1957 Ferrari 500 TRC Spider by Scaglietti
Presented by RM Sotheby’s.
THE TESTA ROSSA LEGEND BEGINS
Although best known for designing the long-block V-12 engine that Ferrari drove to victory in the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans, engineer Aurelio Lampredi was also responsible for a very powerful four-cylinder engine. successful. A mainstay of Ferrari’s World Drivers’ Championships in 1952 and 1953 in Formula 2 competition (the years in which Formula 1 was essentially canceled due to a lack of competition), this engine was quickly carried over to Formula 2 racing. sports cars, propelling the 500 Mondial and 750 Monza Models to numerous victories. The engine’s strengths were especially evident on shorter coilover circuits, where the lightweight, high-revving engine could power through corners, often leaving V-12-equipped competitors in the dust.
After Lampredi’s exit in 1955, a new team of engineers led by former Alfa Romeo maestro Vittorio Jano were tasked with developing the four-cylinder engine even further, and their work included fitting a new block -cylinders that has been finished in gloss red. Paint. This marked the debut of the mighty Testa Rossa, a model that would eventually be fitted with a redhead V-12, and which would become arguably the most legendary sports racing prototype series of all time.
The 500 TR made its Senegal Grand Prix debut with Jacques Swaters’ Ecurie Francorchamps racing team, achieving immediate success with a 1st in class. The majority of the following examples were bodied by Scaglietti and intended for Ferrari’s top private customers, while a small handful were upgraded to 2.5-litre engines and bodied by Touring for use as Scuderia Ferrari Works cars . It was two of these last examples that achieved the model’s first major international success by finishing 1st and 3rd in the 1956 Supercortemaggiore Grand Prix at Monza. The success continued throughout 1956 with the new “Red Head” taking over 30 class and overall victories in North America and Europe.
For 1957, the 500 TR was updated to comply with the latest FIA Appendix C regulations, and the model was duly renamed the 500 TRC. Three inches lower than its predecessor, the TRC used a conventional engine-mounted four-speed gearbox and live rear axle, avoiding the heavier De Dion rear used in the 500 Mondial. With stronger connecting rods and crankshaft and a lighter flywheel, the Type 131C engine was powered by twin Weber 40 DCOA/3 carburettors, combining to develop 190 horsepower and good for a potential top speed of 153 mph. Developed exclusively for private racing customers, the 500 TRC went on to claim class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Mille Miglia, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 1000 KM of the Nürburgring.
The 500 TRC was built in a limited quantity of 19 examples, and it was the last four-cylinder model Ferrari ever produced. Sure, with its sultry Scaglietti open body and red-headed engine, it proved to be just the opening salvo for legend Testa Rossa, but what a memorable first chapter it was.
A WINNING ‘RED HEAD’
Campaigned to many victories by a range of luminary racing drivers, this handsome 500 TRC is a highly desirable example of the early Testa Rossa. Inserted at the end of production, the 0706 MDTR was the penultimate car built and in April 1957 it was lent by the factory to François Picard who repainted it in France blue and raced it under the banner of his Ecurie Los Amigos. After taking three class wins in early June, including 5th place in the Portuguese Grand Prix, Picard teamed up with rising star Richie Ginther to race the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Despite a promising start to the race, the TRC retired following a water pump failure.
In late 1957, the Ferrari was sold by Luigi Chinetti to Mike Garber of Hamden, Connecticut, the sponsor of legendary Swiss-born racing driver Gaston “Gus” Andrey. After emigrating to the United States, Andrey went on to a highly successful career that included four SCCA championships and two Trans-Am championships, driving for Ferrari NART, Maserati and Alfa Romeo, among others.
Always finished in his blue Le Mans livery, Andrey first rode the beautiful 500 TRC at Nassau Bahamas Speed Week in December 1957. Andrey failed to complete the Tourist Trophy event but returned in strength with a 2nd place in the Governor’s Trophy preliminary race and a respectable 5th in class in the hotly contested Nassau Trophy race. After Nassau the car stayed in the South East and was entered by Mike Garber in the 1958 12 Hours of Sebring. Driven by Andrey, Bill Loyd and for a short stint the great Dan Gurney the car ran well until lap 125 when it suffered rear axle bearing failure.
After Sebring, the car was repainted in a two-tone scheme of white over a red rocker panel, red stripe and Swiss emblems on either side, paying homage to Andrey’s Swiss heritage. 0706 MDTR was raced by Andrey in a multitude of races through 1959, earning him the SCCA E-Modified Championships in 1958 and 1959. Almost always in the top 10, the car took an overall victory at Lime Rock in April 1958, and a class victory at the 1958 President’s Cup in Marlboro, Maryland. He also won his class at Bridgehampton in June 1958, Virginia International Raceway in October 1958, Thompson in May 1959 and Lime Rock in July 1959.
The Ferrari’s success garnered good coverage in the motoring press, including an article in the October 1959 issue of Road & Track, and coverage of the car’s status for the January 1960 issue of Sports Car Graphic. In early 1960, Andrey offered the TRC for sale, and over the next two decades it passed through a documented chain of owners across the United States.
In the early 1960s, while being driven to a racing school by Henry Hironaka, the original 2 liter engine number 0706 MDTR dropped a valve and was removed from the car. For a time, 0706 MDTR, like many used Ferrari race cars of the time, had a Ford 289 V-8 engine installed to keep it operational. Later the Ford engine was removed and a new 2 liter engine, stamped with the number 0582 LM, was installed.
In May 1980, Stanley Nowak found the original 0706 MDTR engine in Luigi Chinetti’s warehouse, and he quickly sold it to Derek Lees in Birmingham, England, who installed it in the restoration of a 500 TR, chassis number 0640 MDTR.
A RETURN TO THE CIRCUIT
In 1984 the 500 TRC was purchased by Count Hubertus von Dönhoff in Germany, and over the next 10 years he entered the car twice in the Mille Miglia Storica and three times in the AvD-Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. In 1995 the Ferrari was back in the United States and proudly displayed at the 1995 Cavallino Classic, winning the Coppa per Quattro Cilindri for best four-cylinder Ferrari.
Subsequently, the 500 TRC was sold in September 1998 to Roger Willbanks, Sr., a respected Colorado-based collector who entered the car in the 2001 Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance, the 2003 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and at the Pebble Beach 2005. Concours d’Elegance. Following the sale to a New York collector in 2006, the car was presented at the 2007 Reading Concours d’Elegance, where it won the Scaglietti Prize. In 2014 this 500 TRC was acquired by Oscar Davis and, more importantly, the car was reunited with matching engine number 0706 MDTR, which was recently reinstalled in preparation for the car’s current offering. Its spare engine, number 0582 LM, accompanies the sale.
Now offered by the Oscar Davis Collection, this sensational spider continues to benefit from an older restoration. It claims significant competition use, having been driven by Richie Ginther at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and by Gaston Andrey at the 12 Hours of Sebring – also forming the main component of his 1958 and 1959 SCCA championships.
Simply impressive in its menacing red-on-black Scaglietti bodywork, this striking 500 TRC would make an excellent participant in major marquee events or can be enjoyed at vintage racing gatherings like the Mille Miglia Storica, Le Mans Classic or Monterey Historics, in addition to the best elegance competitions in the world. The voluptuous bodywork instantly declares the car’s position in the evolution of a famous legend, this masterpiece of motor racing known forever by two words: Testa Rossa.
This vehicle will be offered as part of the Oscar Davis collection, for sale at our annual Monterey sale August 18-20. View the entire catalog online and register to bid today.