This Ferrari Had The McLaren F1's Three-Seater Layout 26 Years Earlier

Wow, if it isn't another Ferrari expected to change hands at about a zillion dollars. It's getting boring, isn't it? Probably not this time, as I'd argue the 1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale "Tre Posti" is speciale indeed.

This is Ferrari's mid-engined V12 supercar that was built six years before Enzo Ferrari himself agreed on building a mid-engined V12 supercar. Thank Sergio Pininfarina and America's most famous Ferrari importer, Luigi Chinetti.

As some of you pointed out on Oppositelock, it's also the car that introduced the three-seat layout by putting the driver in the middle and the passenger slightly behind some, oh, 26 years before the world was shocked by the same solution in the McLaren F1.

This Ferrari Had The McLaren F1's Three-Seater Layout 26 Years Earlier

Now, it's going up for grabs at Pebble Beach and auctioneers Gooding & Company interviewed Luigi Chinetti to learn more about its unique history:

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...

Read the full interview here.

This Ferrari Had The McLaren F1's Three-Seater Layout 26 Years Earlier

Never mind taxes, this thing is worth driving home naked...

This Ferrari Had The McLaren F1's Three-Seater Layout 26 Years Earlier

This Ferrari Had The McLaren F1's Three-Seater Layout 26 Years Earlier

All images copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company. Photos by Brian Henniker.