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Coachwork by Pininfarina
*Please note this car is sold on a bill of sale.
From the Chinetti Family CollectionLuigi Chinetti, Greenwich, Connecticut (acquired new in 1967)Marvyn Carton, Purchase, New York (acquired from the above in August 1967)Jan de Vroom, Palm Beach, Florida (acquired from Chinetti Motors in May 1968)Chinetti Family, Greenwich, Connecticut (acquired from the above in 1969)
Paris Auto Salon, Paris, France, September 1966Earls Court Motor Show, London, England, October 1966Brussels Motor Show, Brussels, Belgium, January 1967Geneva Motor Show, Geneva, Switzerland, March 1967Concorso d’Eleganza di Firenze, Florence, Italy, May 1967Imported Automobile & Sports Car Show, Los Angeles, California, September 1967
INTRODUCTION: THE 1966 FERRARI 365 P BERLINETTA SPECIALE “TRE POSTI”
Gooding & Company is proud to present the 1966 365 P Berlinetta Speciale, chassis 8971, a magnificent Pininfarina-bodied Ferrari “P” car whose extraordinary specification and spectacular three-seat, central-drive layout represent the ultimate expression of Italian automotive design in the mid-1960s.
This brief introduction is intended to place Tre Posti in a wider historical context and illustrates its intimate connection with the three great names to which it is most closely tied: Enzo Ferrari, Sergio Pininfarina, and Luigi Chinetti.
I. THE FERRARI ELEMENT Between 1961 and 1967, the development of Ferrari racing cars underwent a dramatic transformation.
In 1961, the new 156 F1, powered by a mid-mounted V-6, won the FIA Manufacturers’ Cup and the World Drivers’ Championship. Consequently, Ferrari’s first mid-engine sports prototype – the 246 SP – was built around a Grand Prix-derived 2.4-liter V-6. This model found immediate success, winning both the Targa Florio and the Nürburgring 1000 Km.
The 1961 and 1962 seasons convinced Enzo Ferrari of the potential of a mid-engine sports car powered by his traditional three-liter V-12. In 1963, he unveiled the 250 P, a model that went on to win the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Nürburgring 1000 Km, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
By 1965, Enzo Ferrari had created several iterations of rear-engine V-12 sports prototypes. There were the 250 LMs for private customers and the sophisticated 275 and 330 P2s for Scuderia Ferrari. The P2s featured an advanced chassis, inspired by the championship-winning 158 Formula 1 cars, with Grand Prix-style suspension, cast-alloy wheels, and double overhead-camshaft engines. Yet another “P” car – the 365 P2 – was built for Ferrari’s leading privateers, spearheaded by Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team. This model was nearly identical to the works cars, except that it was powered by a massive, single overhead-cam 4.4-liter engine.
Despite the immense success of his sports prototypes and Formula 1 cars, Enzo Ferrari refused to build a mid-engine production road car with a 12-cylinder engine until 1973. He maintained the belief that such a car was for professional drivers only; it was “too dangerous” for mere private customers.
II. THE PININFARINA ESSENTIALS For as long as Pininfarina has designed and constructed coachwork for Ferrari automobiles, the firm’s creations have been characterized by their elegance, simplicity, quality, and innovation.
Sergio Pininfarina, the son of company founder Battista “Pinin” Farina, had always maintained strong ties to the Ferrari marque. In fact, his first independent design, in 1959, took the form of a one-off 400 Superamerica Coupe.
In the early 1960s, the collaboration between Enzo Ferrari and Sergio Pininfarina reached its zenith. Under Sergio’s direction, Pininfarina was responsible for a succession of influential designs for road and racing models, such as the 250 SWB Berlinetta, 250 GT Lusso, 250 LM, 275 GTB, 400 Superamerica, and 500 Superfast. During this period, Pininfarina also produced several significant Ferrari show cars, including the 330 GTC Speciale and Superfast I, II, III, and IV.
Between 1965 and 1967, Sergio Pininfarina presented Enzo Ferrari with a series of spectacular show cars based on contemporary mid-engine racing chassis: the Dino Berlinetta Speciale, the 365 P Berlinetta Speciale, and the Dino 206 Competizione.
As a result, Ferrari introduced its first mid-engine production model, the Pininfarina-designed Dino 206 GT in 1967. It marked the beginning of a new era.
III. LUIGI CHINETTI'S INFLUENCE Born in Milan in 1901, Luigi Chinetti moved to Paris in the 1920s where he worked as a representative of Alfa Romeo automobiles and began a successful racing career. One of the era’s great drivers, Chinetti won Le Mans in 1932 and 1934.
His love of beautiful coachbuilt automobiles was influenced by Joseph Figoni, a fellow Italian expatriate in Paris. In the 1930s, Figoni and Chinetti were responsible for the design and sale of the former’s masterpiece – the Talbot-Lago Teardrop Coupe.
In 1940, Chinetti came to the US as team manager for Lucy O’Reilly Schell, a Paris-based American heiress who entered two Maserati racing cars in the Indianapolis 500. During this trip, the war in Europe intensified causing Chinetti to remain in the US. During the war years he worked with Alfred Momo at the famed J.S. Inskip Rolls-Royce company in New York.
In 1947, Chinetti traveled from New York to Italy and met with his old friend from the Alfa Romeo days, Enzo Ferrari. There, he influenced Ferrari to begin building automobiles largely based on Chinetti’s faith and ability to sell them to his international coterie of wealthy sportsmen. Ferrari was impressed and Chinetti became his official importer for North America, all the while maintaining a showroom in Paris through the early 1950s.
Beginning with half of a floor in the Fergus Garage in Manhattan, Luigi Chinetti Motors introduced the Ferrari marque to the US. He made sure Ferraris were in the hands of those with the ability to win races – sportsmen such as Briggs Cunningham and Jim Kimberly.
Chinetti was to become the most influential Ferrari importer in the world and a key figure in the development of important models, including the California Spider and the NART Spider.
Beyond his ability to place automobiles, Luigi Chinetti was an integral part of Ferrari’s racing successes. In 1949, Chinetti drove a 166 MM Barchetta to an overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, giving Ferrari its first ever win at this prestigious race.
In 1958, he founded the North American Racing Team (NART). In 1964, NART campaigned a Ferrari 158 and 1512 in the final two rounds of the Formula 1 World Championship, scoring the points that allowed John Surtees to win the World Drivers’ Championship. The next year, a NART-entered 250 LM won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, marking Ferrari’s last win at the famed endurance race.
IV. THE 365 P BERLINETTA SPECIALE “TRE POSTI” IN DETAIL Constructed in 1966, the 365 P Berlinetta Speciale was the first mid-engine, 12-cylinder Ferrari designed specifically for use as a road car. Using a Ferrari 365 P2 chassis (8971) as its foundation, Pininfarina designed a radical Berlinetta body with a central driving position and distinctive three-seat layout. In a 1966 press release, Pininfarina described the 365 P Berlinetta Speciale as “a world-wide novelty.” Its groundbreaking design has since been attributed to both Aldo Brovarone, Pininfarina’s director of design, and Sergio Pininfarina.
Aesthetically, this car has the principal and characteristic lines of the Dino Special Berlinetta of 1965, though offers entirely different proportions owing to the wider track of its 12-cylinder chassis.
Immediately, certain elements of the design stand out. There is a subtle asymmetrical beltline that runs between the wheel wells separating the upper and lower sections of the body. The beautifully sculpted engine lid – hinged at the rear of the roof, just aft of the passenger headrests – is elegantly finished with a raised center section and a wonderful polished-metal air intake reminiscent of a fine architectural model. The roof section is entirely transparent. It is made of a special athermic glass, which used a bronze-tinting technique that was state-of-the-art in 1966.
Other features are more familiar, as they forecast the look of future Ferraris. The section of curved glass behind the passenger compartment was eventually brought into production, as were the unique taillight assemblies, each with three small circular lights.
Though it was a radical design in its era, the 365 P Berlinetta Speciale is unmistakably the work of Pininfarina and features iconic Ferrari design cues, such as the traditional oval-shaped eggcrate grille and covered headlamps. Even the extraordinary flying buttresses, which seamlessly rise up from the tail to form the roof section, recall some of the great custom-bodied Ferraris of the mid-1950s.
Finished in Gardenia White, the 365 P Berlinetta Speciale showcases its many unique features, each demonstrating Pininfarina’s mastery of, and attention to, detail.
Unlike many design studies, the 365 P Berlinetta Speciale was originally conceived as a fully functioning automobile, suitable for customer use. As such, the cockpit layout was a major element of the design, and it is surely among the most remarkable interiors ever created for an automobile.
The greatest innovation is the three-seat layout, which places the driver in the center of the car, ahead of a passenger seat flanking each side. The controls are placed in the center of the car, with a large speedometer and tachometer in front of the driver and auxiliary gauges off to the sides. For improved ingress and egress the driver’s seat articulates away from the gear lever.
The cockpit is beautifully finished and luxuriously appointed with a classic three-spoke steering wheel, electrically operated windows, and long-grain “elastic leather” upholstery, specially selected to resist wear. In a wonderful play of color and material, the black upholstery is contrasted with bright red carpets; a polished, wood-grain steering wheel; and highly textured brightwork.
The 365 P Berlinetta Speciale possesses a number of details that speak to its motor sports origins. Exterior features, such as the outside fuel filler, specially cast five-spoke cast-aluminum wheels, and large single windscreen wiper, were taken directly from Ferrari’s contemporary sports racing and Formula 1 cars. Interior details – such as a seamlessly integrated chrome roll bar, competition pedal box, and gated shifter – are further hints at Tre Posti’s thoroughbred bloodline.
The original 365 P Berlinetta Speciale (8971) was so successful that a second example (8815) was later built for the personal use of Gianni Agnelli, head of the FIAT empire. Both of these cars survive today. The Chinetti family has owned 8971 since 1969. The Agnelli car, 8815, is part of an important private collection with a focus on the finest coachbuilt Italian automobiles.
Tre Posti is a masterpiece of mid-century industrial art that represents the intersection of three great names working at the height of their powers: Enzo Ferrari, Sergio Pininfarina, and Luigi Chinetti. The 365 P Berlinetta Speciale is one of the greatest in a long line of coachbuilt Ferraris – the prototypical supercar – and one of the most enduring sports car designs of the 1960s.
By any standard, Tre Posti is among the most important Ferraris of all time.
AN INTERVIEW WITH LUIGI CHINETTI JR.: DAVID GOODING AND LUIGI CHINETTI JR. ON “TRE POSTI”
What are the origins of Tre Posti? Did your father commission it? Or, was it a joint venture between Ferrari and Pininfarina?
I really believe that Tre Posti was primarily a Pininfarina project. Enzo Ferrari refused to build a mid-engine road car, so Pininfarina built a number of concepts using competition chassis. They tried this first with the Dino prototypes before attempting a 12-cylinder car. Pininfarina was trying to prove to the old man that you could build a mid-engine V-12 Ferrari for the road.
Tre Posti was a real statement from Pininfarina. It was a groundbreaking design in its day and, it was the show car in 1966 and 1967. The car was a very big deal at the time – it was pictured in all the magazines. Think of what else was on the road in 1966, and here was this ultra-modern, 180 mph, three-seat Ferrari with a V-12 engine in the middle. There was nothing else like it. It was truly a Formula 1 car for the road. Had Ferrari built it, nobody would ever have given a second thought to the Miura.
Tre Posti was the belle of the ball. It was first shown at Paris in 1966 and then made a world tour. In 1967, it was at Earls Court in London, the Brussels Motor Show, and the Geneva Motor Show. Pininfarina entered it in the Concours d’Elegance in Florence and then we sent it to Los Angeles for the Imported Automobile & Sports Car Show. These were all the big events of the day.
What did Pininfarina use as the foundation for Tre Posti?
On the invoice, Ferrari called the chassis a 365 P or a 365 P2 – those were the “P” cars that NART was running during the 1965 and 1966 seasons. Ferrari gave those big 4.4-liter cars to us and to Swaters. They were great cars, very reliable, and nearly as fast as the works P3s. In 1965, we won Reims with Pedro Rodríguez and Jean Guichet driving a 365 P2.
It has the big single-cam engine that was in the 365 P2s, and there was a detuned version of it in the 365 California. The engine in Tre Posti is probably somewhere in between. It’s got dry sump lubrication – like the race car – but has three Weber carbs and an air cleaner; so, I’m sure they wanted it to make more torque and be friendlier for road use. Also, they gave it that odd chassis number (8971) because it was designed as a street car.
I’ve noticed that it has all the features you would expect to see on a “P” car. Components like the big, riveted fuel tanks and the spare tire strapped down over the transaxle.
It’s really not far off from what the racing cars were like. It has the same windscreen wiper, the five-spoke Grand Prix wheels – even a full chrome roll bar. You sit in the center with the gated shifter to your right and that great, big glass roof above. Behind the wheel, you really feel like you’re in a “P” car.
Whenever I think of the three-seat layout, I remember that great cartoon published in an issue of Road & Track.
Yeah, Russell Brockbank did a great rendition of Tre Posti. It doesn’t have a caption, it’s just the car parked on the side of the road, outside of Rome. The driver is in the car, but both doors are flung open, and two women – the passengers – are really going at it: Rolling around, one’s pulling the other’s hair and the other one is swinging a purse. That was always the joke – you could drive the car with your wife and your mistress at the same time. Or, your wife and mother-in-law.
When did Chinetti Motors acquire Tre Posti?
My father bought it in May 1967. He was very impressed by the project and had to have it.
I’ve seen the original invoices, and this was a hugely expensive car in its day. Something like $20,000?
Yes, it was extremely expensive. We were sent two invoices – one from Ferrari and one from Pininfarina. As usual, they were made out to my mother Marion, who was my father’s partner. The Ferrari invoice was for a 365/P2 chassis – that was $6,350 – and the cost of special tooling for an additional $3,250. So, $9,600 total. The body was even more expensive – it was $11,560, which included the cost of tooling – things like the body buck and the special bronzetinted glass were outrageously expensive.
When was Tre Posti delivered? Had you seen it over in Europe?
It came over in August 1967. It was flown over on Alitalia and we picked it up at Kennedy Airport. When it arrived in New York, it was the first time I had seen it in person.
Did Ferrari send it over?
It came out of Torino, so Pininfarina must have shipped it directly to New York.
What did you do with it once it arrived?
Well, we had already made an agreement to sell it to Marvyn Carton. He was a good client of ours at the time and an executive at Allen & Company – the famous investment bank. His office was in the New York Stock Exchange Building. He was a very nice, unassuming person, but he always had great things – specially built boats that he would take on the Transpacific Yacht Race.
I remember he had a neat yellow 500 Superfast that he traded in against it. We have a copy of the invoice and it shows that we valued the Superfast at $8,000 and Tre Posti at $26,000. A Superfast was huge money then, you really had to be somebody to have a car like that, so this car was in an entirely different world. It had to have been the most expensive car we sold up to that point.
When did he take delivery?
We delivered Tre Posti to him after it came back from the Los Angeles Motor Show. That was in September, and part of our agreement with Pininfarina was that we would show the car in California. It was really the star of the show there. The car was delivered to us as a true European show car and we had to do some minor things to make it road legal. We had the outside filler moved from the cockpit to an external position aft of the side glass. It made people nervous having the filler neck inside the cockpit. Little things like that. Of course, we put a NART badge on it as well – that was always our signature touch and, after all, we had raced those 365 P2s pretty successfully.
How long did Carton have Tre Posti? Was it his only car at the time?
Well, in retrospect, I think Tre Posti was too much car for him, and maybe he didn’t quite understand what he was getting into. When we first sold it to him, he asked us to install an air-conditioning system. That was our first clue that he wasn’t going to own it for a long time. Then he complained about not being able to park it. Being a center-seat driving position, he couldn’t ever judge where the curb was. In March 1968, he sold the car back to us, and we gave him a 365 GT 2+2 – one of the first to arrive. That was more approachable for him. It had air-conditioning.
So it wasn’t a great commuter car for New York City.
Not really. After all, it was basically a “P” car, so it’s not ideal if you just want to cruise around Manhattan, take it out for dinner and drinks. That said, I never found it hard to drive. I used to drive 250 LMs around Manhattan all the time, no problem. The Westside Highway and FDR drive were the straightaways and Central Park was the real racecourse; but I knew those cars well and had raced them, so it was never a problem for me to drive a car like that in the city. We got away with murder. You could never do that today.
What happened to Tre Posti after it came back to Chinetti Motors?
We sold it to Jan De Vroom later that year. He had a brand-new 275 GTB/4, so we sold him the 365 P and took the four-cam in on trade.
De Vroom was a good client of yours, correct?
Oh, yeah, Jan De Vroom. Yeah, he was quite the character. He was this tall, blond European – born in Dutch Indonesia – and for years was very close with the Marquesa de Cuevas. Her name was Margaret, and she was the granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller – very eccentric and unusual, but she probably was one of the wealthiest women in the world at the time.
I’m not entirely sure what agreement they had, but she treated him like a son. I think they both had a passion for Mozart. She put him in business selling imported Italian glass and gave him a really beautiful house in Palm Beach. It was on El Bravo Way.
De Vroom’s money came from Margaret de Cuevas?
You know, I’m not entirely sure where exactly his money came from, but it was never in short supply. It must have come from her. De Vroom was a very good long-standing customer and every year we sold him the latest, top-of-the-line car. I remember he had that one-off 4.9 Superfast. That was a really great car. Along with George Arents, De Vroom was some of the money behind NART during the early years.
How was he as a driver? I know that he raced some significant cars.
As far as his racing career goes, that was more of a hobby. He only raced from ’56 to about ’58 and was really more of a guy who would show up to Nassau for the parties. From memory, he did race a 290 MM and a 500 TRC, so he must have been pretty competent.
How long did De Vroom own Tre Posti?
Well, he bought it in May 1968, and it came back to us that September after a service at the factory. He really just used the car for a summer at his place in Cannes, which I think was a de Cuevas house. It was called Villa San Lorenzo and we stayed there occasionally, before or after the Paris show. In those few months, he probably put more miles on the car than anyone else ever did.
That seems like it would have been the best place to use the car.
It would be a great car to drive through Europe. Actually, he had two Ferraris over there – he also owned a 365 California at the same time. He was really quite something – always had a good time. After the Tre Posti, he bought a Daytona and a Dino from us. Those were really his last Ferraris.
Going back to Tre Posti, what did you do with the car once it returned from Europe?
We’ve had it ever since. It spent some time in the showroom and then my father kept it at his home garage in Greenwich. I got it after he passed away.
Did you ever drive it much?
Actually, in all these years, I’ve probably only driven the car a few hundred miles. It was always this revered car and was so unique that we didn’t want anything to ever happen to it. It had that expensive glass roof and everything was custom-made. Even the wheels were specially cast. It wasn’t like a production car that you wanted to just take for a spin – it was more like a sculpture.
At Chinetti Motors, you and your father had some of the greatest Ferraris pass through. What was it about Tre Posti that so impressed your father?
We had our choice of everything. We owned every race car – TRs, GTOs, LMs, P cars, 512s, you name it. They were all great, but they were really just tools. For us, those cars were just for winning races. Tre Posti was different. It’s a pretty nifty car I must admit. It’s a work of art – a true Pininfarina masterpiece. Tre Posti and the 2.9 Alfa were my father’s prized possessions. They were queen of the hop.
More recently you’ve shown the car. I remember seeing it at Pebble Beach and the Louis Vuitton Concours in New York City. Where else have you shown it?
Actually, the first time we really had it out was at Meadow Brook in the late 1990s. You saw it in New York in ’97 and then we shipped it over to Europe in 2000. We had it at the Louis Vuitton Concours in Bagatelle and then it went over to Goodwood for the Revival. That was really fun because it was used as the pace car there. In 2001, we did the Ferrari Festival at Brands Hatch and then shipped it back to California.
Is that when you had it at Pebble Beach?
Pebble Beach was in 2004. In 2001, we had it at Concorso Italiano – they had a great display of Pininfarina concept cars. We had a special moment there. I was with Sergio Pininfarina and Piero Ferrari, and we all drove across the stage together in Tre Posti. Here we were, all three of us, in a car that meant so much to our families. Sergio always said that this car was his all-time favorite design. I’ve seen it incorrectly attributed to Aldo Brovarone. Sergio did this car for sure, and he loved it.
It’s also been part of several museum displays. I’ve had it at the Chrysler Museum of Art, the Saratoga Museum, and the Simeone Museum. It’s been in just about every book on Ferrari and Pininfarina. Tre Posti never fails to draw a crowd.
I’ve always been impressed by it. Not just for its design and history, but also because of its condition.
The car is pretty much original and has about 7,900 km from new. Years ago I had my friend Wayne Carini repaint it. He used the correct Glasurit paint and the car looks just right. Other than that, it’s never been touched. The interior is entirely original, as is the chassis and engine. It has aged beautifully. It’s really rare to own a car like this.
This car has been a part of your family since 1967. What does it mean to you, and what would you like to impart to the next owner?
To my thinking, Tre Posti is one of the greatest Ferraris of all time and one of the great works of automotive art – plain and simple. It’s the ultimate racing car of its day wearing this beautifully designed and built Pininfarina body. It’s very special.
I’ve known this car for over 45 years and remain amazed by it. I still find new features and details that I’ve never noticed before. Its not just about first impressions with this car – it grows on you. Sometimes I find myself thinking about the car, the people that have been associated with it, the places it has been.
Special cars have that quality – the longer that you are around them, the more you come to appreciate them.
My friend, Dr. Fred Simeone, who published The Stewardship of Historically Important Automobiles, told me, “This car has it all.” I couldn’t agree more.