Chassis number: 0666 TR
The development of the Ferrari 250 TR began in early 1957 with the car presented here, 0666 TR, which has the distinction of serving as the first prototype for the 250 Testa Rossa series.
0666 TR made its debut at the Nürburgring 1,000 Km, coming 6th in qualifying and 10th in the race. It then underwent development and appeared at the Swedish Grand Prix equipped with an experimental 3.1-liter engine, but this gave out, and the car retired.
Between September and October 1957, 0666 TR was stripped of its envelope body and refinished by Scaglietti in the quintessential pontoon-fender style. At that time, the prototype received its definitive driveline, complete with the Tipo 128 LM Testa Rossa motor and 4-speed gearbox.
This car then participated in the Venezuelan Grand Prix, coming in 3rd overall, before being transported to Argentina for the first race of the 1958 season, the Buenos Aires 1000 Km, finishing 2nd overall. The Targa Florio was the last outing for 0666 TR as a Scuderia Ferrari team car. It was in 4th place when it retired.
In June 1958, 0666 TR was sold to Luigi Chinetti and delivered to him at Le Mans to be driven by Dan Gurney and Bruce Kessler. At around 10 pm in the rain, Kessler collided with a privately entered D-type Jaguar, resulting in a fire and the Testa Rossa’s subsequent retirement.
The incident required a factory rebuild and a fresh pontoon-fender body from Scaglietti. By the beginning of 1959, Chinetti realized that 0666 TR would not be competitive, and it was sold to Rod Carveth, a Californian privateer who entered it for the 12 Hours of Sebring, where it retired. The same fate awaited Carveth and 0666 TR at the Nürburgring 1000 Km. In June the Ferrari traveled to Le Mans, where the engine failed on the Mulsanne straight. At Laguna Seca, Phil Hill drove 0666 TR but it didn’t qualify.
In June 1962, Carveth offered the car for sale. Enter 0666 TR’s fourth owner, Bev Spencer, a local Buick dealer who used it as his personal street car until his new 250 GTO arrived.
After the original engine finally gave out, it was removed and traded to Pete Lovely. When its then-owner believed the aging Ferrari was worth more in cash than as a car, he doused the interior in gasoline and set it on fire. While it was enough to collect the insurance money, the result was little more than a superficial burn. In 1970, Charles Betz and Fred Peters purchased the Testa Rossa. Over the next decade, 0666 TR was restored to a show-quality standard using an appropriate engine from 0724 TR.
By the late 1980s, the restoration was complete, and 0666 TR began collecting concours awards. In 2002, Betz and Peters sold it to the current caretaker, a preeminent collector, who commissioned Dennison International to complete a restoration that would bring 0666 TR back to its original team-car appearance and specification. Instrumental to this project was a significant acquisition: the original, matching-numbers engine and a correct rear differential.
The freshly restored prototype 250 TR made its debut at the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and earned a First in Class. At the Cavallino Classic, it took an FCA Platinum Award and the TR Cup. At the 2007 Ferrari Club of America Meet, it received the Coppa Bella Macchina, the Coppa GT and its second Phil Hill Award.
With its prototype status, exquisite beauty, proud race record and uncommon authenticity, 0666 TR must be considered one of the great Ferrari sports racing cars.
|1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa Prototype
|21 (pontoon fenders)
|Original List Price:
|Tune Up Cost:
|Chassis Number Location:
|Left frame member by steering box
|Engine Number Location:
|Right rear above motor mount
|Ferrari Club of America
This Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, Lot 18, sold for $16,390,000, including buyer’s premium, at Gooding’s Pebble Beach sale on August 20, 2011. This price sets a new world record for the highest amount ever paid for a motor car at auction.
There’s far more to say about this unique motor car than we can fit into these pages, so I’ll get straight to the point. The 250 Testa Rossa is Ferrari’s most celebrated sports-racing model, a legend in car collecting circles and one of the most valuable cars in the world. Introduced in 1957 in anticipation of the upcoming 3-liter limit in the World Sports Car Championship, it stole a march on rivals Jaguar and Maserati, who had been pinning their hopes on “big bangers” such as the D-type and 450S, and achieved success everywhere it raced, from Europe and South America to the all-important SCCA races contested by Ferrari’s wealthy U.S. privateer clients, earning the company healthy profits.
Named Testa Rossa (pronounced “ross-ah,” not “rose-ah,” meaning “redhead”) after its red cam covers, 34 of these cars were built from 1957 until 1962. No two were identical, but Works TRs were generally right-hand drive.
From 1959 onward, production was devoted to Works cars, which featured disc brakes and separate gearboxes with rear differentials. All except the last TR (0808) had 3-liter motors largely derived from the production 250 GT.
Dueling opinions on pre-sale value
Our subject car, 0666 TR, is the first of two prototypes, both of which ran as works cars. As with all prototypes, there will be buyers who prefer the recognition of the standard model and others who enjoy owning something different. I exchanged opinions with many experts and fellow TR owners before and after the auction as to the value of this car and its historical significance — and heard both ends of the spectrum.
“A friend of mine would pay eight to ten million,” said one owner, “as it’s not a standard TR chassis, and I doubt much of the original bodywork survives.” This, of course, was a reference to not one but two fires that the car endured during its early years.
Other TR owners were more upbeat, confiding that they had received approaches north of $20m for their cars and that the auction estimate seemed reasonable for 0666. It would be British understatement to say that on the evening of August 20, in the middle of a worldwide economic storm, there was widespread interest in the fate that awaited this very high-profile Ferrari under the auctioneer’s gavel.
They needn’t have worried. A new collector — just starting out at 73 years old — kicked off proceedings with a $10m bid. Rapid salvos ensued: $11m, $11.5m, $11.8m. At $12.4m, the auctioneer announced the reserve had been met, and it became a two-horse race between an absentee bidder and a telephone bidder in mostly $100k increments. When the mystery phone bidder prevailed at $14.9m, the hammer went down and cheers went up.
A rich, sometimes painful, life
To paint an accurate picture of this car, I consulted various sources. David Gooding opined that the 250 TR is undervalued compared with its closed sister, the 250 GTO — a sentiment echoed by many (most vocally those TR owners who don’t also have a GTO) — and that given time, this will seem a good buy. Gooding believed that 0666’s history was more illustrious than most, and when shown the post-fire photographs, bidders had remarked the damage wasn’t as bad as expected.
To get to the bottom of the controversy about the fires, I went to Maranello and met with our friends at Ferrari Classiche. “Chassis 0666? Of course we remember it. We called it ‘La Bastarda!’”
Was the chassis replaced after the Le Mans accident? “Definitely not. Only the upper part of the car was damaged. Look, it’s all here on the microfilm, everything….”
Lastly, I consulted a well-known Ferrari historian. How many 250 TRs does he think have their original bodywork? “Perhaps 60% but it’s hard to say, as for years nobody bothered to track such information.” Let’s face it, these bodies were cigarette-paper thin and intended to last a few race seasons — not decades.
And what, in his opinion, would the very best 250 TR be worth? “That would be one of the Le Mans winners. They almost never come up, so I’d have to say $25 million.”
A car for the ages
Did the new owner of 0666 TR get caught up in the Monterey euphoria and overpay, or was this a shrewd investment?
On the one hand, we have a unique factory prototype with a front-line international racing history. The majority of 250 TRs were customer cars destined for weekend outings around airfields serving as SCCA circuits. This one roared around Le Mans, the Targa Florio and the ’Ring — piloted by all-time heroes.
Conversely, it led a hard life as a race car and later as an old hack. The chassis number 0666 is prophetic, as it’s been to hell and back. Ultimately, though, it’s been cherished for the past 40 years, restored without regard to expense, and the Ferrari factory has given it their unquestioned blessing.
Auctions are a roll of the dice that not all sellers want to risk, but in this case the gamble paid off. Well sold today, well bought for posterity.
(Introductory description courtesy of Gooding & Company.)