1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa - One of The Most Desirable Cars Ever

October 7, 2015
Marijan Malcevic

  • Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

The Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa (or Ferrari TR) is one of the few race cars based on Ferrari 250, an exceptional car which was the inspiration for some of the most famous automobiles in 1950s and 1960s. Testa Rossa is among the most successful racing Ferraris ever, with three overall wins at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1958, 1960 and 1961, and four wins at Sebring.

Second most valuable Ferrari model

With numerous victories, a beautiful design and only 34 actual samples, it is of little surprise that the Testa Rossa quickly became one of the most desirable cars ever. The best testimony of that fact is the astronomical price that the Testa Rossa managed to reach at classic cars auctions. The machine holds the record for being auctioned at a whopping price of 16.4 million dollars. After the 250 GTO, the 250 Testa Rossa is the second most valuable Ferrari model in history.

Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa prototype

One of the very first prototypes of Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

First Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

The very first 250 Testa Rossa was created in 1957. The name Testa Rossa literally means ‘red head’ and reveals one of the unique characteristics of the car — red valve covers on the the head of the V12 engine. The Colombo Tipo 125 V12 engine had the same displacement (2953 ccm) as the rest of the 250 series but was tuned to produce far more power, up to 300 hp.

The original 250 TR had an unorthodox bodywork by Scaglietti. The front fenders were visually separated from the central spider body, a design inspired by Formula One racers, with air ducting across the front brakes and out through the open area behind the wheels.

Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa front fenders

The main design characteristic was the front fenders visually separated from spider body

Different design for each new model

Ferrari was changing the design simultaneously with changes made in production, so the 1960 and 1961 models looked very different compared to those produced earlier. In 1959, the Testa Rossa’s bodywork was redesigned by Pinin Farina and built by Fantuzzi. Later versions had the distinctive ‘sharknose’, which it shared with Ferrari’s F1 car of that time (Ferrari 156).

The 250 Testa Rossa was produced for racing, and from day one, the car began to score victories across the globe. Olivier Gendebien and Maurice Trintignant failed to finish the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans, but one year later, the first victory was in store for them.

Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, 24 Hours of LeMans, black and white

Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa at 24 Hours of LeMans

Dominant maiden win at Le Mans

Olivier Gendebien and Phil Hill won the 1958 24 Hours of Le Mans in a very dominant style, with a 12-lap gap ahead of the second placed team in an Aston Martin DB3S. A total of 10 Ferrari 250 TRs entered the race but only three finished. The Scuderia Ferrari scored a few more victories with the 250 Testa Rossa (1000 km of Buenos Aires, 12h Sebring, Targa Florio) and won the 1958 World-Sportscar-Championship.

Neither one of the three factory was able to finish the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans, but success followed in 1960. Olivier Gendebien was the winner again, along with Paul Frere. Scuderia Ferrari’s car #17 won ahead of another 250 TR belonging to the North American Racing Team, driven by Ricardo Rodriguez and Andre Pilette. In the same year, Phil Hill and Cliff Allison won the 1000 km of Buenos Aires with a 250 TR59/60 Fantuzzi Spyder and Scuderia Ferrari won the championship title in the 1960 World-Sportscar-Championship.

Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, original interior sold at auction for 12,4 million

Beautiful interior of Ferrari Testa Rossa sold for 12,4 million dollars

1-2-3 victory at the 1961 24 Hours of Le Mans

Third Le Mans victory for Olivier Gendebien and 250 TR followed in 1961. The second driver was Phil Hill. The duo won ahead of teammates Willy Mairesse and Mike Parkes in a similar car. Ferrari’s success was completed with one more 250 GT in third place, driven by Pierre Noblet and Jean Guichet. That year, Ferrari won the World Sports Car Championship once more, with four wins in five races.

From 1962 onwards, the focus was on 250 GTO and 250 Testa Rossa was ready for retirement. In some events, the 250 TRs were driven by privateers with much success, for example the time when Jo Bonnier and Lucien Bianchi won the 1962 12 Hours of Sebring.

Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, auction record for cars

According to some unofficial sources, the Ferrari 250 TR numbered 0704 was sold for 39 million dollars

The most expensive car ever?

After six years of active racing, the ‘redheaded’ Ferraris changed numerous owners. Some sources say that the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa with chassis number 0704 was sold last year for 39 million dollars.

The information wasn’t official because it was a private transaction, not an auction. However, if it’s true, then it is the most expensive car ever, with its price even higher than the official record holder 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, which was sold for 38 millions.

The car with the number 0704 was the second prototype, the one which competed in 1957. It was used later in many other races and after its racing career ended, it was donated to the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit. After 30 years in the museum, the car once more changed locations in the hands of a few private owners.

Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa spider, auction record

The car with chassis number 0666 is officially confirmed as the most expensive Ferrari Testa Rossa

The car #0666 is officially the most expensive

Officially confirmed as the most expensive Testa Rossa is the one with chassis number 0666. It was first built as a prototype of 1957 250 TR, debuted at Nurburgring and was used at the 1958 Le Mans by North American Racing Team (NART).

That car was sold in 2011 for 16.39 million dollars with fees and commission. The second most expensive was the 250 TR with chassis number 0714, sold in 2009 for 12,4 million dollars.

Video : Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa scoring its first victory at 24 Hours of Le Mans, 1958

Photo: auto.ferrari.com.

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