This small spider, seen in the Monza paddock on June 29, 1953, is an entirely new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder Ferrari sports car designed at Ferrari by Aurelio Lampredi. It is without doubt a very significant departure in Ferrari history, being Ferrari’s first 4-cylinder sports car. This spider was called the 625TF and was one of three cars built with that type designation. This one initially carried the chassis number 0302TF. The “TF” suffix did not stand for Targa Florio but rather, according to Ferrari’s long-time senior technician Luigi Bazzi, referred to Tipo Formula. Indeed, the engine of the 625TF was a derivative, detuned for sports car use, of that to be used in the 625F1, which would lead Ferrari’s F1 activities in 1954. That F1 motor was also a direct linear descendant of the successful 4-cylinder Lampredi-designed 500F2 which had earned a World Championship for Alberto Ascari in 1952, to be repeated in 1953.
Ascari was to drive this 625TF in this day’s Gran Premio dell’Autodromo, for which he had achieved pole position for the first of two heats. He went quickly into the lead, but on the 13th lap had the brake pedal snap off as he was slowing for the first Lesmo corner. He then collided with a car he was lapping, a Ferrari 250MM, and went off into the trees, pretty well destroying the 625TF, but not injuring himself. In a sense that crash was a sort of blessing in disguise because Enzo Ferrari had no love for the unaggressive low nose of this 625TF the body of which, probably designed by Lampredi or certainly as a result of his input, had possibly been built by the Autodromo company in Modena which normally built truck bodies.
Following that Monza accident, this 625TF was sent to Scaglietti to be rebodied. The result was a very lightweight spider, now in the Scaglietti style, which was used as a kind of prototype for the 500 Mondial, although its chassis and driveline were quite different from the subsequent “production” Mondial. This prototype was first run by Scuderia Ferrari in Morocco in late 1953 and then on into June 1954 with 2-liter, 2.5-liter and even 2.9-liter motors, including a 2nd overall and class win in the 1954 Mille Miglia. In mid-1954 the prototype – now renumbered 0306TF, having had its number swapped with that of one of the other 625TFs – was sold to Gilberto Cornacchia’s Scuderia Guastalla in Milan, which ran it through 1955. This well-travelled 625TF then went to Venezuela where it was seen racing into 1959. This first and very significant 4-cylnder Ferrari sports car, the direct ancestor of the 500 Mondial, the 750 Sport and the very successful 750 and 860 Monzas, has disappeared in South America.
For this story, we are indebted to the superb research of Franco Lombardi and Antoine Prunet, who will soon tell more about the histories of Ferraris with in-line motors in a fabulous new book soon to be published, Ferrari In Linea.
Photo by Yves Debraine ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com