A Testa Rossa Prototype

Ferrari klemcoll, Le mans

This is just before the start of the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 22, 1957. This car was one of two similar Ferraris which were examples of the Old Man’s initial bet for the future, the famous 250 Testa Rossa using a three liter V12 single camshaft per bank motor, a development from the engine used in their road and GT cars. The near four liter or larger-engined sports racers from Ferrari, Maserati and Aston Martin would no doubt have their last hurrah in 1957 as organizers became ever more concerned with the speeds of these cars after the 80-odd deaths in the 1955 Le Mans tragedy and the de Portago crash in the 1957 Mille Miglia which also killed a number of spectators.

The two 250TR prototypes were true specials, or “bastardi” to use Ferrari’s term. Not a designed production item but a one-off experimental car built up from existing parts used in other models. For instance, the car above is probably the Ferrari, Klemcoll, 250TRsecond prototype, chassis number 0704, which was introduced at Le Mans and originally had the Scaglietti “pontoon” nose seen here offering improved brake cooling, a new feature which would be adopted for the customer versions of the 250TR. This car would be driven by Olivier Gendebien and Maurice Trintignant but would retire with the piston problems that bedeviled almost all the Scuderia’s entries at Le Mans in 1957. It is thought that 0704 was most likely built on a lengthened and modified 500TRC chassis with a live rear axle and a gearbox in unit with the motor.

The first prototype, chassis number 0666, was also at Le Mans but its engine, a special 3.1 liter unit probably very similar to that used in the Gendebien Mille Miglia GT car, appeared to fail in practice and was withdrawn. This car was a true compilation of different bits and pieces, and now appears to have had a TRC front chassis section combined with a rear section from a 290MM with de Dion rear suspension carrying the normal rear transaxle for one of those cars. It also used a copper radiator from the Lancia-supplied parts bin for the D50 Grand Prix Lancias which had been turned over to Ferrari in mid-1955.

But Ferrari internal race documents add even more confusion as to the identity of car n. 9. The papers of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the Le Mans organizers, show car n. 9 as being chassis 0704. However, Ferrari’s documentation refers to n. 9 as 0666. Perhaps a typographic error, perhaps not. Of course these 250TR prototypes would undergo ongoing modification at Ferrari, including a transaxle for 0704, such that their technical specifications today, both having survived many years of racing, may bear limited commonality with their experimental origins.

Photos by Edward Eves ©The klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com,

Happy New Year to all.

 

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3 comments

  1. jimmsitz@gmail.com · · Reply

    In the Summer of 1957 I saw both of those cars in Europe and has to wonder why Ferrari would bother with smaller 3 liter cars when Phil Hill and Peter Collins had the larger 335 S to run.

    Obviously the Commandatore knew of the future and limitations

    But yet the FIA did not

    Meet until October in Paris to make that ruling for next year.

    Masten Gregory certainly showed its potential in its debut for Nurburgring in May.

    Some journalist suggested the Scarab being built had some effect on rules, But yet none of us in Europe including Jesse Alexander were aware of that project.

    When I finally arrived home for Christmas I did go to their shop to see the new Chevrolet powered car.

    Jim sitz

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  2. I had to chime in on this one. Delighted to see the article on one of the classic sculptures in automobile history, The 250 Testa Rossa Prototype. One of my favorite cars to photograph. The article mentioned s/n 0666, the prototype. Not knowing it at the time I shot one picture of a car with number 69 on the side at one of the Santa Barbara road races in California. The car was not listed in the program, and at the time I had no way to find out anything about it. Fast forward to the early 2000’s and I had became acquainted with historian Michael Lynch. I sent him a picture of the car and asked if he knew anything about it. This started a chain of emails around the world. Two of the other links were David Seielstad and Axelis Callier. It was great fun to read all their comments about solving the mystery of this car. The consensus was that it is indeed the #0666 prototype. I believe he did an article of Forza on it too. Thank you for the article, and learning more about it, Allen R Kuhn

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  3. Regarding the mentioned piece in Forza, I wrote a 7-page article on 0666TR that appeared in that magazine’s May 2007 issue under the title “Devil Reincarnate: Exploring the fiery life and times of Ferrari Testa Rossa prototype S/N 0666TR” in the period when Jon Shirley was the owner of the car. And thanks to KlemColl now for carrying forward the story of this fabulous machine and its history. – William Edgar

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