Sold for $6,511,207 (€5,040,000) at 2012 RM Auctions at Monaco.
For all of the profound and flowery expressions and descriptions ever given in automotive design, quality and performance the phrase 'rare beauty' is perhaps used rather flippantly causing the true depth and meaning of the phrase to be cheapened. However, perhaps only the 1957 Ferrari 625 TRC Spider would be able to give the full meaning of the phrase its true and intended value.
The car has everything. The car currently has a V12 engine that still gives it that distinctive Testa Rossa sound that any purist would be able to immediately recognize and it has the elegant body-styling that made the 500 TRC considered 'one of the prettiest Ferraris built'. However, it has one important difference that causes this particular model to be listed in a class all its own. The difference would be the fact the 625 TRC had been produced and came with a 2.5-liter version of the inline 4-cylinder engine compared to the 2.0-liter used in the more well known 500 TRC. As a result, the 'rare' definition would certainly be applicable as only two 625 TRCs would ever be produced. And one of those two would be up for auction at RM Auctions' event at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco in May of 2012.
In December of 1957, Road & Track would conduct a test drive of the Ferrari 625. And in conclusion, the West Coast Ferrari distributor Johnny von Neumann and driver Richie Ginther would be quoted declaring, 'it is the best handling and the easiest of all Ferraris to drive in a race.'
Of course, it would be most interesting to hear von Neumann and Ginther's responses today with the car in its current condition. In 1981, the car would be purchased by its current owner from Bob Taylor. The following year, the owner would commission a restoration to be done. For the next year or so the car would be restored by Phil Reilly in Corte Madera, California. At that time, a Ferrari V12 engine would be fitted inside the chassis and it would be finished in a familiar red. The project would then be completed with a full-width windscreen that would have suited the C-section regulations for Le Mans in 1957.
Now boasting of a 3.0-liter V12 engine producing 320 bhp, the 625 TRC Spider truly entered a world of performance it never even imagined when it was first produced back in 1957. Combined with one of the most elegant sportscars ever designed and produced, the V12 engine would put this truly rare and world class sports car through its paces in more than 100 historic races. Of course, that is exactly where the car feels most comfortable.
At time and an in era where the elite sports cars could have been seen driving away from a circuit it is certainly clear the Ferrari 625 TRC had been developed for the race track. During the middle part of the 1950s, regulations governing Le Mans and sports car racing on a whole would try its best to move away from prototypes and get back to production car roots. Such things as windscreens that stretched the entire distance across the width of the cockpit would be just one of the regulations introduced. However, what Scaglietti would manage to create when it fashioned the Ferrari 500 TRC would be nothing short of perfection as it would seamlessly blend the beautiful aerodynamic curves of a serious racer with the regulations introduced and meant to draw back toward the dull and commonplace.
The 625 TRC would take what was already great and would make it even better. The 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine Tipo 131 engine would be replaced with a 2.5-liter version making twenty more horses. This would give the already gorgeous and nimble chassis a little extra power that would place it in a level all its own.
At every angle, the 625 TRC just works. And despite being rare and exquisite, it would do just that—work. After production, 0680MDTR would take part in a couple of races in Europe. The first would be in Salzburg, Austria where it would take part in the Gaisberg hill climb. In its very first competitive outing the car would go on to win its class.
After victory in Austria, it was off to Switzerland and the Grosser Bergpreis der Schweiz. This hill climb would take place in the central part of Switzerland but would seem to be the car's backyard after it would go on to dominate the competition that would include Maseratis, Porsches and other Ferraris. The agile Ferrari would fly up the mountain leaving the others gasping for air.
Proving itself in the mountains, the car would head to the coast, but the coast would be thousands of miles away in California. The famed John von Neumann had been born into an Austrian family and would move to the United States right about the time the Second World War broke out in Europe. Von Neumann would serve in the military during the war but would turn to motor racing afterward. In addition to pursuing his racing career, von Neumann would also become a widely successful car dealer importing on the very best. Upon taking victories in its first two races, and of course the sheer looks and rarity of the 625 TRC itself, the car would quickly come up on von Neumann's radar.
Von Neumann would set things in motion to have 0680MDTR shipped to California, but it wouldn't be making the trip alone. The only other 625 TRC to have been produced, 0672MDTR, would also be making the trip.
Upon making its arrival in California, 0680MDTR would immediately go through some revisions. The Appendix C regulations were not in place in the United States at the time. Therefore, the car would lose its full-length windscreen and would be instead fitted with a single wraparound windscreen and a metal tonneau cover. Piloted by von Neumann, the car would make its first appearance in a race on American soil. The race would be held at the new Laguna Seca circuit. In the end, von Neumann would earn a very strong 2nd place result.
Throughout the remainder of 1957, and into 1958, the car would take part in nine more races where it would score two victories and three podiums. But perhaps one of the most special moments in this car's history, and that of grand prix history, would come on the 15th of June in 1958 when a young Richie Ginther, who had yet to start his Formula One career, would take the car and compete once again at Laguna Seca. In that race, the gorgeous Ferrari 625 TRC would showcase the talents of the young driver superbly as he would go on to take the victory. Von Neumann's daughter, Josie von Neumann would even have a turn behind the wheel of the car during the 1958 season.
In spite of continued success, the career of 0680MDTR would be hindered by its owner's personal problems. Unfortunately, the troubles would lead to von Neumann selling his dealership and the Ferrari 625 TRC heading out the door to Stan Sugarman of Phoenix, Arizona.
When the Ferrari was sold to Stan Sugarman toward the end of 1959 it was sold without its engine. Therefore, while under the ownership of Sugarman, the Ferrari would have a Chevrolet V8 and a Borg-Warner four-speed gearbox installed in it. In this state, the car would continue to take part in motor races all up and down the Californian coast and would continue to be successful, even without its soul mate.
In 1969, the Ferrari would begin a period where it would go through a succession of owners. Then, in 1981, 0680MDTR would be purchased again. At the time of the sale, the 625 was in the possession of Bob Taylor. And while all of the pieces of the car were present it was not in a shape befitting such an iconic and legendary reputation. Therefore, its new owner, the very same one it would have for the next thirty years, would commission David McCarthy at Phil Reilly's in Corte Madera, California to do the restoration.
One of the first things to be done would be to find and fit an engine into the chassis that was fitting of the car's reputation and that could actually add a little something of its own to the overall quality of the car. Therefore, McCarthy would squeeze a Testa Rossa-spec Ferrari V12 into the sleek, low-profiled nose of the car. This would not be all that easy with six Weber twin-choke carburetors. Therefore, a ram air scoop would be neatly designed into the engine bonnet to provide the large amounts of air the engine would need. And while this would be a departure from the original twin-bulges, the sound from the V12, and the look of the air scoop within the design of the car's nose seems to mold together beautifully.
But more would be done to bring this exceedingly rare Ferrari to its former level of performance and elegance. When it originally left the factory and started its racing career in hill climbs in Austria and Switzerland the car had an uninspiring grey livery that was more reminiscent of the Silver Arrows from Mercedes-Benz than the passion and the rawness of Italy. However, when it was restored, the Italian racing heritage would be restored with it as it would be finished in the familiar Italian racing red. But while the finish would be a departure from the original, those at Phil Reilly would do their best to bring the car back to period correctness. That would involve making the car conform to the Appendix C regulations and reinstalling a full-width windscreen.
It would be an exciting day at Pebble Beach in 1985. With none other than the great Jackie Stewart making the introduction, 0680MDTR would make its first official introduction before the crowd in its new red livery and powered by the V12 engine. The reaction from the crowd hearing the engine sounds and gazing upon the absolutely beautiful lines of the car would be all the confirmation one would need that the car was truly something special. The applause would be well deserved.
Later on that year, the car would make a return trip to the place where it all started for the car. The Ferrari 625 TRC would enter the Monterey Historic Automobile Races held at the famed Laguna Seca circuit. So once again, the Ferrari 625 TRC and Laguna Seca would be together. Fittingly, the owner has brought the car back to the circuit each and every year (except for just two years) since to take part in the Historic Automobile Races. Not surprisingly, the Ferrari continues to finish higher than many other Ferraris and other cars within its class.
This level of performance has been maintained by its continual rebuilding and refitting of its components. Professionally maintained, the car remains in its rare class helped along by a complete engine rebuild and fitting of new cylinder heads by Patrick Ottis in 2011 leading up to the Monterey Historic Races. In addition to the engine, the car underwent having its brakes serviced and having its hydraulic systems entirely rebuilt. And while the overall design and look of the car has the ability to turn heads all by itself, the continual tuning, rebuilding and refitting provides the means for gaining attention.
As if the looks and the sound of this incredible piece of art aren't enough, the truly remarkable story doesn't end there. The depth of value of this particular car as it heads to the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco only gets deeper. The reason for that is rather simple.
For more than fifty years, Ferrari 0680MDTR had been separated from its true soul mate. But they would be reunited. The original, matching numbered 2.5-liter racing engine would be found. True to form, the engine itself would have an interesting life including being owned by Luigi Chinetti and then Pete Lovely. The time the engine would spend with Lovely would be a truly interesting one. Realizing the heart of the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, Lovely would decide to place it inside one of his Cooper Formula One cars. After this interlude with Chinetti and Lovely, the engine would live a rather quite life, and still does, but it is now reunited with its original partner offering the car's potential buyer and intriguing, and difficult decision.
For nearly thirty years the Ferrari 625 TRC has roared in more than 100 historic races with its V12 engine providing the soundtrack. But now, with its original engine back in the picture, an important decision is brought to the fore. The purist and the most integrous would decide to make the reunion complete. But it has found another partner, perhaps believing its former flame had been lost forever. Still, it matters little really given that either choice makes for one incredible and evocative marriage of rare beauty.
This exceedingly rare and beauteous Ferrari 625 TRC was estimated to garner between 3,000,000 and 3,700,000 EUR at auction.Sources:
'Lot No. 345 1957 Ferrari 625 TRC Spider', (http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=MC12&CarID=r310). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=MC12&CarID=r310. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
'Ferrari 500 TRC', (http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/861/Ferrari-500-TRC.html). Ultimatecarpage.com: Powered by Knowledge, Driven by Passion. http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/861/Ferrari-500-TRC.html. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
'Ferrari 500 TRC-Coachwork by Carrozzeria Scaglietti', (http://www.scribd.com/doc/37149116/4/Ferrari-500-TRC-Coachwork-by-CarrozzeriaScaglietti). Scribd.com. http://www.scribd.com/doc/37149116/4/Ferrari-500-TRC-Coachwork-by-CarrozzeriaScaglietti. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
'Ferraris Headline RM Auctions Monaco 2012', (http://www.sportscardigest.com/ferraris-headline-rm-auctions-monaco-2012/). SportsCarDigest: The Sports, Racing and Vintage Car Journal. http://www.sportscardigest.com/ferraris-headline-rm-auctions-monaco-2012/. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
Collins, Peter. 'Red Head: Ferrari 625 TRC', Auto Italia. June 2012. Retrieved 11 May 2012.By Jeremy McMullen