way back onto the vehicle in the 1970s when it was restored to its former configuration.
Also in the 1970s, several replicas were created using the surviving 246 Dino engines. One is on display at the Biscaretti Museum in Turin. Many of the other recreations are frequent competitors at historic racing events.By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2015