Another 312 Feature

6/23/01 Another 312 Feature

You may have seen on the message board that there is some interest in the Ferrari 312 F-1 car François is restoring, but from a unexpected source. It seems that this car is one of the cars featured in a computer race simulator that recreates a bygone era in racing history. I am always amazed how detailed these simulators have become, and how much work the programers put into getting everything right! I often get requests for more details on this 312 restoration from gear heads, and now gamers, so here is another detail you may find interesting in this car.

The tiny shifter located on the driver’s right is gated much like the road Ferraris, or is that the other way around? The interesting thing besides the reverse lockout on the bottom of the picture, is that there is another plate that keeps the shifter from going into what would be fifth gear. When I asked François what this was for, he said that this plate would be installed depending what gear set were installed in the transmission. Some tracks would only need four gears, and some would need five. The current set-up looks to be four forward gears with a “dog-leg first,” left and down.

Some people may not be familier with the term “dog-leg first,” but older trasmissions, and many Ferrari transmissions have this feature. The first Porshe 911s also had this shift pattern. Now I’m sure there is an engineering reason for a “dog-leg first,” but I’ve also heard a driver’s explaination. First gear is rarely used on a track, and only really gets the car under way, so keeping it out of the “H” pattern gave you all the gears you needed in a staight line to one another. I’m not sure if this is a good reason because what happens in a 4th to 3rd downshift, and you overshoot the gate to 1st? If you think this is too much thinking, you haven’t even begun to see what kind of thinking goes into winning races!