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FERRARI TRC—THE ORIGINAL RED HEAD

“ ‘SUITABLY IMPRESSED’ SEEMS HARDLY an adequate expression,” R&T wrote in December 1957, “to describe our crew’s thoughts after testing the newest Ferrari, the 2.5-liter TRC (Testa Rossa Competition).” Here are tidbits on this Italian Red Head. 

This and following images from R&T, December 1957.

“ ‘Absolutely sensational,’ ” R&T wrote, “would be more apt, for here is a car which performs so well that it makes the fabulous 3.5-liter D-type Jaguar look out of date.”  

Briefly:

R&T observes that since these cars often compete together, though in different classes, it is interesting to note that this particular Ferrari, in eight events, has been beaten by a D-Jag only once.

A “Cheaper” Ferrari. R&T says, “The TRC was developed as a ‘cheaper’ competition model Ferrari, so the gearbox is bolted directly to the flywheel housing instead of being part of the differential assembly, as on the Monzas. The rear end itself has a conventional solid axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs.”

R&T amplifies, “These simplifications have two important advantages. First, by careful attention to detail considerable weight is saved, and secondly, the high roll center at the rear coupled with a very stiff independent front suspension gives excellent handling qualities on the slower type of road circuits so prevalent in the U.S.A.”

“Cheaper,” of course, is a relative term. The TRC’s $12,000 was a fair piece of change in 1957, equivalent to around $127,500 in today’s dollar.

Getting Off The Line. “This clutch,” R&T reported, “will take an enormous amount of abuse on the course, but it certainly was not designed for smooth, easy starts…. The proper technique is to hold about 2000 rpm and literally drop the clutch into engagement. If the engine doesn’t stall, you are off with a good chirp from the tires and a few jerks and bumbles from the engine. Once off the mark, the best possible acceleration is dependent on just the right amount of throttle, to avoid excess wheel spin.”

A proper racing cockpit.

From Gear to Gear. R&T reported, “The shift is easy because the TRC gearbox was the first Ferrari unit to use the Porsche servo-ring synchronizers. Even in 2nd, it is necessary to put your foot down gradually to avoid wheel spin.”

The TRC’s “trunk” is occupied by a 37-gal. fuel tank and spare tire.

Top Speed. “As for top speed,” R&T admitted, “a timed run was not made for the simple reason that the car, as tested, is geared for short courses. The TRC can be ordered with axle ratios of 3.78, 3.87, 4.00, 4.25, or 4.57.” 

The test car’s 4.25:1 ratio gave 6600 rpm in 4th gear a speed of 135 mph. “An almost identical car,” R&T recounted, “one of three which ran at Le Mans in 1956, was clocked at 144.8 mph on the Mulsanne straight, with Phil Hill driving.” 

The TRC’s four-cylinder dohc engine produced 220 hp at 6500 rpm. Curiously, these particular cam covers do not appear to be red. On the other hand, the bodywork was likely red as well. (R&T was almost entirely b/w in those days.)

Red Head Not F1. The magazine describes, “The original Testa Rossa (Red Head) models were 2-liter cars, but the bored and stroked 2.5-liter version is available as an option. This larger engine is sometimes referred to as being virtually the company’s Formula I powerplant, but this is not true—no parts of the TR engine are interchangeable with the GP unit.” 

Summing Up. “As we said at the beginning of this report,” R&T concluded, “‘suitably impressed’ hardly covers the situation. The Ferrari TRC-2500 is without a doubt the most sensationally performing sports car we have ever tested—and we have tested more sports cars than any one person or organization that we know of.” 

Let’s observe that several of today’s SUVs reach 60 mph in less than the TRC’s 5.8 seconds; some BEVs exploit their motors’ instant torque in taking less than 3. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2023

One comment on “FERRARI TRC—THE ORIGINAL RED HEAD

  1. Bob Storck
    April 25, 2023

    This car, more than any other, developed my love for sports cars.
    Just into my teens in Pacific Beach, Mom had touted my math skills to our dentist, who invited me to be his navigator on local rallys.
    That led to going with him to sports car races at places like Torrey Pines, Palm Springs and Ramona. Those pontoon fendered with egg crate snout Testa Rossas’ sleek styling were quite a contrast to the tubby Porsches, boxy MGs and cobbled specials that abounded.
    I must have cobbled a dozen of the small scale models … about 5″ long, melting plastic bits to reshape body and snout, finally deciding you couldn’t improve on elegance.
    I almost felt that it was an abomination for Ferrari to reuse the noble name in their ’80s gaudy ‘Miami Vice’ abomination.

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