Thursday, 18 November 2010

When is a redhead not a redhead ? Ferrari 500 TRC #0690 MD TR

The other day Rowdizen jr Cracker asked if I had ever seen a Ferrari Testa Rossa driving around town the answer to which is no, but a couple of months ago I did see this Ferrari 500 TRC chassis number #0690 MD TR which came from the second batch of Ferrari vehicles with the Testa Rossa name.

Having noticed that the Alta engines of the HWM Formula 2 team had noticeably superior fuel efficiency compared to his own Colombo designed V12's which dominated the Formula 2 class Enzo instructed Aurelio Lamperdi to design a 4 cylinder 2 litre / 121 cui engine.

The Lamperdi alloy four pot featured double over head cams acting on 2 valves per cylinder. Installed in a Formula Two car this engine powered Alberto Ascari two world championshops in 1953 and 54. This 4 cylinder engine was also used in the successful 500 Mondial Sports Cars of 1954 - 56 which scored numerous class wins.

Towards the end of 1956 Vittorio Jano completed work on his update of the 500 Mondial which featured red cam covers on its Lamperdi 2 litre 4 cylinder engine and so the Testa Rossa legend was born, the TR scored a maiden win at Monza in the hands of Brits Collins and Hawthorn.

The first batch of 500 TR's were rendered almost instantly obsolete by new sports car regulations, written and introduced after the disaster at Le Mans in 1955, known as Appendix C which required sports cars to race with full width screens, a passenger door, and fuel tanks mounted outside of the cockpit. The second batch of Testa Rossa's became known as the 500 TRC of which #0690 MD TR is one of less than 20 examples.

This particular car has an unfortunate history, it was entered in the 1958 Cuban GP, an event during which pole sitter Juan Manuel Fangio was kidnapped by Castros forces and he ended up watching the race on television. Armando Garcia Cifuentes was at the wheel of #0690 when he lost control on a patch of oil, hit a curb and promptly ploughed into a spectator area. Seven spectators were killed in the accident over 40 were injured, miraculously Armando survived after being taken to hospital on the bonnet of a competitors TR.

It is not clear what happened to #0690 after that crash but the Indiana Jones of finding forgotten cars Colin Crabbe located it and it has now been restored with a non standard 12 cylinder engine allegedly sourced from a 250 GT Lusso, one of the more expensive 250 GT variants ! It is not known what happened to the original 4 cylinder Testa Rossa engine.

Note uniquely for a 500 TRC #0690 now has a large central perspex bonnet scoop for the V12 carburettors.

In order to not disappoint jr Cracker entirely here is a photo by Ed Arnaudin of a 500 TRC compete with a 4 cylinder red cam cover engine and without the large central bonnet scoop. The vehicle in this photo taken at Lime Rock possibly 24th April 1959 appears to be chassis number #0706 MD TR entered by the MJ Garber team and driven by Swiss driver Gaston Andrey.

Thanks once again to Steve Arnaudin for letting me share one of his father Ed's photos. Hope you enjoyed todays edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psycho on tyres' hope you'll join me again tomorrow, don't forget to come back now !


  1. Before I read the caption for the last picture I KNEW I was looking at Lime Rock. Those are our stomping grounds, and, except for the tow/every day vehicles, the paddock still looks like that at our Vintage events!
    You have definitely found your stride, Art! Bravo! Besides, who doesn't adore looking at Ferraris?!

  2. Chief, I suspect your Dad was there the day that the white red-head was photographed.

    Nice history, Art. Thank you! Excellent pictures!

  3. Glad to here not much has changed at lime Rock Chief :-) Ed Arnaudin is the one we should be thanking for the pictures taken back in the day :-)

    Thanks Racer always a pleasure :-)

  4. That is my favorite/#1/best looking/coolest car ever made. We don't have many of those driving around MN. but I did see one at the Henery Ford museum. I just started at it for about 1/2 hour. It took my breath away. Thanks

  5. Always a pleasure to please JC if i come across anymore you'll be the first to know :-)