Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa – Car Profile Page Three
A wealthy California entrepreneur, Bev Spencer was brought up in the car business and ran Spencer Buick, his family’s San Francisco showroom. After attending the early Pebble Beach races, he was bitten by the European sports car bug and, in 1955, purchased a 300 SL Gullwing. Shortly after, he began moving through a succession of road Ferraris: 166 MM, 212, 340 America, 410 Superamerica, California Spider and so on.
Possibly the greatest automotive influence on Spencer during that time was his friendship with fellow Californian Phil Hill, whose legendary drives for Ferrari, especially during the golden three-liter era, inspired Spencer to purchase a competition car.
In May 1962, Spencer traveled a short distance to Rod Carveth Enterprises and purchased the venerable Testa Rossa, still finished in its light blue racing livery accented by various racing stickers.
The competition Ferrari was then driven home along Highway 101 with Spencer at the wheel, dressed in his typically conservative business suit. According to a lovely retrospective written by Spencer’s son Roy, when the raucous Testa Rossa arrived at the Spencer home, “there were rides for the seven children and apologies to the neighbors.”
Registered on yellow California plates, the beautifully finished ex-works Testa Rossa became Spencer’s personal street car, a perfect complement to his other Ferrari, a LWB California Spider. On Sunday morning outings, he would peer into the garage and be struck by the rather tricky question of which car to drive.
In 1963, Spencer became an official Ferrari franchise and renamed the family dealership Spencer Buick-Ferrari – an amusing combination, to say the least. In May of that year, Steve Earle of Santa Barbara advertised 0666 TR for sale in Road & Track, right around the time that Spencer took delivery of his new 250 GTO.
The last known race for the Testa Rossa was in May 1964 at an SCCA event at Santa Barbara. This anticlimactic outing marked the end of a sensational eight-year racing career that saw the Testa Rossa go from a factory-team car competing at the world’s great venues, to a private entrant in regional SCCA races, battling much newer cars on the makeshift tracks of Central California.
After the original engine finally gave out, it was removed from the car and traded to Pete Lovely with a package of Lotus racing spares, leaving the Testa Rossa to sit quietly in a California garage. When its then-owner believed the aging Ferrari was worth more in cash than as a car, he doused the interior in gasoline and set it on fire. While it was enough to collect the insurance money, the result was little more than a superficial burn. Photos taken shortly after illustrate the original aluminum coachwork intact, albeit in need of some restoration.
On September 27, 1970, Charles Betz and Fred Peters purchased the Testa Rossa from Pete Civati of Los Angeles. As the leading Ferrari experts on the West Coast, Betz and Peters were keenly aware of the car’s significant past. Over the next decade, 0666 TR was meticulously restored to a show-quality standard using an appropriate engine from 0724 TR.
By the late 1980s, the restoration was complete and 0666 TR began collecting significant concours awards. Between 1988 and 2002, the Testa Rossa earned First in Class honors at Pebble Beach, Santa Barbara and Newport Beach. At the 1994 International Ferrari Concours d’Elegance and FCA annual meet, it took Best in Class and People’s Choice. As recently as 2001, 0666 TR achieved Platinum level in FCA judging and was presented the Phil Hill Award for outstanding service to road racing.
In 2002, after three decades with the Testa Rossa, Betz and Peters sold it to the current caretaker, a preeminent collector with a passion for Italian automobiles.
After several seasons of vintage racing, the owner commissioned Dennison International to complete a restoration that would bring 0666 TR back to its original team car appearance and specification. Instrumental to this project was a significant acquisition: the original, matching-numbers engine and a correct rear differential.
Between February 2005 and July 2006, 0666 TR was returned to its former splendor, with great care taken to ensure authenticity and exemplary attention to detail in every respect. Regarded by many as the finest Ferrari specialists in the US, the skilled team of Dennison International was given free reign throughout the process to prepare the Testa Rossa for further concours and vintage racing competition.
In its freshly restored form, the prototype 250 TR made its debut in August 2006 at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Having impressed the judges with its historical significance and remarkable originality, 0666 TR earned a prestigious First in Class, a deserving honor for this legendary car.
In preparation for the Cavallino Classic in January 2007, the Ferrari was refinished in its 1958 NART Le Mans livery, complete with the patriotic center stripe and large roundels. In this ensemble, the Testa Rossa caused quite a stir and took home an FCA Platinum Award as well as the coveted TR Cup.
This remarkable streak continued onto the 2007 Ferrari Club of America Annual Meet in Corning, New York, where the Testa Rossa received the Coppa Bella Macchina award, the Coppa GT award and its second Phil Hill Award. These are the most impressive achievements in FCA competition. Last shown at the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours in August 2009, this sensational Ferrari received both a First in Class award and Best in Show honors.