Wondering around the pits at Silverstone during an HGPCA test day a couple of months ago I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of cars just waiting for their stories to be told, one such was today’s featured Ferrari which was built in 1952 as a 4 cylinder 2 litre / 122 cui Ferrari 500 chassis #3 for the Formula 2 season which was also designated as the World Drivers Championship Formula.
This car is said to have raced alongside the sister chassis #005 raced by Alberto Ascari to two consecutive World Drivers Championships, though I have yet to discover who drove it or the results it achieved.
In 1954 new Formula One regulations were adopted for the World Drivers Championship mandating 2.5 litre / 152 cui motors and when Ferrari ran into problems with it’s intended ‘Squalo’ 553 challenger they converted some of the old Formula 2 cars to “625” specification with larger 2.5 litre / 152 cui 4 cylinder motor. This particular car then became a 625 with the chassis number 2.
With no progress on the Squalo and later 555 Super Squalo designs Ferrari updated this car further to 625A spec for the start of the 1955 season with a more aerodynamic tail, the chassis was lengthened by just under two inches, the additional length being inserted by cutting the chassis just ahead of the cockpit and the suspension was revised with coil springs replacing the transverse leaf spring at the front.
The cars first race of the 1955 World Drivers Championship season was in Argentina, which lent it’s initial to the 625 designation. Two 625A’s were entered and they finished second and third behind reigning champion Juan Manuel Fangio’s Mercedes Benz. Unusually the two 625A’s were each driven by three drivers coming in second were Gonzalez, Farina and Trintignant and third were Maglioli who shared with Trintignant and Farina !
The next race was at Monaco where Maurice Trintignant qualified today’s featured car 9th behind a pair of Mercedes Benz cars, three Lancia D50’s and three Maserati’s. During the race Trintignant, for whom everything outside racing was ‘just waiting’, guided his car to an unlikely victory as those ahead retired with mechanical issues while the Lancia driven by Ascari famously fell into the water which he survived only to be killed four days later testing a Ferrari sports car at Monza.
The 1955 Monaco victory was the first World Drivers Championship event to be won by a Frenchman since it’s inception in 1950, the first to be one on Englebert Tyres and Ferrari’s only victory in the 1955 Championship season. At the end of the year the car was fitted with a 4 cylinder 3 litre / 183 cui Ferrari 750 sportscar motor and sold to British wool merchant and amateur racer Peter Whitehead, with Peters old customer chassis number #0482 to compete in the unrestricted Formula Libre races being held in New Zealand in 1956. Peter won both the Lady Wigram Trophy and the Southland Road Race, note some sources incorrectly point to this car being driven by Peter Whitehead to two victories in New Zealand in 1957, by then he was actually drove and won both races with in a Ferrari Super Squallo 555 fitted with an 3.4 litre 860 Monza sports car motor.
Late in 1956 Froilan Gonzales bought the car and took it to Argentina where it appears to have remained until it resurfaced in the United States in the 1990’s. Current owner Alexander Boswell bought the car in 1999 and found the three chassis numbers which confirmed the cars identity and history welded one atop the other.
Mr Boswell had the car restored to the same 3 litre / 183 cui 625A/750 #0482 specification as it was when supplied to Peter Whitehead by Ferrari for his New Zealand adventure.
Thanks for joining me for this “Just Waiting” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !