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  Article Image gallery (28) Chassis (2) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1959
Numbers built:5 (3 converted to TR59/60 spec)
Designed by:Pinin Farina / Fantuzzi
Predecessor:Ferrari 250 TR58
Successor:Ferrari 250 TR59/60
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:August 08, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionMotorsport's governing body, the Commissione Sportiva Internazionale (CSI) was contemplating ways to make sports car racing safer and more popular in the late 1950's. The fatal accidents in the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans and 1957 Mille Miglia had dealt the sport some serious blows. In the meantime Ferrari and Maserati were in a tight battle for the world championship with some of the most advanced and powerful machinery seen to date. There was little interest from other manufacturers to enter this highly expensive "two horse race". British manufacturers Aston Martin and Jaguar, more interested in good publicity than global domination, made a successful exception for the legendary Le Mans race. Throughout 1957 various methods of hindering the cars speed and making the sport more accessible were debated. Eventually a displacement limit was decided upon, but figures mentioned ranged from 3 to 3.5 litres for a while longer. When the final regulations for the 1958 season were announced in September 1957, Ferrari had already been very busy developing and testing their upcoming racer.

Anticipating the upcoming changes, Ferrari set up a new program in the spring of 1957 to run alongside the works assault on the world championship. These highly advanced racers featured large displacement V12 engines with quad-cam heads, matched only by Maserati's 450 S, powered by a quad-cam V8. The first decision to be made was whether to continue on the multiple cam path, or to revert back to the simpler and lighter single cam layout. Simplicity of the engine would greatly enhance the new car's appeal as a privateer racer, but the resulting power loss might hurt the on-track performance. With the current line-up of four cylinder customer racers slowly losing their competitiveness, it was time for a replacement. The latter option was chosen and work began, converting the available three litre engine into a competition monster. At the time this engine was very successful in the 250 GT road racers, but its design dated back to the dawn of Ferrari.

The first signs of things to come was a 250 GT equipped with a very hot version of Colombo's V12 that showed a stunning pace in the 1957 Mille Miglia. That engine featured a more aggressive camshaft and timing design and was virtually identical to the road car engine which already yielded an impressive 260 bhp. For the Nürburgring 1000 km race a similar engine was fitted in a 290 MM chassis, which was clothed in a body similar to the 500 TRC. Although hastily assembled, the new prototype racer (s/n 0666) was only slightly slower than the large displacement competition in practice and qualifying. Masten Gregory had moved into fourth before handing the car to a very inexperienced driver, who gradually dropped down the leader board to finish in tenth position. Back at the factory, engine development continued resulting in a 3.1 litre variant thanks to a slightly larger bore. This was just one of many changes, which saw the power grow to 320 bhp at 8000 rpm. A second prototype chassis was constructed and clothed in a Scaglietti designed 'pontoon' fendered body. Equipped with these highly potent engines the cars were entered mainly for testing purposes in the season's remaining races with mixed success.

With the complete regulations announced early in September, Ferrari could commence assembly of the independently successful test bits into one car. The conventional steel tubular ladder frame was carried over from the first prototype. The DeDion rear axle was reserved for the works racers, while the customer cars received a live axle. Scaglietti's remarkable 'pontoon' style body was carried over from the second prototype. The reason behind the seemingly separate fenders was to allow for a sufficient supply of cold air to the drum brakes. Its main disadvantage was the increased lift at high speeds and the works cars soon received fully enveloping bodies. The heart of the 3 litre prototype racer was a highly modified version of Colombo's short block V12, of which only the internal dimensions reminded of the 250 GT engine it was derived. The plugs were moved outside the cylinder banks to free up space for separate intake ports and six twin-choke Weber Carburetors. To cope with the additional forces the heads now featured four bolts per cylinder instead of the three found on the street engine. Compression was bumped to 9.8 and the engines were rated at 300 bhp.

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  Article Image gallery (28) Chassis (2) Specifications