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  Ferrari 500 TRC

  Article Image gallery (52) Chassis (2) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1957
Numbers built:19
Designed by:Pinin Farina
Predecessor:Ferrari 500 TR
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:May 11, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionFerrari 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.

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  Article Image gallery (52) Chassis (2) Specifications