Zurich Gnome

The journal of a Swiss-based motor-racing enthusiast.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What's in a number?

The new Ferrari F1 challenger has been announced and it's called the 248 F1. That might not mean much to many of you, but to some of us old Ferrari fanatics, it marks the resurrection of an old naming convention.

When Ferraris were powered by V12 engines back in the early 50s, they were known by the capacity of a single cylinder. So the 166 was a 2-litre engine, the 250 (as in the 250GTO) was a 3-litre engine, and so forth. Hence famous cars such as the 275 GTB (the 275 GTB/4 was a four camshaft version of the 3.3 litre engine) and the 330P4 (Fourth version of the 4-litre prototype).

But the 248 is not a V12, it follows the other convention started at the end of the late 1950s, which was epitomised by the Dino 246. This had a 2.4 litre V6 engine, and if you can remember back to the Ferraris of the 70s and 80s, as used by Magnum (TV detective) you may recall that those were known as 308 or 328 (depending on whether they were 3.0 litre or 3.2) GTBs or GTSs (Berlinettas, ie closed roof, or Spiders, ie open). Are you still with me?

Well in the 1980s numbering conventions seemed to go out of the window with the 126C. The C was "straightforward" in that it meant the car was super/turbo-charged (I vaguely remember that the Italian for supercharger is compressore) but the 12 apparently means that the engine has a V-angle of 120 degrees. Then we moved on to the 412, which although it had 12 cylinders, didn't (unless they were cheating) have a 4-litre engine. Although I suppose if you round 3.5 litres to a single digit, you could argue that it was correct to call it 412. When the engine size was reduced to 3-litres, the 310 again made sense (I assume that not many people would expect a 3.1 litre zero cylinder engine) and then Ferrari moved to numbers like F2004, which seems self-evident.

But now we're back to 248 and I know where I am again. But frankly, does it help? After all, most F1 petrolheads probably know the engine capacity for any given year of car, but you can't work out the year from the capacity. Unless, that is, Max Mosley goes completely loopy (sadly we can't rule that out) and changes the engine capacity every year for "cost-saving" reasons. So, even before the 2006 season starts, I'm really curious to know what they will call the 2007 car. 248 F1B? Any thoughts?

Picture © Ferrari


At 12:15 PM, Blogger cccp said...



At 12:20 PM, Blogger ZurichGnome said...

Is that F2007-MS is the same way as we had the GA-2003 when Agnelli left the scene? Or in honour of his eighth championship :-)


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