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July 8, 2024

The 1966 365 P Berlinetta Speciale, Ferrari’s Only 3-Seater

The Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale (also commonly referred to as the Berlinetta Tre-posti) was a concept sports car designed and produced by Pininfarina and Ferrari in 1966. It featured a mid-engined layout of a donor racing car chassis and three-seat arrangement with a central driving position, as later popularised on McLaren F1. It was the first purpose-built, mid-engined, road-going Ferrari-branded car. Other similar Ferraris at that time were road-usable race cars like the 1965 250 LM ‘Speciale’.

The conversion of racing cars’ engine position from the front to the rear-mid position, did start to slowly influence the automakers to produce road cars with this specification. The first production car with this configuration was the 1962 René Bonnet Djet. With this change so did the requirements for styling to match new mechanicals. Creation of the mid-engined, road-going sports car was inevitable and Pininfarina created three Ferrari-based prototypes to be at the forefront of this revolution. One of those projects was the “Tre-posti” or a three-seater in Italian, the Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale.

Sergio Pininfarina was responsible for the initiation of the project as soon to be Head of Pininfarina. Up to this point Enzo Ferrari steadfastily refused to create a road-going car with a V12 engine in the mid-rear position and to involve an untraditional design language. Both US Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti and Head of Fiat Gianni Agnelli were interested in acquiring such cars for themselves.

While Ferrari did not immediately create any road cars in this specification, the Berlinetta Speciale did influence the marque’s future styling and eventually the 365 GT/4 Berlinetta Boxer prototype emerged by 1971.

The exterior design was loosely based on the existing road-going Dino concept, already sporting a mid-engine layout and presented just a year earlier, in 1965. Aldo Brovarone as Pininfarina's soon to be Head of Styling and creator of all the road-going Dino exterior designs, is also credited with the Berlinetta Speciale. Because of the many similarities to the production Dino 206 GT, the Berlinetta Speciale is both seen as a scaled up version of the original Dino and its predecessor, presented at the same time as the Dino Berlinetta GT final prototype, in 1966.

Pininfarina created the bodies in aluminium, over a mid-engine competition chassis. The most unusual feature was the triple seating with the driver situated in the center, slightly forward, with the other two seats slightly back. The center-mount windshield wiper was carried from the donor race car. New were the luxury additions like leather seats, carpets, chrome bumpers and fittings. The overall shape was very similar to both the Dino Berlinetta Speciale and more so to the Dino Berlinetta GT, the final prototype before the production variant. Apart from the seating arrangement, also the overall dimensions and shape were altered to accommodate a bigger V12 powerplant. The Ferrari Berlinetta Speciale was also known as “Tre-Posti” for its unique seating design.

Additional features included a full fixed Perspex sunroof, originally installed on one of the examples, that was highly advanced for its time. Overall side profile and details like a visible fuel cap, tearshaped air vents were similar to the Dino counterparts. Inside the chrome roll bar was integrated for additional protection.


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