Total Production: 16 1956 - 1956
Gioacchino Colombo had designed Ferrari's 2-liter V12 engine which had powered its cars to a championship in the Formula 2 class in 1949. The engines were large and powerful with plenty of potential for further improvements throughout the years. Some of Ferrari's competition went a different route; they used smaller, lightweight, four-cylinder engines which were more fuel efficient. They could be run longer on the same amount of fuel as the twelve-cylinder unit, and their compact size meant they could be sit lower to the ground and power smaller vehicles. Enzo realized this potential and commissioned their new chief engineer, Aurelio Lampredi, to design a four-cylinder engine to replace the Colombo V12. The project was given a high priority when the sports governing body made the decision to run the World Championship under Formula 2 regulations.
Lampredi created 2- and 2.5-liter versions, both formed from light alloy and featuring double camshaft heads. The engines were very similar and shared many of the same parts. The 2-liter version was ready by 1952 and was used in F2 competition. In the capable hands of Alberto Ascari, it brought Ferrari another World Championship after winning six of the seven championship races. The following year, another World Championship was earned by Ferrari.
The engine was not solely reserved for Ferrari's racing program. It was used to power their sportscars, much to the enthusiasm of their customers.
A 3-liter version, dubbed the 750 Monza, made its debut at the Gran Premio Supercortemaggiore at Monza. It was driven by Gonzales and Trintignant to a victory at its inaugural race. Near the close of 1953, a two-liter race car in prototype form was raced. The engine was put in a 250 MM chassis and driven by Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi to a class victory. In honor of Ferrari's second World Championship in as many years, the car was named the 500 Mondial. The 500 Mondial would later capture victories at the 1954 Mille Miglia and the 12-Hours of Sebring in 1956. Both the 2- and 3-liter versions were extensively campaigned by the Works Team and by privateers.
The continued success meant continued development. Ferrari's new chief engineer Vittorio Jano was tasked with creating a new 2-liter engine that could outpace the dominate Maseratis. The Lampredi four-cylinder unit was used as a starting point, and given new red cylinder heads. Red head in Italian is Testa Rossa (TR), which would later become the name of the vehicle - 500 TR. The two-liter engine had two valves per cylinder and dual overhead cams. With the help of two Weber carburetors, the engine was capable of producing 180 horsepower. A Ferrari four-speed manual gearbox sent that power to the rear wheels and carried the 1500 pound vehicles with bodies created by Scaglietti. Their debut race was at the 1956 Monza Supercortemaggiore where Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorne were about to outpace the powerful Maserati's and secure a victory. Updates were made to the vehicle throughout the year, as Appendix C rule changes for sports cars meant they had to be outfitted with full-length windscreens, an externally mounted fuel tank, and a passenger door. These updates to the vehicle brought about the 500 TRC.
Further development of the engine brought about the 2.5-liter version which was prepared in time for LeMans. Dubbed the 625 LM, they were given bodies created by Touring.
In total, there were 19 examples of the 500 TRCs created. After this exercise, Ferrari would revert back to the V12 powerplants. The 'TR' nameplate was responsible for achieving victories at LeMans on four occasions among numerous other racing successes by the factory and privateers. The name TR would again grace a Ferrari vehicle in the 1980s, this time on a road-going GT car.By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2007