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 second 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unit probably very similar to that used in the Gendebien Mille Miglia GT car, appeared to fail in practice and was withdrawn.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.