by David Cook, images by Doug Breithaupt and David Cook
1957 250 Testarossa - Hot Wheels
1962 Ferrari 250GTO - generic
1962 Ferrari 250GTO - Maisto
1965 Ferrari 250LM - Husky
1965 Ferrari 250LM - Mercury Speedy
1966 Ferrari Dino 206 - Aurora Cigarbox
1966 Ferrari 330 P3 - Mercury Speedy
1966 Ferrari 330 P3 - Champion
1967 Ferrari P4 - Hot Wheels
1967 Ferrari P4 - Summer
1968 Ferrari 512S - Corgi Junior
1969 Ferrari 312P - Polistil
Hot Wheels recent release of the beautiful Ferrari P4 prompts us to see how many small-scale sports racers of this famous marque we can round up. Ferrari has been in the sports car racing game almost forever, winning the first post-war LeMans race in 1949. From 1953 through 1967, Ferrari won 11 of 15 possible Sports Car world championships including 5 straight in 1960 through 1965.
The first important winner we can find is the 1957-58 250 Testa Rossa by Hot Wheels; in various forms, this model won LeMans in 1958 & 1960 through 1963. American champion Phil Hill was involved in three of these wins. Later models lost the pontoon fenders which were found to not be aerodynamic. The yellow Hot Wheel model shown here is the only one to carry a racing number. Hot Wheels also issued this model in the more familiar red color with a nice prancing horse logo on the hood. It has also appeared in green, gold, silver and other colors.
The 250 GTO dominated the GT class of racing from 1962 through 1964. The generic brand pictured here in blue racing trim is accurate enough and may be by Imperial but the Maisto model in beautiful red comes complete with Ferrari logo.
The 250LM was one of the last pure racing cars that customers could buy from the factory and compete with the expectation of doing well at major international events. A model similar to this won Ferrari's last LeMans in 1965. The Husky version pictured here is nice but always came without numbers or logo. Mercury also offered a 250LM in it's Speedy series. This one features the small back window and buttress-style supports.
Small-bore Ferrari race cars were often nicknamed 'Dinos' after Mr. Ferrari's only son who unfortunately died of leukemia at a very young age. This 206S model raced in the 2-liter sports class during 1966 and 1967. The Aurora Cigarbox version is pictured in the unusual metallic color common to this series.
By 1966 sports car racing was no longer a Ferrari playground as Ford and Porsche had entered the arena. The 330P3 won some races but ultimately failed at LeMans and in the championship. Both the Mercury Speedy (from Italy) and the Collection Champion (from France) versions are very accurate small-scale representations of this beautiful car.
For 1967 Ferrari upgraded the 330 to the P4 version to meet Ford and Porsche head-on. They won enough races and podium finishes to win the championship but were trounced again at LeMans by the Ford GT-40. The old Summer version of the P4 has a decent enough body but very small wheels. The newly released Hot Wheels model is absolutely beautiful- complete with numbers and Ferrari logo- and is just now available in stores. After '67, Ferrari decided to take a few seasons off from sports car racing. The 512S model (seen here by Corgi Junior) was factory built and supported but campaigned by private teams with limited success against the mighty Porsche 917.
When the FIA announced that for 1972, sports cars would be limited to 3-liter engines, Ferrari knew they had a winner in their F-1 proven flat-12 engine. They built the 312P around this legendary power plant and steamrollered the opposition to win their final sports car championship. Hot Wheels released this car in a rainbow of colors; the red with Ferrari logo is very desirable and mostly accurate. The Polistil release is a slightly larger scale and a very accurate model of the final version of this famous car. The Politoys model represents the LeMans style coupe. The 312 won only a couple of races in 1973 and Ferrari walked away from sports car racing for many years in favor of their Formula One efforts.
The various Ferrari production-car racers pictured here were sometimes
privately prepared (often with factory support) for various endurance races
with limited success. The Berlinetta Boxer 512 used the flat 12 and had
some class success at Le Mans. Yat Ming has done their street version in
racing colors and Clic Clac of France has done a plastic version in correct,
long-tail Le Mans form. Galgo of Argentina produced a series of mid-'70's
sport/GT racing cars and included this curious Ferrari. The nose and inclusion
of small rear seats identify it as a version of the Dino 308GT/4, Ferrari's
first mid-engine V8 model. The tail is quite different from the model that
ran at Le Mans with little success. The 308GTB was also campaigned in sports
car racing and the Pioneer-sponsored model by Matchbox is painted to reflect
a real racing car. Racing examples of the Testarossa by Hot Wheels and Yat
Ming reflect the many racing teams that took Ferrari's flat-12 supercar
to the track. More recently, the 456GT with it's front-engine V12 has seen
racing duties, including Le Mans. Majorette and Matchbox have offered examples
in generic racing trim.
After 20-plus years, Ferrari decided to jump back into the sports car racing arena for sporting and commercial reasons. Rules makers had created a 'sports prototype' class for racing both in Europe and North America so the 333SP was born in the mid-1990's. The factory built 37 of these for private parties to own and maintain for a cool $1 million each. The 333SP has won Sebring twice (1995 & 1997) and the Daytona 24-Hours in 1998 but another LeMans win remains elusive. The Hot Wheels model is nicely done but for some reason lacks the Ferrari logo. It has also appeared in black with the same tampos.
But let's not nit-pick too much; the P4 is a splendid example of what can come of Hot Wheel's exclusive agreement with Ferrari. it would be nice to see some of the earlier sports-racing Ferrari models of the 1950's from Mattel. Hot Wheels has not offered small Ferrari racers in their collector's series although Porsche and Jaguar have been so honored. We hope there are many more vintage racing Ferrari models in the works from this partnership between the world's largest toy company and one of the world's most recognizable brands.
1970 Ferrari 312P - Hot Wheels
1971 Ferrari 312P - Polistil
1975 Ferrari BB512 - Yat Ming
1976 Ferrari BB512 - Clic Clac
1976 Ferrari 308GT/4 - Galgo
1978 Ferrari 308GTB - Matchbox
1984 Ferrari Testarossa - Hot Wheels
1988 Ferrari 512TR - Yat Ming
1994 Ferrari 456GT - Majorette
1994 Ferrari 456GT - Matchbox
1998 Ferrari 333P - Hot Wheels
1999 - Ferrari 355GT - Hot Wheels