In the 1950s, Maserati and Ferrari battled it out for supremacy in the Sport category, for cars with an engine capacity of 2 litres or less. It was a fierce battle that was won by the Maserati A6 GCS between 1954 and 1955.

To counter its rivals, Maranello decided to develop an heir to the 500 Mondial, the 500 Testarossa.

The four-cylinder Testarossa

Enzo Ferrari first asked Vittorio Jano to radically transform the racing car, updating the Mondial's design in every respect. He began with the in-line four-cylinder engine designed by Aurelio Lampredi, which was revised in many details, including its aesthetics.

Prototype Ferrari 500 Testarossa (1956)

Prototype Ferrari 500 Testarossa (1956)

The heads of the new engine were painted red, inspiring the car's name. The four-cylinder engine delivers 180 PS at 7,000 rpm, a top speed of 152 mph and a total weight of 680 kg.

Scaglietti also collaborated on the project, working on a more streamlined and even more aerodynamic body.

From workshop to track

The Ferrari prototype you see in the photos was the first step towards the real car that competed in the World Sports Car Championship between 1956 and 1957. The Ferrari was entrusted to various private teams and, alongside the already existing 750 and 850 Monza and the 290 MM, the Prancing Horse managed to win the Italian championship thanks to drivers Franco Cortese and Gino Munaron.

Prototype Ferrari 500 Testarossa (1956)

Prototype Ferrari 500 Testarossa (1956)

Munaron also managed to finish eighth overall (first in his class) at the 1957 Mille Miglia.

In all, only 19 examples of the 500 Testarossa were produced. The few remaining examples are invaluable to many collectors around the world.

Gallery: Ferrari 500 Testarossa Prototype (1956)