Ferrari 500 TRC Spyder

In the 500 TRC, Ferrari developed what was to be one of the company’s most aesthetically beautiful, brilliantly engineered and efficient sports racing cars.

Following engineer Aurelio Lampredi’s departure from Ferrari in 1955, a new engineering team was formed for 1956, including Vittorio Jano, Alberto Massimino, Luigi Bellentani and the young Andrea Fraschetti. These highly skilled men soon came up with a new two-litre sports racing car: the 500 TR. This was the first Ferrari designated with the now legendary name “Testa Rossa.” The four-cylinder-engined type 500 TR was introduced in 1956 and was the successor to the 500 Mondial. Seventeen examples were built and became favourite sports racers for privateers the world over.

Half a year later the factory produced a new car, because the sports commission of the FIA issued new regulations. For the 1957 season the new Appendix C for modified sports cars took effect. The 500 TR was outlawed by the new rules, many of which concerned the bodywork. The windscreen now had to be symmetrical over the axis of the car, and width had to measure 100 cm with a height of at least 15 centimetres. A soft-top was required, and the gas tank capacity was to be 120 litres. A passenger door was mandated as well.

Engineers, mechanics and designers began a race against the clock. By the end of 1956, Ferrari announced the 500 TRC, a new model which adhered to all of the new FIA regulations.

The new model was assigned chassis Type 518 C and engine Type 131 C. Motor, gearbox and transmission were identical to the 500 TR. One of the primary differences between the TRC and the first Mondial, in addition to reduced weight, was the rear axle: a coil sprung rigid axle instead of the deDion variety. The two-litre engine reached its peak of performance in the TRC with 190 bhp.

More importantly, the chassis structure of the 500 TRC had been reinforced to increase rigidity. The front-end tubular frame members were further apart, which made it possible to mount the engine lower, thus lowering the centre of gravity of the whole car. This also allowed Pinin Farina to design an entirely new body that was lower by 10 centimetres, which was to be built by Scaglietti and is rightly regarded as one of the most beautiful and seductive Ferrari racing spiders ever built.

The Ferrari factory sold the TRC to private customers all over the world as a winning weapon in the sports car races. Several TRCs originally had two-tone paint, and not many were coloured the typical Ferrari racing red. The small group of 19 cars was produced within one year. Less than twelve months after its introduction, however, the 500 TRC was replaced by the 12-cylinder 250 Testa Rossa, which despite being more powerful was produced in greater numbers. As the last four-cylinder sports racing car, the 500 TRC truly marked the end of an era at Ferrari.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in May of 2011 at the Spazio Villa Erba, Cernobbio, Como and will be auctioned off by Gooding & Company in August of 2012 at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

190 bhp, 1,985 cc inline DOHC four-cylinder engine, two Weber 40 DCO/A3 carburettors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension, live rear axle, hydraulic four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,250 mm (88.6")

Sources: RM Auctions and Gooding & Company
Photo Credit: Copyright Hugh Hamilton and Brian Henniker

Gallery: Ferrari 500 TRC Spyder