The Targa Florio

Ferrari, Targa Florio, klemcoll, von Trips, Phil Hill

This is one of our favorite images. It provides almost a driver’s eye view of what it was like to compete in the Targa Florio, this being from the May 11, 1958 edition of the famous endurance race . The car is a Ferrari 250TR/58, serial number 0728, and was driven by Wolfgang von Trips, seen here, and Mike Hawthorn.

The Targa Florio, named for its creator Vincenzo Florio, was first run in 1906. There were various iterations of the circuit but in the immediate prewar years a somewhat shorter route was finalized with a lap length of 45 miles (72 km). This challenging route was amusingly called the “Little Madonie” to differentiate it from its longer and earlier versions. The 1958 race was held over 14 laps which resulted in a race length of 630 miles. Safety for both competitors and spectators was becoming more and more of an issue after the tragedy of the 1957 Mille Miglia, in 1958 limiting the displacement of engines to three liters. As the years passed, these considerations first cost the Targa its international championship status and finally its existence as an outright race after 1973.

Ferrari entered two examples of its new 250TR/58, both with de Dion rear suspension, plus two of its older 250TR prototypes. The second 250TR/58, having an envelope body, was assigned to Luigi Musso/Olivier Gendebien while Peter Collins/Phil Hill had the second prototype with Gino Munaron/Wolfgang Seidel in the original 250 Testa Rossa. The main competition for Ferrari would come from the three factory-entered Porsches spyders, two RSKs and one older 550RS. Then there were a pair of Aston Martin DBR1/300s for Stirling Moss/Tony Brooks and Carroll Shelby/Roy Salvadori. Moss was impeded after the start by an engine problem which was cured in a long pit stop but put him out of overall contention. No matter – Moss then did a lap a full second faster than race leader Musso had been able to record in his Ferrari and 47 seconds faster than the existing lap record that Moss had set in 1955 with the winning Mercedes 300SLR which the had shared with Peter Collins. He then did it again, now a full minute under the old record.

In spite of this new record lap, the rough Targa road surface had its way with the Astons and their questionable transaxles, both cars
Ferrari, Targa Florio, klemcoll, von Trips, Phill Hillretiring from transmission failure. The Musso/Gendebien 250TR continued to lead the Targa with Trips/Hawthorn now second, and showing some damage inflicted by Trips (as seen at left), but being caught up by the Porsche of Jean Behra/Giorgio Scarlatti, now in the hands off Behra. On the next to last lap Behra took over second as the Ferrari made a pit stop and then held on for second place overall. The Collins/Hill Ferrari would finish fourth when Seidel ran out of road on the last lap, damaging the engine and having to retire.

Photo by Edward Eves ©The Klemantaski Collection –

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One comment

  1. Mike Vivian · · Reply

    Thanks for sending this memorable moment of Automotive History.


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