To say that the Ferrari 212 E Montagna was a hillclimb champ is to underestimate its accomplishments.
These were no mere sprints up a hillside, but soaring ascents of real mountains. It was the European Mountain Championship and it attracted some of the biggest names in motor racing. Thousands of spectators lined the twisting, miles-long climbs, cheering on all manner of machinery, from purpose-built sports-racers to the occasional F1 single-seater.
Ferrari, Porsche, and Abarth were the principal rivals in the late 1960s. Piloting the Ferrari 196 SP in 1962 and the Ferrari Dino 206 S in 1965, Ferrari team driver Ludovico Scarfiotti won two mountain championships during the decade. But it was another performance, a dominating exhibition in the decade’s final season, that has entered into Ferrari lore.
In many ways the Ferrari 212 E Montagna was a throwback to the old days, when Ferrari personnel borrowed ideas from disparate cars to make a new one. The Ferrari 212 E Montagna's chassis and suspension were largely taken from the Ferrari 206 S. The car’s open bodywork resembled the Ferrari 350 Can Am’s. Like the Ferrari 206 S, the Ferrari 212 E Montagna used a 2.0-liter engine, but instead of a V-6, it was a remarkable flat-12.
This was Ferrari’s first use of a “boxer” twelve since 1964, and the powerplant was a testament to the brilliance of company chief engineer Mauro Forghieri.
The Ferrari 212 E Montagna won all seven races it entered in the 1969 season.
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“[He] was the finest engineer that I worked with,” remembered driver Chris Amon in Scarlet Passion. “He was capable of engineering the whole car, including the engine and gearbox, something that few others have ever done.”
Once Forghieri laid down the basics, he put engineer Stefano Jacaponi in charge of the project. Jacaponi started with the 1.5- liter flat-12 from Ferrari’s ’65 F1 campaign. He kept the stroke basically untouched, but enlarged the bore for a total displacement of 1991cc. The engine boasted double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, and Lucas fuel injection for an output of 320 horsepower at 11,800 rpm.
And, as in the glory days of the 1950s and early ’60s, the melding of ideas that created the Ferrari 212 E Montagna was immensely successful. With works driver Peter Schetty at the wheel, the car won all seven races it entered during 1969, setting a course record at each outing, and taking the series championship.
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