Collection of the Luigi Chinetti Trust, Stuart, Florida

Sponsored by: Sara and Richard Bovender

Legendary automaker Enzo Ferrari had firm ideas. Although his company successfully raced rear-engine Grand Prix and sports prototype cars, he was convinced that powerful mid-engine cars for the road were simply “too dangerous” for private customers. But coachbuilder Sergio Pininfarina strongly believed that mid-engine production models would be the next important Gran Turismo (GT) car trend, so when he succeeded his father as Ferrari’s chief builder of road-going models, he initiated a bold design study to convince the company of their merits.

The stunning result was the Ferrari 365 P Tre Posti (three seat), Ferrari’s first full-sized twelve-cylinder road car, with seats for two passengers located alongside and slightly behind the center driver’s seat. A centralized steering wheel and similarly located instruments and controls provided a high level of driver visibility and anticipated the modern McLaren F1.

The Tre Posti is replete with iconic Ferrari styling cues, such as an oval-shaped egg-crate grille and Perspex-covered headlamps. The curved glass window behind the passenger compartment became a feature on Ferrari production cars, as did the taillight assemblies with their triple circular lights. From the outset, the Tre Posti was designed to be a functioning, road-going berlinetta. Inside, it was furnished with a three-spoke wood-rimmed steering wheel, electrically operated windows, black long-grain leather upholstery, and bright red carpets.

The engine is a SOHC, twenty-four-valve, 4.4-liter Ferrari V-12, developing 380 bhp, backed by a five-speed manual transaxle. Competition features include an integrated chrome roll bar, an outside fuel filter, five-spoke cast alloy wheels, a competition pedal box, and a gated shifter. This car, S/N (serial number) 8971, was a hit at the 1966 Paris Auto Salon, and it was subsequently displayed at the Los Angeles Auto Show. It was then purchased by Luigi Chinetti Sr., a three-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the founder of Ferrari in North America.

—Adapted from the exhibition catalogue essay by Ken Gross

Please consider supporting the Frist Art Museum with a donation. Your gift is essential to our mission of serving the community through the arts and art access in particular. We truly appreciate your generosity.