Model history: Ferrari will always be most famous for the lovely V12 engines that have powered the company's road and racing cars from the very beginnings in 1947. The first two of the manufacturer's Grand Prix World Championships (1952 and 1953) were nevertheless won by the four cylinder engined 500 F2. By 1953 this Aurelio Lampredi designed 'four' had also made its way into a sports car for the first time.
In its original sports car guise, the twin-cam four cylinder engine displaced just under 2.5 litre. This was soon followed by production versions with three and two litre displacements, powering the 750 Monza and 500 Mondial respectively. Although usually in contention for class victories, the four cylinder Ferraris also scored outright victories with a victory in the 1956 Sebring 12 Hours with the 3.4 litre 860 Monza as a highlight. The sheer number of different models and engines Ferrari produced at this time was startling and the company, understandably, decided to simplify the line-up.
The only four cylinder engined car made available to customers in 1956 was the new 500 TR. Powered by a two litre version of the four cylinder engine, it was a replacement and an evolution of the 500 Mondial. Developed under the guidance of Ferrari's new chief-engineer, Vittorio Jano, the latest two litre model featured a straightforward steel tubular frame. Double wishbones were used at the front, while a solid rear axle replaced the heavier and much more complicated DeDion setup used on the earlier cars. The 'Tipo 131' chassis again featured large, finned drum brakes.
The reason for the 'TR' or 'Testa Rossa' (red head) name was found in the engine compartment; the latest version of Lampredi's 'four' featured red cylinder heads. The 'Tipo 131' engine sported two Weber carburettors, twin-spark ignition and a dry-sump system. It produced a formidable 180 bhp, which was ten more than the outgoing 500 Mondial's engine. This power was transferred to the rear wheels through a sturdy five-speed gearbox. The 500 TR was tightly wrapped by Scaglietti with a slippery aluminium body that featured two blisters on the engine cover to clear the cam covers.
The first ever Ferrari Testa Rossa debuted in Africa in the hands of the great Belgian privateer Jacques Swaters. He immediately scored a class win, beating the previously dominant Maseratis. While the factory produced the customer cars, the works team developed a 2.5 litre version specifically for Le Mans. Known as the 625 LM, three were entered in the race and the fastest placed an impressive third behind the winning 3.4 litre Jaguar and the second placed 3 litre Aston Martin. Easily distinguishable by their Touring bodywork, they were later sold by the factory with the 'standard' two litre engine.
In addition to the three 625 LMs, seventeen 500 TRs were sold to customers in 1956. For the 1957 season, the 'Appendix C' was added to the international sporting regulations, which specified that sports cars should should have full width windscreens and two doors. As a response Ferrari developed the 500 TRC. In addition to the obvious changes to the Pinin Farina styled body, it also featured a slightly more powerful version of the engine and a beefed up chassis. Ferrari produced a total of nineteen examples, two of which were powered by the 625 engine.
In the hugely popular two litre class, the conventional 500 TR(C) faced increasing competition from the more sophisticated Lotus and Porsche sports racers. Raw power and reliability were no longer enough to dominate. At the end of the 1957 season, the four cylinder Ferrari was phased out and replaced by various V6 engined models. The 500 TRC in particular remains as one of the most beautiful Ferraris ever built and the 'Testa Rossa' name would become stuff of legends courtesy of the V12 engined 250 TR that headed Ferrari's sports car program with great success between 1957 and 1962.
Chassis: 0670 MDTR
Chassis 0670 MDTR was the sixth of a total of nineteen TRCs produced in 1957. It was sold to a Sicilian, who used the two litre machine in the final Mille Miglia. He finished twelfth overall and third in class. Passing through several hands it continued to be raced until it was acquired by Giulio Dubini in 1966. His family retained the car until 1998 when it was sold to Italian historic racer Corrado Cupellini. He campaigned chassis 0670 MDTR for the better part of five years before selling the car on the United States.
Its new American owner had the car meticulously restored by Bert Skidmore's Intrepid Motorcar Company. He repainted the car in its original two-tone finish of red with a yellow band. Since then it has been regularly shown and raced at events across the United States for several years. In 2006 the current owner acquired the car at RM's Monterey Sports & Classic Car auction for just shy of $2.3 million. Two years later he offered the car for the first time at Gooding's Pebble Beach Auction but refused a high bid of $3.2 million. The car will now be offered again at RM Auctions' Villa d'Este sale on May 21st. It is estimated to sell for EUR 2.6 - EUR 3.2 million.(Source: RM Auctions
Chassis: 0696 MDTR
Sold new to French privateer Fernand Tavano, this 500 TRC sported the rare combination of French racing blue with a red stripe. Tavano debuted the car at Le Mans but engine problems ended his race early. He subsequently campaigned the car in local events with great success for several more seasons. The Frenchman traded the car in 1960 for a 250 GT SWB and the factory subsequently sold the car to Count Giovanni Volpi, who quickly passed it on the the Scuderia Centro Sud. The Monza based racing team used the 500 TRC for their driving school. The current owner's family acquired the Ferrari in 1968 and have only very rarely shown the car since. Between 2000 and 2007 it was meticulously restored to its original configuration.