The “Beast of Maranello” in Cavallino 231 (June 1)
The Story of an Engine
The 412 MI was a remarkable one-off car that was made up of legitimate parts in-period by Ferrari to fit any number of rules and regulations for various events, but somehow managed to stay whole and not be consigned to a scrap heap. Its power was always awesome (as it was meant to be). It was a tipo 141, 60 ° V-12, front mounted, with a bore and stroke of 77 X 72 mm, a very powerful light alloy racing engine with four overhead camshafts, 24 spark plugs, over 100 feet of spark plug wire, six Weber twin-choke downdraft carburetors, two valves per cylinder, two distributors, and displacing 4023 cubic centimeters. It was capable of delivering up to 390 horsepower at a whopping 8000 rpm.
From expert David Seibert: “The 412 MI is one of my favorite Ferraris. It was built for John Von Neumann for the 1958 fall pro season, for Phil Hill to drive against the Scarabs. At the Times Grand Prix at Riverside in 1958, Phil in the 412 and Chuck Daigh in a Scarab traded the lead multiple times on every lap (until the 412 DNF’d and Daigh won). It was sponsored and promoted heavily by the LA Times, and 90,000 spectators watched, possibly the largest crowd ever in US road racing history.”
From author Alan Boe: “Over the winter of 1958/59, the car went back to Maranello to replace its large drum brakes with Dunlop discs, becoming one of the first Ferraris to receive disc brakes, and to change its paint color from the factory’s rosso corsa to von Neumann’s favored livery, silver with red numerals, as you see it today. On July 19, 1959, the von Neumann 412 MI was back at Riverside for the Kiwanis Grand Prix where von Neumann’s shop manager, Richie Ginther, running on race number 211, finished first overall.”
Seibert again: “The 412 was a clean-out-the-parts-room special. The chassis was from the 312 S, an oddball 3.1 liter TR prototype; the engine was from the Portago 335 S that crashed in the Mille Miglia. The engine was used in an open wheel car (probably a 246 F1 chassis) also called the 412 MI for the “Race of Two Worlds” at Monza. I've seen a copy of the build sheets, on which someone wrote Tipo Bastarda”.
Boe again: “When it comes to vintage Ferrari sports racers, there are very few, or perhaps none, that can surpass this great machine. It has wonderful provenance, a magnificent engine and sound, a hall-of-fame driver’s line-up, and it’s just plain beautiful from any angle. Phil Hill liked it too, commenting that “the 412 MI is so exotic and it makes the most glorious sound, maybe the most delicious vintage sound of any Ferrari”. Amen!”
These powerful images are from Jerry Wyszatycki. See more in Cavallino 231.