The 1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Special “Tre Posti” is a remarkable car whose backstory is full of all kinds of subplots.
For example, it’s a 12-cylinder mid-engine design — and according to Gooding & Company, the house auctioning it this weekend at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, a car that Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari didn’t want to build. It was the legendary coachbuilder Sergio Pinifarina who pushed it through and made it one of the most exciting cars to debut in the mid-1960s.
But the best story relates to the prototypical supercar’s unusual three-seat configuration. The head of Gooding & Company, David Gooding, interviewed Luigi Chinetti, who brought Ferrari to North America, for a booklet to accompany the Tre Posti auction.
Chinetti recalls the impression that a 3-seat sport car — the driver is flanked by a pair of seats — made on customers and the media at the time of its introduction:
[Cartoonist Russell Brockbank] did a great rendition of the Tre Posti. It doesn’t have a caption, it’s just the car parked on the side of the road, outside of Rome. The drive is in the car, but both doors are flung open, and two women — the passengers — are really going at it: Rolling around, one’s pulling the other’s hair and the other one is swinging a purse. There was always the joke — you could drive the car with your wife and your mistress at the same time.
It’s a funny thing to infer from a car that has three front seats, not to mention a quintessential instance of the kind of bemused sexism that prevailed in the automotive media in the “Mad Men” era (here’s a link to the cartoon). Brockbank, by the way, was a prolific cartoonist who lived and worked in England, most notably for the satirical magazine Punch. He drew many cartoons that were about cars and car culture.
Here’s a more recent example of the Berlinetta style, Ferrari’s F12. You can see the legacy of the 365 that’s being auctioned this weekend — although obviously, the newer Ferrari lacks the risqué 3-seat layout.
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