“Tri Posti” Will Have Center Stage at Monterey
A very rare and very unique model takes the spotlight at the Gooding & Company Pebble Beach auction – the 365 P Berlinetta Speciale “Tri Posti”, s/n 8971.
Constructed in 1966, the 365 P Berlinetta Speciale was the first mid-engine, 12-cylinder Ferrari designed specifically for use as a road car. Using a 365 P2 chassis (s/n 8971) as its foundation, Pininfarina designed a radical Berlinetta body with a central driving position and distinctive three-seat layout.
Aesthetically, this car has the characteristic lines of the Dino Special Berlinetta of 1965, and immediately, certain elements of the design stand out. There is a subtle asymmetrical beltline that runs between the wheel wells separating the upper and lower sections of the body. The beautifully sculpted engine lid – hinged at the rear of the roof, just aft of the passenger headrests – is elegantly finished with a raised center section and a wonderful polished metal air intake reminiscent of a fine architectural model. The roof section is entirely transparent.
Other features are more familiar, as they forecast the look of future Ferraris, such as the section of curved glass behind the passenger compartment. Though it was a radical design in its era, the 365 P Berlinetta Speciale was the work of Pininfarina and features iconic Ferrari design cues, such as the traditional oval-shaped egg crate grille and covered headlamps. Even the extraordinary flying buttresses recall some of the great custom-bodied Ferraris of the mid-1950s.
Unlike many design studies, the 365 P Berlinetta Speciale was originally conceived as a fully functioning automobile, suitable for customer use. As such, the cockpit layout was a major element of the design, and it is surely among the most remarkable interiors ever created for an automobile. The greatest innovation is the three-seat layout, which places the driver in the center of the car, ahead of a passenger seat flanking each side.
The cockpit is beautifully finished and luxuriously appointed with a classic three-spoke steering wheel, electrically operated windows, and long-grain “elastic leather” upholstery, specially selected to resist wear.
Being a showcase car, the “Tri Posti” was shown at the Paris Auto Salon and the Earls Court Motor Show in 1966, and the Brussels Motor Show, Geneva Motor Show, and
Concorso d’Eleganza di Firenze in 1967.
The original 365 P Berlinetta Speciale was so successful that a second example (s/n 8815) was later built for the personal use of Gianni Agnelli, head of the FIAT empire. Both of these cars survive today. The Chinetti family has owned s/n 8971 since 1969.
Tre Posti is a masterpiece of mid-century industrial art that represents the intersection of three great names working at the height of their powers: Enzo Ferrari, Sergio Pininfarina, and Luigi Chinetti. The 365 P Berlinetta Speciale is one of the greatest in a long line of coachbuilt and one of the most enduring sports car designs of the 1960s.
Source: Info from Gooding & Company. Image from Brian Henniker.