Niki Lauda’s 1975 Ferrari 312T could sell for $6M at Monterey 2019

1975 Ferrari 312T racing

When Niki Lauda joined Ferrari in 1974, he took nine of 11 pole positions during one dominant stretch, but the team couldn’t get past McLaren and finished second for the Formula One championship. For 1975, Lauda was determined to leave no stone unturned. He rolled up his sleeves and resolved to take the Ferrari 312B3 race car and transform it into the killer weapon he’d need to put Ferrari on top—the 1975 312T. 

Key to the 312T’s improved handling was its transversely-mounted transmission positioned ahead of the rear axle, but Lauda’s extensive off-season testing dialed in the car for a season of grueling competition. The result was a world championship for Ferrari in 1975—its first since 1964, marking the end of a significant drought. Ferrari was in sight of total victory again in 1976, losing by a hair to McLaren and James Hunt, as depicted in Ron Howard’s 2013 film Rush.

Now, for the first time, a 312T is stepping into the spotlight for a public auction; Gooding & Co. will sell chassis #022 at its Monterey 2019 event. It’s the car that Lauda piloted to five qualifying pole positions, victory in the French Grand Prix, second in the Dutch Grand Prix, and third at the German Grand Prix. (In the Spanish and South African GPs that year, the results were DNF for an accident and engine issues, respectively.)

“Never before has a 312T been presented at auction,” Gooding specialist Hans Wurl said in a statement, “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.”

Belting out 495 horsepower at a glorious 12,200 rpm from its 3.0-liter, twin-cam, four-valve, Lucas fuel-injected flat-12, the 312T represents Ferrari’s reclamation of racing success following years of dominance by British teams. Ferrari technical director Mauro Forghieri introduced the flat-12 engined 312 series in 1970, but the transversely-mounted transmission (thus, the 312T) was a turning point in the design, and it would go on (years later) to become a prominent feature in Ferrari road cars like the 348 and Mondial.

1975 Ferrari 312T
Gooding & Company / Marcel Massini

Although Lauda’s success in chassis #022 is undeniable, it was in 312T #023 that he truly dominated in 1975. In that car, he won the Grand Prix in Monaco, Belgium, Sweden, and the United States (as well as the Brazilian and South African GP in 1976).

French collector Jacques Setton bought chassis #022 in the 1980s and owned it for nearly 20 years before selling it on to a Dutchman named John Bosch. Gooding’s listing doesn’t go into much more detail on the provenance except to say that the car is now being offered “from a prominent American collection, where it has resided since 2008.” 

We do know, however, that the current owner performed a considerable restoration that included a full mechanical workup by Dennison International near Tacoma, Washington. Following the restoration, this 312T was presented at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it placed third in its class.

This car would be an ideal entry for the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco, which is a biennial event held two weeks before the F1 race. It would also be ideal for the FIA Masters Historic Formula 1 Race Series, of which there is both a European and American series of races. Having appeared at Pebble Beach in 2017, it is not eligible for that concours again until 2027, but other concours in the world are possible.

Gooding is estimating $6M–$8M for this sale, although no Ferrari 312T has sold at auction recently for comparison. In 2014, a 1978 Ferrari 312T3 sold at Bonhams’ Quail Lodge auction for $2.31M (in fair condition). More recently, a 1980 Ferrari 312T5 failed to sell at Bonhams’ 2017 Quail Lodge auction, with a high bid of $2.4M. Despite the fact that chassis #023 is the more desirable example, along with its third-in-class honors at the Pebble Beach concours in 2017, #022 should reach the $6 million low estimate.

With Niki Lauda’s recent passing, Ferrari 312T #022 will be under the spotlight, both as a physical representation of the beloved Austrian racer’s impact on motorsport, as well as a symbol of Ferrari’s resurgence to the forefront of racing’s ultimate stage in the second half of the 1970s.