Sports & Classics of Monterey
12 - 14 August 2010
1958 Ferrari 250 "Pontoon Fender" Testa Rossa
To be auctioned on Saturday, August 14, 2010
High Bid of $10,700,000
- Chassis no. 0738TR
- One of only 21 Ferrari “Pontoon Fender” Testa Rossas built
- Sold new to Brazilian Jean-Louis Soares, of the Escuderia Lagartixa
- Well known and carefully documented history from new
- Colombo-designed three-liter, 300 hp, SOHC V12 matching numbers, original engine
- Comes with race-prepared Ferrari Classiche spare 250 TR Engine
It’s hard to think of any sports racer as passionate and fiery as the 1958 Ferrari Testa Rossa. From its lithe form and pouncing pontoon fenders to an exhaust note that’s been compared to the sound of staccato magnificence, the 250 TR is simply the iconic 1950s Ferrari by which all others are to be measured. In the late 1950s and well into the early 1960s, Ferrari’s “Testa Rossas” were raced by a plethora of various drivers who even now, some 50+ years later, still stand out as some of the all-time greatest individuals to ever take to the track.
The names tell it all: Luigi Musso, Olivier Gendebien, Jean Behra, Pedro Rodriguez, Wolfgang Von Trips, Lucien Bianchi, Joachim Bonnier, Paul Frere and Willy Mairesse. Americans included World Champion Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Carroll Shelby and Masten Gregory, along with Britons Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins.
This was truly a perfect example of “man, moment and machine.” As the 1950s ended and gentlemen racers began to be replaced more and more by dedicated professionals, Ferrari provided a common tool by which both, for a short period of time, were judged as equals. Today those fortunate few who have had the chance to put one of these amazing machines through its paces will quickly explain that the car is truly a sum far greater than its individual components. Maserati’s 450S was more powerful, and Aston Martin’s DBR1 had cleaner aerodynamics. Nonetheless, the TR as a whole easily eclipsed and stands far out, above and beyond any of these other contemporary Sports Racers. Add to the fact that even a driver of limited capability and experience can use with near frequency and abandon the Testa Rossas capabilities in real-world tours, rallies and races. One can see why the few that are left are so sought out by collectors the world over.
Testa Rossa literally translates to Red Head – taken from the red-painted cam covers on the first four-cylinder 500 Testa Rossas. This was done as a tribute to the Ferrari engineers who had achieved nearly 100 bhp per-liter with their new client Sports Racer. Today, the twelve-cylinder 250 TR is among the most valuable sports cars in the world. Even during the midst of one of the worst economic recessions of this era, RM had the pleasure of selling 0714/TR at its Leggenda e Passione auction in Maranello, Italy in 2009 for $12.4 million – a world record for a car at auction.
Aside from being one of the most beautiful automotive designs of all time, the prices paid for Pontoon Fender Testa Rossas were also earned by their incredible competition record. The 250 Testa Rossa and its derivations won four Le Mans Championships and four World Constructors Championships. In all, they won 10 of 19 championship races between 1958-61. Designer Sergio Scaglietti famously called them “Formula 1 cars with fenders.”
There were only a total of 34 different variations of Ferrari’s legendary Testa Rossa, including prototypes and the 330 TRI/LM. All had even-numbered chassis numbers, indicating they were built for competition. The most famous and well-known configuration is the pontoon-fendered design of which there are 21. With only 21 built, these are rarer even than the highly-valued 250 GTO, of which there are 36.
The engineering, or more appropriately the “reverse-engineering,” of the “Pontoon Fenders” came about over a very short period of time beginning in late 1956 when Ferrari’s lead drivers voiced their complaints about fading brakes when up against Aston Martin and Jaguars fitted with the latest in disc brake designs. Enzo Ferrari was never one who liked to be told what to do and resisted throwing away the proven designs of their latest Grand-Prix derived, alloy and magnesium competition drum brakes.
He voiced his concerns to his main body builder, Sergio Scaglietti, who realized there was little point in arguing with the “Il Commendatore” despite the flaws in his thinking. Enzo reasoned the main fault was the inability for the brakes to stay cool and shed heat. He further reasoned that there was far more frictional surface area in the drum design versus that of the then available disc brake calipers and un-vented rotors being offered by Girling and Lockheed. Theoretically, with more surface area, drum brakes should be better so long as the heat could be removed from them. Scaglietti set his people to the task, and the results, although a bit backwards from an engineering stand point, were introduced to international motoring media in November of 1957 at Ferrari’s annual press conference. As expected, the critics grumbled about the lack of innovative technology used on the car, but this was all lost in the attention that was received by the dramatic bodywork that Scaglietti’s team created. This was automotive design at it’s finest – it was edgy and aggressive, yet had the sporting elegance and style that only the Italians were capable of.
“RED HEAD” V12
As with any Ferrari car, the engine was the source of its life. The Testa Rossa was no exception, and it was fitted with the three-liter, single-overhead cam, V12 engine designed by Colombo, which had an 8,000 rpm redline. It was heavily modified from its street origins; plugs were moved outside the cylinder banks to make space for separate intake ports and the six gurgling Weber 38DCN carburetors which were mounted on top. The heads now had four bolts per cylinder instead of three. Compression was raised to 9.8:1, and the engine produced a direct 300 hp, powering the 1,759-lb car to 100 mph in only 16 seconds, with a top speed of 167 mph.
CHASSIS NO. 0738/TR
This car, 0738/TR, has had a long and colorful history spanning three continents and nearly a quarter-century of active racing in period and modern-era events. It was raced intensively in Brazil from 1958-67 and almost constantly in Europe since 1997.
0738/TR was ordered new by the Official Central and South American Ferrari Concessionaire Carlos Kauffman in Caracas, Venezuela, for Brazilian Jean-Louis Soares, who lived in Sao Paolo. Soares immediately went racing. His three-man team, Scuderia Lagartixa, was comprised of himself, Chico Landi and Luciano Della Porta. They would race 0738/TR 14 times in the next two-and-a-half years. The “Scuderia Lagartixa” (pronounced Largatisha) was a professionally run gentleman’s driving “stable” with its name being sourced from one of the local lizards often seen in the brush and on the sides of buildings native to the area. They were both quick and nimble but also regarded as a bit slippery, and Soares, Landi and Della Porta felt it was a fitting description of their combined driving styles.
Landi took the starting flag on June 22nd, 1958 at the Cinquentenario da Imigracao Japonesa at Interlagos, Brazil, carrying #82, and placed 7th. Its next outing was in Rio on September 28th at the Festival do Desporto at Barra da Tijuca, when Jose Gimenez Lopes finished 2nd. Lopes drove it again on November 30th at Interlagos and finished 4th.
Only ten days later on December 10th, 0738/TR was back at Barra da Tijuca, this time driven by Jean Louis Lacerda, who finished 7th. This was the last time the car would carry #82, as when Lacerda took the wheel at the Circuit de Pirajui on April 5th, 1959, it would be as #8. He scored the car’s first win at that event.
On May 31st, Lacerda was back at Interlagos, but this time he was a DNF. He must have learned the Rio circuit of Barra da Tijuca on his first appearance, because his next visit on July 27th, 1959 saw him finish 1st.
The third team member, Luciano Della Porta, got his turn behind the wheel at Interlagos on January 10th, 1960. He wasn’t as successful and finished 9th, carrying #79. But he persevered, and only a week later on January 17th, he scored a 7th place at Rio. He continued to improve, finishing 3rd at Piracicaba on March 13th, then 2nd at Brasilia on April 23rd. Back to Interlagos on June 12th and Della Porta was 5th. On September 9th, Della Porta and Chico Landi teamed up in the 500-km race at Interlagos and finished 2nd. The team’s last race was back at Barra da Tijuca in Rio on November 5th, 1960, again as #79, when Della Porta and Aquinaldo de Goes Filho DNF’d.
When the team sold 0738/TR to Giorgio Moroni in 1961, it was promptly shipped to Modena, Italy, where, with the assistance of Piero Drogo, it was re-bodied as a GTO-style coupe by his firm and sent back to Rio. In a sport that demanded innovation and new design, Moroni rationed that he could give 0738/TR this perceptibility by commissioning sleeker styled body-work, therefore preserving its ability to stay in competitive racing longer. The reality was, however, that the car was left untouched underneath and that this was purely a visual exercise. Della Porta gave 0738/TR its first outing as #79 at Interlagos on October 11th, 1964 and managed a credible 16th Overall.
The car took nine months off and then was driven by Camillo Christofaro at Barra Tijuca on September 19th, 1965. Carrying #18, he won the Gran Premio IV Centenario. Taking advantage of this result, Moroni sold 0738/TR to Claudio Klabin. A year later in 1966, Klabin traded 0738/TR to mining magnate Paulo Cesar Newlands for an Alfa Romeo 2000 Berlina!
Newlands may not have had much experience, but he knew what to do with 0738/TR. He went racing. He placed 16th at Jacarepagua on June 4th, 1967. His enthusiasm was rewarded at Petropolis on July 30th, when he claimed 1st place overall among a highly competitive field. Quite an accomplishment for a car that was manufactured almost a decade earlier! Returning to Jacarepagua on August 6th, he was back to 16th. Newlands sold 0738/TR to an unnamed American in Rio in 1969; he kept it until 1975, when it was acquired by Camillo Christofaro, who had won his first race in the car in Rio ten years earlier.
0738/TR IN RECENT YEARS
For more than 10 years, Christofaro carefully stored and preserved this wonderful Ferrari. Although a bit dusty and faded, the car remained incredibly original barring the replacement Berlinetta bodywork.
In 1986, famed collector, dealer and car hunter “extraordinaire” Colin Crabbe struck a deal with Christofaro and brought 0738/TR back to England. It changed hands in 1988 to American Bob Rubin, but he sold it a year later to Ferrari collector Sir Paul Vestey in England.
Under the watchful eye of Sir Paul in 1989/1990, 0738/TR was painstakingly and carefully returned to its original configuration by the marque specialists at David Cottingham’s DK Engineering. RS Panels meticulously hand-formed a completely accurate alloy body and then painted it yellow with a green nose band, in honor of its Brazilian heritage.
It cannot be overemphasized enough how original and unmolested this Ferrari was prior to restoration. An incredible cache of period photographs, documents and correspondence, along with detailed reference photos that were taken at the time the work was performed, document just how correct this Testa Rossa was under the replacement bodywork.
Sir Paul Vestey drove 0738/TR in the 1990 Mille Miglia, making it one of the very few 250TRs to ever participate in that famed event. He later drove the car at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed in 1994 and in the Italian Classic meeting in Italy in 1995. In October that year, however, Vestey found a Ferrari 330/P4 he could not live without and traded 0738/TR to Symbolic Motor Car Company of La Jolla, California.
0738/TR went on the road, first to the 1995 London Motor Show, then to the 1996 Retromobile event in Paris and finally to Techno Classica in Essen, Germany. In July 1996, 0738/TR entered its current ownership and immediately that fall was registered to participate in the Colorado Grand. Since then, it has been very busy indeed.
During its current ownership, 0738/TR has been actively campaigned in all of the great historic races organized around the globe. Throughout these races, it has consistently been one of the most competitive cars on the grid and has outright won many of the events. In May 1997, it raced in Monte Carlo before appearing at the 50th anniversary of Ferrari in Rome and racing at the Historic races at Silverstone in July. In May 1998, 0738/TR was driven at Ferrari days at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, at the Shell Historic Ferrari races at Dijon-Prenois in France in June, and at the Historic races in Silverstone in July, when it was damaged in a crash.
After being repaired in England, 0738/TR was back racing again at the Goodwood Revival event in September 1999, then back to Spa in May 2000 and on to the Shell Ferrari challenge at Le Mans in June. The Goodwood Festival of Speed followed in June, the Goodwood Revival again in September and the Shell Ferrari races that year in Hockenheim, Germany, where it was 1st in the drum brake class. 0738/TR finished the year in October at the Ferrari/Maserati challenge at Mugello, Italy.
The 2001 racing season started at Brands Hatch in the Ferrari/Maserati race in July but ended shortly thereafter in a race accident in Tunis. Tony Merrick repaired the car in time for the Spa Ferrari days in April 2002, followed by another Ferrari/Maserati race at Brands Hatch, then one at the Nürburgring in Germany in September and the finals in Misano Adriatico in Italy in October. The team even found time to compete in the Le Mans Classic!
2003 Ferrari/Maserati racing began at Spa with a 7th place, then Monza in May where 0738/TR was 6th. Donington Park yielded 5th and 3rd place finishes in June, and in Mugello in October, it was 3rd twice. The 2004 season shaped up the same way, with 3rd and 4th in Donington Park in September and an appearance at the finals in Monza in October.
In January 2005, 0738/TR raced at Moroso in Florida and then at Pau, France in May where it won its class. June’s Spa races saw a 2nd in class.
Ownership of one of these rare and beautiful Testa Rossas means so much more than just owning a car made by the prancing horse marque. They are as coveted as GTO ownership and guarantee access into any concours or racing event on the planet. But beyond that, they represent the essence of what car manufacturing is all about; the harmony between sculptural beauty and performance to provide that exhilarating experience that one can only achieve by getting behind the wheel and turning the key.
An RM Auctions specialist recently had the opportunity to test drive 0738/TR and reported that it is on the button and ready to race. “The sound note from the four exhausts is unlike anything you will ever hear and the view of the menacing front fenders from the cockpit is leagues beyond that of any automobile which has ever been produced.”
Richard Heseltine also drove the car for the upcoming September 2010 issue of Thoroughbred & Classic Cars magazine and wrote the following:
“This fabulous machine doesn’t like to be driven slowly. Shunting backwards and forwards at pottering speeds isn’t its bag but, once free of the stop-start stuff, the Ferrari’s true character emerges. It’s the car’s flexibility that astounds: it just picks up and goes, regardless of gear.
Whatever you’ve read about the Pontoon Fender Ferrari, whatever the great and the good say about it is true: it really is as toweringly great as legend says.”
In addition, 0738/TR also comes with a Ferrari Classiche 250 TR spare engine that has been expertly prepared to racing specifications by Pearson Engineering in the UK. Currently equipped with its original matching-numbers engine and with over a half-century of competitive racing to its credit, this is unquestionably one of the most desirable sports racing cars in existence. Testa Rossas seldom come to market. In the past decade, just three have been made available for purchase. Even more important is the fact that despite having replacement coachwork, 0738/TR is arguably one of the most correct and authentic of those that survive. The entire essence of what Ferrari stands for is captured within this single car – for the capable Ferraristi this opportunity surely cannot be missed!
Note: Please see auction office for access to these photos and other related items.
Please also note that an import duty of 2.5% of the purchase price, including buyer's premium, is payable on this car if purchased by a U.S. resident.
AddendumPlease note that should the buyer be a resident of the United States an additional duty of 2.5% is payable on the final sale price of the vehicle plus buyers commission.
Please note that this vehicle is sold on a bill of sale only.
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