Scuderia Serenissima was organized by wealthy Venetian nobleman Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata in 1961 with Maurice Trintignant hired to drive a Cooper-Maserati. At the French GP that year the team arrived with an OSCA-engined De Tomaso chassis which was shared by Giorgio Scarlatti and Nino Vaccarella. It was not competitive. At the end of the year Volpi became involved in the breakaway group of Ferrari engineers which would become ATS but he soon quarreled with the others and went his own way.
He decided to build a mid-engined sportscar with a 3-liter V8 engine. This was designed by former Maserati chief engineer Alberto Massimino and was developed by Stirling Moss's old mechanic Alf Francis. The sportscar program was not a success but the change in the Formula 1 engine regulations in 1966 meant that 3-liter engines could be used. The McLaren team was struggling with a Ford Indianapolis engine and decided to have a look at the Serenissima V8. It was tried by Bruce McLaren in a Formula 1 McLaren at the Belgian GP but failed to take the start when its bearings failed. McLaren raced a McLaren-Serenissima at the British GP, finishing sixth, although he was two laps behind at the finish. He then qualified for the Dutch GP but the car again failed to make the start because of engine trouble and McLaren decided that it wisest to continue with the development of the Ford engine.