Rio Prestige

New Car: 1961 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

This very well-presented and imposing Ferrari Testa Rossa/61 is powered by a front-mounted 4-litre V12 cylinder engine driving via a 4-speed and overdrive manual gearbox and it has been built up since 2000 using all restored, renovated, and fabricated sun-assemblies – the majority derived from a Ferrari 330GT 2-plus-2 donor vehicle whose chassis serial now identifies this impressive tribute to the 1961-season works sports-racing prototype.

The car was assembled for its late owner, a prominent, highly respected and long-serving member of the FIA Historic Commission. He entrusted specialist engineer Magnus Ahlqvist of the Swedish Motorima company to create this Testa Rossa/61 replica, and what was originally the factory-crafted bodywork of this entirely distinctive model was created with close reference to copies of the original drawings.

The modified and re-tuned 330GT 4-litre V12-cylinder engine develops close to 300bhp, and the completed car weighs less than one ton – 950 kilogrammes being claimed for it. The body panelling is in fact hand-made and finished in overall 1.25-1.5mm thick aluminium-alloy sheet, and since its completion this wonderfully evocative – and most attractively road-useable – Ferrari sports-spyder has carried Swedish road registration. The car is therefore EU registered and taxes paid.

The original Ferrari Testa Rossa/61 model emerged in what many tipped to be the final season of open-cockpit sports-prototype racing. The governing FIA was intent upon substituting a GT closed-car World Championship for the old Sports Car competition, and only four springtime sports car classics were confirmed on the 1961 racing calendar – the Sebring 12-Hours, the Targa Florio, Nurburgring 1,000Kms and Le Mans 24-Hour race. Another followed, at Pescara in Italy.

At the Maranello factory chief engineer Chiti had installed a wind tunnel, in which he developed a new body shape for the 1961 cars, with long, pointed nostril nose, high rear deck and truncated transom tail. Initially a headrest fin was featured, reminiscent of the D-Type Jaguar. The cars were based upon multi-tubular spaceframe chassis with all-independent suspension. The 3-litre V12 engine was set well back and low in the frame and drove via a five-speed transmission inherited from the preceding TRI/60 model.

In period only two of the original works Ferrari TR/61 cars were built new – after 1960 chassis ‘0780’ had been re-developed as a prototype for the new model. The true TR/61s were chassis ‘0792’ with nostril nose and transom tail, and its sister ‘0794’ – both initially completed in January 1961. Only the first car was pressed into almost immediate service, being entered in the Sebring 12-Hours classic in Florida in which it won handsomely, co-driven by Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien. For the fourth consecutive year a Ferrari Testa Rossa had won the opening World Championship-status sports car race of a new season, vindicating the Italian company’s policy of “get them built and tested” well in advance.

The Sebring-winning car later reappeared in the Le Mans 24-Hours classic, in which it was crewed by the Rodriguez brothers – Pedro and Ricardo – and was forced into retirement by engine failure. The second TR/61 made its racing debut at Le Mans, in which it was driven to yet another victory by Phil Hill/Olivier Gendebien. It was sold post-race to Luigi Chinetti – Ferrari’s legendary American importer – and it was campaigned by Pedro Rodriguez in the Canadian sports car Grand Prix (2nd), it won the Governor’s Trophy race at Nassau, Bahamas, and finished third there in the Nassau Trophy race.

This is a most impressive Ferrari V12 reproducing what is regarded by many knowledgeable enthusiasts as being the most outstanding expression of front-engined works car beauty ever to emerge from the legendary Maranello factory. We recommend the closest inspection, and consideration. It would enhance any collection as a highly useable proposition.