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A Ferrari 312T that helped take Niki Lauda to his first Formula One title is heading to auction later this year – complete with wallet-busting price tag.
The 312T is one of the most significant F1 cars ever: as well as being the model that the late Austrian drove to the 1975 championship, it spawned a series of derivatives that dominated the next half-decade in the sport.
In total, 312Ts won 27 grands prix and scored three Drivers’ and four Constructors’ Championships over a five-year period – a remarkable record in the fast-moving world of F1.
No 312T has ever before been offered at auction, but that will change in August when chassis 022 hits the block as part of Gooding & Company’s Monterey sale. The price for all that history? A cool $6-8m (£4.7-6.28m).
The 312T was designed by Ferrari’s technical chief Mauro Forghieri and featured a revolutionary transverse-mounted gearbox – hence the ‘T’ in its name.
That positioning gave it improved cornering over much of the competition, and combined with Ferrari’s already-dominant flat-12 engine and an impressive aerodynamic package, gave the Scuderia high hopes that it would end a title drought stretching back to 1964.
Six examples of the first-gen 312T were built, of which the car up for sale, chassis 022, is one. And although not quite the most successful of the six – its sister car ‘023’ won six times across the 1975 and ’76 seasons – it undeniably played a key role in Lauda’s debut title run.
It made its competitive debut in the non-championship International Trophy at Silverstone in April 1975, with Lauda at the wheel, and the Austrian held held off Emerson Fittipaldi’s McLaren to cross the line first.
Next up was the Spanish Grand Prix, where Lauda was forced to retire after a collision with teammate Clay Regazzoni, and it was the latter man who raced it at the following Belgian GP, where it achieved its first F1 points with a fifth-place finish.
Lauda was back in the cockpit for the Dutch GP at Zandvoort in June and duly finished second, before 022 scored its one and only championship win at the French GP (pictured above).
After a third-place finish in Germany and a sixth in Austria, 022 sat out the remainder of the 1975 season, although it did race once more, with Regazzoni driving it to a non-finish in South Africa the following year.
Its F1 career over, chassis 022 was acquired by noted French collector Jacques Setton, who owned the car for nearly two decades. It was later sold to a collector in the Netherlands before arriving in an American collection, where it has been since 2008.
Its current owner gave it a respectful restoration, refinishing it in its Rosso Corsa livery and having all mechanical components rebuilt by Ferrari experts, then exhibited it at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it finished third in its class.
It will now enter the next stage of its life when it crosses the block at Gooding & Co’s Pebble Beach sale on 16-17 August.
“The Ferrari 312T is among the most important and dominant Grand Prix models in the marque’s celebrated history,” says Hans Wurl, Specialist at Gooding & Co.
“Never before has a 312T been presented at auction, and this example, having been an integral part in legendary Austrian driver Niki Lauda’s championship win, makes this a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is a consignment several years in the making, and it is a truly rare chance to acquire a Formula One car of this significance.”
Images: static photos – Mike Maez/Gooding & Company; French GP photo – LAT/Motorsport Images