The Legacy of the Ferrari Testa Rosa from the Greatest Era in Racing

The Legacy of the Ferrari Testa Rosa from the Greatest Era in Racing

$RACE

The art of making small gains is knowing what to improve and how to do it successfully.“– Enzo Ferrari

That is the Key, and this relies on experience.

So, while Jaguar burst on to the Le Mans scene in the 1950’s, suddenly with great success, it may be easy to forget that, in the background, the team from Modena was building on its 25 yrs of racing experience.

By the end of the decade, The Scuderia entered a Red-headed slingshot into the 1960’s with stunning ferocity.

The 1st Testa Rossa, fitted with a 180bhp 4-cylinder engine and called the 500, was introduced in Y 1956, 2 yrs after the most recent Ferrari victory at La Sarthe.

With regulation changes in Y 1957 came the sleeker and Scaglietti-bodied TRC that Richie Ginther said was the easiest Ferrari yet to race. Each year, marginal gains.

The introduction of the 12-cylinder 3-litre came in Y 1958, and the famous ‘pontoon fender’ body was standardized after some prototypes the prior year.

By this point Jaguar had burnt out, and Porsche and Aston Martin were looking to pick up the torch.

AM canned its DBR4 Grand Prix program and threw everything it could at its challenge for the World Sportscar Championship.

Yet Ferrari proved to have an all-rounder for all circuits and won 4 of the 1st 5 races, from Buenos Aires to the old airfield of Sebring, the dusty roads of Sicily, and on to Le Mans.

And so to Y 1959, when for the 1st time the Testa Rossa was no longer available for client purchase and was only to be raced as a factory car.

With coachwork by Pininfarina, 4 examples were built including this, chassis # 0774.

During the season, Ferrari experimented with 4 and 5-speed boxes, and a de Dion rear axle.

Finally, and probably as a reaction to the Jaguar C- and then D-type, 4-wheel disc brakes were fitted.

Chassis #0774 made its debut at Le Mans that year as part of the 4-car works team of 3 TRs and 1 196S.

The Big Q: Objective?

The Big A: Keep Aston Martin and the Jaguar D-type of Ecurie Ecosse off the podium.

Three privately entered ’58 TRs and 4 250GTOs bolstered The Scuderia’s presence.

The 3 prior rounds of the Y 1959 season had been split: Ferrari claimed Sebring, Porsche the Targa Florio, and Aston Martin famously the Nürburgring.

The Porsche 718’s small engine rendered it uncompetitive at Le Mans, so it was going to be between the DBR1 and Testa Rossa.

In the hands of Jean Behra and Dan Gurney, #0774 led practice, although grid position for the Le Mans start was based on engine capacity so smaller-engined cars did not hold up the Big boys.

The really quick Stirling Moss got the best start in the Aston Martin, with #0774 struggling to get off the line and distant from the main pack. 

It took an hr of relentless chasing for Mr. Behra to get on the tail of the leading Moss DBR1 and pass, handing over to Mr. Gurney to head the field into the darkness.

Messrs Moss and Fairman dropped a valve after 6 hrs, but on went #0774, until the blistering early pace caught up with it.

Just before the halfway point, either the gearbox failed or the engine gave up and the pair had to take solace in setting the race’s fastest laps.

The engine problems had been due to oil starvation, which led to the cars being converted to dry-sump lubrication ahead of the final round of the World Sportscar Championship, September’s 6-hr RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood.

The title fight was still very much an open book, with Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin all in a position to win.

And, for the 1st time, full pts were on the table. Recall that in Y 1958, the TT had been only 4 hrs and therefore only 1/2 championship pts were offered.

Classic & Sports Car – Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa: Refined to perfection

Ferrari arrived in West Sussex at the Top of the scoreboard on 18 pts, with Aston Martin 2 adrift on 16 and Porsche a further pt back at 17.

The Venezuelan Grand Prix was still to come, but none of the teams had made any arrangements on the assumption it was not going ahead.

Goodwood being such a fast circuit, Porsche knew it was up against it, meaning another head to head between Ferrari and Aston Martin.

Phil Hill and Cliff Allison would drive s/n 0774, while the usual Aston Martin suspects of Mr. Moss and Roy Salvadori were in the lead DBR1 and claimed Pole position. Messrs Hill and Allison struggled for pace and #0774 was down the steps in 6th.

As usual, the energetic Mr. Moss was 1st to his car and off into the distance, with #0774 left to limp around the 1st lap with a broken valve and retire.

With Ferrari down from 4 cars to 3 before the race got going, only a miracle could pull victory from defeat.

Aston Martin kicked that miracle into touch when, during the pitstops, it pulled a trump card with built-in pneumatic jacks that saved around 7 secs per stop.

It did not all go AMs way, as a mechanic spilled gasoline on an exhaust manifold and Mr. Moss’ DBR1 went up in flames, along with the entire Aston Martin pit.

Regardless of the smoky drama, Mr. Moss moved to the sister DBR1 to clinch the race and Aston’s Championship, making its withdrawal from racing even more surprising.

Updated during the Winter to Y 1960 regulations and re-designated 250TR 59/60, s/n 0774 was to be driven by Messrs Hill and Allison at the season opener in Buenos Aires for the 1000km, where it joined stablemate s/n 0770 in the works squad.

Flagged away by Juan Manuel Fangio, #0774 chased the new Maserati ‘Birdcage’ of Mr. Gurney, but the promise of a race-long Ferrari vs Maserati duel faded at half distance.

The Tipo 61 retired with gearbox problems, leaving #0774 to score the 1st win of the season.

7 wks later, at Sebring, the tension between the race organisers and the teams intensified.

In Argentina it had been about the new tall windscreens, which the drivers announced publicly to be dangerous; in Florida it was being forced to use the fuel supplied by event sponsor Amoco.

This was unacceptable to both Ferrari and Porsche, who were contracted to Shell and BP respectively.

Enzo Ferrari withdrew his entries and threatened not to take part in any more races in the Championship except Le Mans.

Eventually, Ferrari and Porsche re-classified themselves as private entrants, in the case of Ferrari this was under the banner of Luigi Chinetti’s NART, its North American importer.

The driver line-ups reflected the American private entries, with #0774 now being driven by Mr. Ginther and Chuck Daigh.

As the Maserati of Mr. Moss bogged down getting off the line, the TRs made good starts and rapid amateur Pete Lovely led Mr. Ginther.

It would not last

Mr. Moss soon recovered to lead until transmission problems, #0774 retired with more engine woes, and Porsche eventually took a 1-2 ahead of Mr. Lovely and fellow amateur teammate Jack Nethercutt.

Everyone calmed down by the Targa Florio in early May, probably because it was a race taking place on home turf.

Ferrari arrived with several cars, including s/n 0774 as the back-up. Conditions were especially tricky with Saharan sand mixing with rain.

A crash in practice for one TR meant #0774 was pressed into action, to be driven by Messrs Allison and Ginther.

By the end of the 3d lap Allison was up to 3rd place, but Mr. Ginther and #0774 later left the track and ultimately the race.

The focus was always Le Mans, though, the final round of the 1960 World Sportscar Championship. Ferrari trailed Porsche, so the Italians had to win the race to take the title.

So, 4 works 250 Testa Rossas were entered, backed up by a NART entry, with a further 7 privateer Ferraris running in the 3-litre GT class to total 12 Ferraris in the 55-car field.

The privately entered Aston Martin DBR1s were a threat, as well as the all-new Jaguar E2A.

Wearing race Number 11, s/n 0774 went to the Belgian duo of Olivier Gendebien and Paul Frère.

Jim Clark in the Border Reivers DBR1 made the best getaway, but a Maserati led lap one and continued to pull away from the chasing Ferraris, which had settled down to occupy positions second through sixth during the first hour.

By the 2nd, the Maserati drew into the pits, would not restart, lost the lead and fell back.

2 works Ferraris fell out in quick succession, both stopping far from the pits due to poor fuel calculations, and the remaining hope was divided between #0774 and the NART-entered TR of the prodigiously talented Ricardo Rodríguez and Belgian teammate André Pilette.

When the heavens opened, drivers streamed into the pits for cushions so they could stick their heads over the rain-drenched glass.

Messrs Gendebien and Frère kept plugging away in #0774, leading through the darkness, and when the rain ceased the normal racing rhythm returned.

With the morning came fine weather and #0774 settled into a comfortable lead, crossing the line 4 laps clear and having been recorded in 1st position at every hr from 2 to 24, in the process reclaiming the World Championship.

There was one final race for #0774.

The factory overhauled the car, sold it to Eleanor (Josie) vNeumann, and Phil Hill raced it for her at Riverside in October.

The usual suspects were there: Sterling Moss in a Lotus 19 Monte-Carlo, Salvadori in an Ecurie Ecosse Cooper Monaco T59 Climax, Joakim Bonnier in a Porsche 718 RSK and Jack Brabham in the Jaguar E2A; local hero Billy Krause won in a Maserati Tipo 61.

Mr. Hill and #0774 came 7th.

Life after Ferrari has been quiet for #0774, which explains why it remains so original.

Ms. vNeumann sold #0774 to Tom O’Connor’s Rosebud Racing Team in Texas, and the engine was promptly removed and installed into a Lotus 19 that was crashed in 1963 by Innes Ireland.

The team disbanded, the engine was donated to a local college and the rolling chassis was given to Ireland, who sold it along with a Bentley 3 Litre to Sir Anthony Bamford.

Classic & Sports Car – Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa: Refined to perfection

The Ferrari collector then had his fast friend Willie Green fit a 250LM engine, before the car eventually found its way to Colin Crabbe, who raced it for 4 yrs including at a Le Mans support event in Y 1973.

Whenever asked about the TR, Colin recalls how his wife, Fiona, used to use it to go to the shops. A Le Mans winner in the car park of the grocery.

By Y 1977 it was owned by Paul Pappalardo, who reunited #0774 with its original engine and sent the car back to Maranello for a full restoration to Y 1960 specification.

He regularly used the TR at historic racing and concours events until he sold it to the current owner in Y 2004.

Since then, it has been seen at events all over the world, including most recently the 2019 Goodwood Revival, where it took part in the 1959 TT Celebration that included an evocative smoke display referencing the Aston Martin pit fire.

Today, though, on a warm autumn day, we’re using the small test track at Bicester Heritage so the only interference will be the odd whir of the airfield’s glider pulley between runs.

To gain access, you pull a skeletal door before dropping down into the blue cloth seat. The car is enveloping, the gauges big and clear, all as though you are in a tiny submersible looking out into a different world.

The driving position is comfortable, with pedals, steering wheel and gearlever exactly where you would want them.

Pressing the starter button, the motor turns over for a few seconds longer than perhaps comfortable before the 12 cylinders detonate into life.

And what a sound, listen

With the TR already warmed up, 1st gear is engaged and it moves off on to the short and technical track, with only 1 brief straight to really open up the engine.

The gearbox is heavy although the weight does not stop its well-oiled accuracy.

At Goodwood in last September, the owner said that the TR is easy to drive. We all consider the drivers in period to be superhuman for their feats of endurance, but it is soon obvious that the TR looks after its driver.

It is user-friendly, and it does not become harder as the speed rises. The chassis transmits to you every single thing that it is doing, with no fuss or drama. It simply gets on with it.

On the straight the 12-cylinder sound builds in full voice. It is breathtaking.

Those marginal gains, the little developments over the course of a few years, came to a triumphant head with the win for #0774 at Le Mans in Y 1960.

From a 1950’s peppered with success, Ferrari owned the first half of the new decade.

And this car, s/n 0774, was at the very heart of Enzo’s racing program.

It represents 1 of the great cars, built by 1 of the greatest works racing departments, during a great era of racing.

Ferrari is the Aristocrat of the automotive sector.

Enzo Ferrari’s iconic Italian Supercar manufacturer claimed the title according to the latest Brand Finance Global 500 2019 report launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

HeffX-LTN overall technical outlook for RACE is Bullish to Very Bullish, there is Key resistance 154.33, and support is at 148.83.

Our overall technical outlook is Nutral to Bullish in here

Ferrari finished Friday at 148.99, -6.63 in NY.

The Maranello Outfit’s shares were raised to Buy from Hold at HSBC.

Ferrari will continue to create value in the long term. Ferrari is a quality 1st long term luxury products investment, and I have called it at it at 200+/share long term, adjusting it to 200/share short term (after the virus) and siding with BAML to 230 long term for now.

Have a healthy weekend, Keep the Faith!

 

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