The 712P is the biggest-engined Ferrari ever made

13th April 2024
Ethan Jupp

There are many words one can use to describe Can-Am cars. Bombastic, blusterous, aggressive... elegant? Probably not. Elegant is a word you associate with classic Le Mans challengers from the likes of Ferrari, Porsche and Matra. But even the Modenese elegance of a Ferrari sports prototype couldn’t survive the steroidal transformation for competition in the Canadian-American Challenge Cup.


We are of course talking about the 712P, the lone Ferrari present for the Can-Am demonstration at the 81st Goodwood Members’ Meeting presented by Audrain Motorsport. 

If that number sounds quite large, that’s because it is. Can-Am demands you go big and as such, the 712P has the honour of housing the largest engine Ferrari has ever fitted to a car, for competition or the road. It’s a 720PS (530kW) 7.0-litre V12 – hence the name 712. For context, that’s a full two litres of extra displacement over the engines used in the 512s.

The car itself was based on Ferrari’s flagship prototype sportscar at the time, the 512. Chassis 1010 was a bit of a 512 prodigy before, being the car to first field the significant upgrade package that became what we know as the 512M. 

The car was actually fielded in Can-Am ahead of being transformed into the 712P but it was quickly apparent a more bespoke treatment, with more capacity, was needed to have any hope of fighting on an equal footing with the big-banger Chevy engines. And so the unique 7-litre engine was born.


For conversion to Can-Am spec in addition to that monster of an engine, the 512 bodywork was stripped, with the roof and windscreen removed. The whole car very much echoes the no-nonsense look of its competitors from McLaren, Lola and Shadow. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the 712 needed a beefier transmission, driveshafts and suspension to handle all that extra muscle, too.

Unsurprisingly, this car sort of became the Ferrari factory’s unwanted stepchild, with the 712’s Can-Am exploits mostly handled by Luigi Chinetti and the North American Racing Team. Having such a huge engine, the car wasn’t exactly relevant to Ferrari’s road car plans. 

In spite of the car being quite successful with its 7.0-litre engine during the Interserie round at Imola in May 1971, that pace didn’t follow it across the Atlantic. Mario Andretti managed fourth at Watkins Glen, the first race after its ‘Can-Am Spyder’ bodywork was added. Jean-Pierre Jarier repeated that result at Road America a year later but that’s the best it managed.


Even with middling results in period, the 712P was always rightly revered as an extremely important car in Ferrari’s history. Its life moving from racers through the ownership of collectors, making seven-figure sums at sales even in the 1990s, proves as much. 

To us it’s the fact that no Ferrari before or since has had an engine even remotely as big. Even the SP3 Daytona of today is 500cc off, though it does top the 712P’s power by some 100PS. 

But even a 7.0-litre V12 engine with over 700PS wasn’t enough of a lithe Italian right-hook to give the big American bruisers a bloody nose. We reckon that says more about the madness of Can-Am than it does Ferrari’s ability to conjure up horsepower. All told, what a mad thing the 712 is and how great it is to see it here at 81MM.

The 81st Members’ Meeting presented by Audrain Motorsport is live now! You can watch every second of the action right here on our GRR live stream.

Photography by Pete Summers.

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