Racy Ferrari 250s, when Ferrari was dominant …
Part of the fun of any die-cast or model car collection is in comparing the differences of similar cars made a couple years apart.
So when American-Excellence sent us the Le Mans-winning Ferraris from 1958 and 1960, both made by Ixo, the fun began. These are from the classic sports car era when road cars were lightly modified to race and when drivers like America’s Phil Hill were braving it with little more than an open-face helmet and racing gloves for protection.
The two 1/43 scale red racers are the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, No. 14, that Hill and Olivier Gendebien drove to a Le Mans victory in 1958 and the similar TR60, No. 11, that Gendebien and Paul Frere won with at Le Mans in 1960.
Phil Hill was America’s primo sports car racer in the late 1950s into the 1960s and the first U.S. driver to win the F1 World Championship, which he did with Ferrari in 1961. He and Belgian Gendebien frequently teamed up for endurance races and both were highly successful, witness Gendebien’s second Le Mans win in 1960 with Frere, another Belgian racer.
Hill would win Le Mans again in 1961 and 1962 with Gendebien as Ferrari was a dominant entrant at Le Mans. It posted overall wins from 1958 through 1965, with the exception of 1959 when Aston Martin won.
The 250 Testa Rossa 258 was introduced in 1957 as regulations changed in favor of 3.0-liter engines. From 1958 to 1962 the Ferraris were nearly unbeatable. Ultimately they won 10 World Sports Car Championship races, including Le Mans and the Sebring 12 Hours, Targa Florio and more.
Testa Rossa, by the way, means Red Head in Italian and it’s said the nickname sprang from the car’s use of red valve covers. Just 34 were made and one sold at auction a few years ago for $16.4 million. Lucky the Ixo models are more economical. The original racers also packed a mighty Ferrari punch with a 3.0-liter V12 creating 300+ horsepower under their long hoods.
The TR (Testa Rossa) 260 in 1960 was an updated version of the original winner, but regulations gave it a larger windscreen and bigger trunk space, including a spare tire. The winning Ferrari had right-hand drive, while the 1958 winner was a left-hand drive model.
A quick look and you’d think the cars are the same, just sporting different numbers, and the driver’s seat on the opposite side.
But the nicely detailed 1/43 models really are quite different. The 1958 car has a solid hood scoop or vent with the opening facing the driver. The windscreen is lower and has a second screen just in front of the driver. Seats are tan and there’s a black tonneau cover over the right-side seat. The dash looks more like a road car’s with several gauges and the transmission hump is wider than in the later model, and features a black ball shifter.
With the driver being on the left, the headrest fin is on the left in the 1958 car, while on the right in the 1960 model, which includes a padded blue headrest to match the 1960 racer’s blue bucket seats.
In back, the 1958 Ferrari has red taillights on its bulging round fenders and quad tailpipes under the car. The 1960 model has impressive dual side pipes on each side, tiny red taillights down low in back, and chrome vents on each side, one near the tail, the other just in front of the door. The hood scoop also is clear on the 1960 Ferrari so you see the chromed engine headers through the hood.
Both cars have black numbers on white roundels and the Ferrari crest on each side of the car, and tiny ones on the nose. Tires are unbranded and the chrome wire wheels are nicely executed.
Two more winners from Ixo!
Vital Stats: 1958, 1960 Ferrari 250 TR and TR60
Stock No.: IXOLM1958 and IXOLM1960