After a 20 year absence from sports prototype racing, Ferrari revealed the 333 SP as part of their return. Giampiero Moretti—known as the founder of the MOMO auto part business—was instrumental in persuading Ferrari Corse to pursue the project, whilst a key ally was Ferrari North America CEO Gian Luigi Longinotti-Buitoni, who identified the positive impact that potential racing success could have on sales in the company’s biggest market. Built initially to compete in the IMSA World Sports Car Championship in 1994, many called it an F1 car with two seats and full bodywork. Intended for private teams, the 333 SP was very successful—it won 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Daytona and many championships in the period between 1998 and 2001.
Initial development was a collaboration between the factory, Dallara Automobili and long-time Ferrari associate Michelotto. Much of Dallara’s initial work was aerodynamics focused, whilst Michelotto were involved principally in component sub-assembly. However, following construction of the prototype chassis 01 at Maranello, Dallara undertook overall production of chassis 02 to 14, and Michelotto of 15 to 41. Consequently, the car represented here, Chassis No. 20, was built by Michelotto, as it can be seen by the factory build sheet.
The engine was a re-worked version of the 65 degree V12 used in the 1990 Ferrari 641 Formula 1 car, enlarged to 4.0 L and producing 641 hp. IMSA regulations specified that the engines could not displace over four litres and had to be derived from a road car. Although the 333 SP’s V12 was derived from Ferrari’s Formula 1 paltmform; it was homologated because it would soon power the Ferrari F50 supercar (in a yet enlarged 4.7L version). Like many of its legendary predecessors the 333 SP was named after its unitary displacement of 333cc per cylinder. Race engineer Tony Southgate—who was part of the project as a consultant— later described it as “one of the most reliable race engines I have ever worked with”.
The 333 SP had its body bolted on a lightweight, state-of-the-art carbon fibre and aluminum honeycomb chassis fitted with double wishbone, independent suspension front and rear and pushrod-operated coil-spring and damper units. Stopping duties were ensured by ventilated Brembo disc brakes and calipers on all four corners. The transmission was a 5-speed sequential.
THIS RACE CAR
Chassis #20 was originally sold to Enzo Calderari of Auto Sport Racing, a privateer team based in Lugano, Switzerland and competing in the premier FIA Sportscar Championship. In the 1998 racing season Calderari and his co-driver Lillian Bryner, notably came second overall in their first race, the 1000 km of Monza, and achieved another podium in Donington. In November of 1998 Calderari, Bryner and Angelo Zadra won their class in the Italian GT Championship at Vallelunga. Their next race was the 24 Hours of Daytona and they achieved a very respectable 4th overall place. The car was also raced throughout the 1999 season and was sold to Phil Bennett of New York following the 24 Hours of Daytona in January 2000. At a later time, it was purchased by John Knotts, resident in Houston. The current consignor has been in possession of this car since 2015 and he has kept it garaged as part of his collection.
Sale is accompanied by 2015 Massini report, Spa certificate, origin certificate, competition history literature, assembly-line and racing photos.
This striking race car represents Ferrari’s last triumphant effort in prototype racing. It is one of just 40 every built and it was raced with success in the world’s most renowned temples of speed. Nonetheless, its mechanical and cosmetic condition remain truly impressive. Today, it can be acquired as a beautiful collector’s piece and viable investment. But this 333 SP still begs to be taken to the racetrack, which can be easily accommodated thanks to the Ferrari Corse Clienti program. Its naturally-aspirated V12 promises incredible thrills revving to a screaming 11,000 RPM, flames out the back and all…