Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

In 1957 the Commissione Sportiva Internationale (CSI) had been contemplating new rules to make sports car racing safer after the disaster at Le Mans in 1955 and Alfonso de Portago’s crash in the 1957 Mille Miglia, in which he and his co-driver, along with nine spectators were killed. Despite this appalling accident, Ferrari went on to take The Sports Car Championship at the final round at Caracas. The team had begun the year with the 3.8-litre 315 S, which was later developed into the 4.0-litre 335 S. Ferrari’s mind was already on his next creation – which would be one of his finest.

Anticipating a reduction in capacity for sports cars by the CSI for the 1958 season, Ferrari began working on a car powered by the 2,953 cc, 250 GT, V-12 engine. Ferrari first used the name Testarossa on the four-cylinder 500 TR. The name “red head” was used because the car’s cam covers were painted red. The new V-12 car, developed under Carlo Chiti’s engineering team, was intended by Enzo Ferrari as a more powerful version of the four-cylinder car retaining similar handling characteristics and tremendous reliability. This robustness had been proven on the 250 GT unit with a single overhead camshaft. Chiti revised the cylinder head design, fitted high compression pistons, special conrods and six Weber twin choke carburettors.

The first prototype, chassis number 0666, fitted with an envelope body similar to the 290 MM, appeared at the Nürburgring in 1957 and was tried by all the Ferrari works drivers. Olivier Gendebien set the sixth fastest time, no small feat against the more powerful Aston Martins and sister Ferrari team cars. The car finished a disappointing tenth, driven by Masten Gregory and Olindo Morolli who was given the drive at the last minute and was somewhat out of his depth.

The second Testarossa prototype, chassis number 0704, was bodied by Scaglietti and caused a sensation when it appeared at Le Mans. With its distinctive pontoon fenders, the car was said to be one of Scaglietti’s very favourite designs. Ferrari’s coach building artisan explained, “Formula 1 was the inspiration for the shape, there were pods on the sides of the F1 cars, (Ferrari Lancia D50) and while I wouldn’t call them aerodynamic, they went well. We used a similar idea by designing the body to bring air in towards the brakes to cool them. In many ways the Ferrari 250 Testarossa was a Formula 1 car with fenders.”

At Le Mans in June 1957 both prototypes suffered problems with new pistons. 0666 failed to start and 0704 retired, having run as high as second place. In Venezuela, during the final round of the championship, its potential was finally proven. Wolfgang von Trips and Wolfgang Seidel finished third in 0666 with Maurice Trintignant and Gendebien in fourth with 0704.

1958 would prove to be the 250 Testarossa’s absolute pinnacle. The factory cars won four of the six races to secure Ferrari’s third consecutive World Sports Car Championship for Constructors. Phil Hill and Peter Collins won in Argentina and again at the Sebring 12-Hours. Victory at the Targa Florio was taken by Luigi Musso and Gendebien and the 24 Hours of Le Mans was won by Gendebien and Hill.

For 1959 the Testarossa’s bodywork was redesigned by Pinin Farina and built by Fantuzzi, Scaglietti having been sidelined by the increased output of Ferrari road cars. While the TR59 of Dan Gurney, Chuck Daigh, Hill and Gendebien took victory at Sebring in March there were to be no further wins and Ferrari finished second to Aston Martin in the Championship.

In 1960 Testarossas won at Argentina (Hill/Gendebien) and Le Mans (Gendebien/Paul Frere) and took the Championship once again. Although the 330 TRI/LM would win at Le Mans in 1962 with Hill and Gendebien, 1961 was really the car’s swansong as a works entered car. Hill and Gendebien won at Sebring and Le Mans and Lorenzo Bandini and Giorgio Scarlatti won at Pescaro in the TR61 prototype.

Only 34 250 Testarossas were ever built, although this figure is debatable, as it also includes both prototypes as well as the 330 TRI/LM. Some were manufactured purely as customer cars. Many of these would continue racing for years to come, often with great success in national and international competition.

The Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa is considered by many to one of the most iconic racing Ferraris cars of all time. From 1958-1961, Scuderia Ferrari entered 20 international races and emerged with 10 victories which has made this car legendary.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in May of 2009 at Ferrari S.p.A., Fiorano Modenese, Modena.

Then in August 2011, the record was broken again when a 250 Testa Rossa sold at the Gooding & Co. sale in Monterey California for $16.4 million. The event was in connection with the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance car show.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August 2009 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.

300 bhp at 7,200 rpm, 2,953 cc single overhead cam 60 Type 128 LM V-12 engine, six Weber 38 DCN carburettors, four-speed manual gearbox, unequal A-arms, coil springs, Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers and anti roll bar front suspension, live axle, semi elliptic leaf springs, Houdaille shock absorbers with four trailing arms rear suspension, four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,350 mm (92.5 in.)

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel

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