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						Tempero Testa Rossa44
Star Power

Ferrari Testa Rossa from The Art of Racing in the Rain

As told by Jack Wright

Photos by Steve Temple and courtesy of Jack Wright

I’ve been lucky enough in life to experience my own personal version of Ford v Ferrari. It’s not been quite like the movie, featuring GT40s at Le Mans, but I’ve had personal experiences with both the Shelby 289 Cobra and Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. Interestingly enough, the purchase of one actually led to the acquisition of the other, and later, my Testa Rossa was actually used in the major motion picture The Art of Racing in the Rain. More on that later, but first a little history

Like most car-crazed youths in the 1960s, I loved fast cars, especially high-horsepower sports cars, which led to my fascination with Shelby Cobras. Purely by chance, I got a job in the summer of 1966 at the Los Angeles International Airport fueling and oiling all the foreign airlines that flew out. The hangar that I worked in was located right next to the one that Carroll Shelby was using to build the Cobras and Mustang GT350s.

Also, the company that I worked for had the contract to fuel and oil Carroll Shelby’s DC-3, much to my delight. I would volunteer every time his plane needed servicing, and I’d walk up and down the assembly lines after I finished. There was one for the Cobras and one for the GT350, and I’d even talk to the mechanics (who were very friendly).

I had a different job during the summer of 1967, but I did go over to Shelby’s hanger at LAX (through the front door this time) with my father when Shelby was shutting down his operations there. It was during this visit that Shelby was trying to unload his last Daytona Cobra (one of only six built) for approximately $5,200! I tried to talk my father into loaning me $1,200, coupled with the sale of my car and the liquidation of my savings account, so I could buy it. He emphatically said, “No!” Who knew that car would be worth in the neighborhood of $10 million today?

The pontoon-fender Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa was another love affair that began in the mid-1960s. I only saw the car one time, but it was literally love at first sight. The stunningly cur vaceous and gorgeous automobile made such an impression that I still remember exactly where I saw it on Sunset Boulevard over 50 years ago. By the way, in 2014 an original 1957 250 Testa Rossa I Testa Rossa Reproduction Readers’ Rides The meticulous custom craftsmanship on the aluminum body is a sight to behold. allegedly sold for $39.8 million, so the chances of seeing one on the street today are slim to none.

Jumping ahead approximately 50 years, it was finally time to fish or cut bait. I came close to buying a 289 Cobra on two different occasions, but for one reason or another I didn’t (stupid me). Fortunately I have an understanding wife, who had a 1965 Pontiac Tri-Power GTO back in the day and completely understands my Cobra addiction.

In 2016 I set out again (this time in earnest due to my age) to track down an original 289 Cobra with the assistance of a good friend Larry Crossan, who has owned approximately 10 Shelby Cobras over the years. We found an original 1964 289 Cobra (CSX 2303) that was under consignment at Fantasy Junction, a broker of special interest and collector of classic cars in the San Francisco area.

While at Fantasy Junction to purchase the Cobra, Larry and I were both instantly drawn to the 1957/58 250 Testa Rossa Ferrari reproduction that was in the front of the showroom. This particular car was one of one hand-built by Rod Tempero Motor Body Builder, located on the South Island of New Zealand. It has a handcrafted aluminum body made from a blackboard drawing and formed with wooden bucks, an English wheel and plenty of panel beating. Power comes from a 4.0-liter, 12-cylinder Ferrari 330 GT engine, backed by a modern five-speed transmission with a Ferrari gated shifter.

Rod says the car was built during his father Errol’s time in 1999 for a client of Ash Marshall, who supplied the engine. They built the chassis around the engine and modified it with a custom manifold for the six Weber carburetors and red valve covers (the namesake for the Testa Rossa). Dyno testing conf irmed an output of 298 horsepower at 6,500 rpm, and 274 lb-ft of torque.

While inspecting the engine, Larry — who has owned multiple 12-cylinder Ferraris — realized that it had recently been refurbished by Patrick Ottis. Since Ottis is one of the prominent Ferrari engine restorers in the world, Larry immediately gave his blessing.

Rod has a reputation for craftsmanship when it comes to building re-creations of Jaguar C- and D-Type race cars. This car is meant to closely emulate No. 0710TR, perhaps the most widely exercised Testa Rossa in the U.S. from that era, and the only example to have been fitted with a detachable front nosepiece. A look under the car reveals the extensively triangulated chassis, which is both more rigid and responsive than an original. This setup features a competition-type coilover suspension, as well as four-wheel disc brakes.

I was simply mesmerized by the lines of the car, from the pontoon fenders up front to the trumpet exhausts in the rear. Additional details like the hood scoop, gas filler cap and knockoff Borrani wire wheels sealed the deal. I showed a picture of the 250 Testa Rossa to my wife, Gale, as well as a 1957 Porsche Speedster S that I was considering and asked her which one I should buy. Without any hesitation, she pointed to the Testa Rossa, and I always do what my wife says (I hope she doesn’t read this article!). I returned to Fantasy Junction about a week later to purchase the Testa Rossa re-creation, which has turned out to be one of the best car decisions I have ever made.

One year later, I received a telephone call from Spencer Trenery, co-owner of Fantasy Junction, who wanted to know if I would be willing to speak with a friend and fellow race driver named Jeff Zwart. He was interested in using the 250 Testa Rossa for a movie called The Art of Racing in the Rain, based on a New York Times bestselling book written by Garth Stein. I soon learned that the film is primarily about life’s trials and tribulations through the eyes of man’s best friend, with a backdrop of auto racing. The script called for an iconic Ferrari to play a role. A well- known movie producer/director specializing in car scenes, Jeff flew into Sacramento to look at the car, and he had a friend bring a dog to my house to see if it would be a good fit.

After Jeff inspected it thoroughly and took pictures of me and the dog in the car, Testa Rossa Reproduction Readers’ Rides Wire mesh screens over the venturis keep debris out of the Webers when driving on the street, but they are uncovered for race duty. he determined that the 250 Testa Rossa perfectly fit his vision for the scene. We then discussed protecting the car with its somewhat fragile alloy body. Jeff, being a car collector himself, indicated that 20th Century Fox would fully insure the car, and it would be shipped in its own enclosed transporter. He would also arrange for a “car handler,” his friend Derek Boycks, to be with the car every time it moved or was being filmed.

Derek is a master mechanic and looks after several large private car collections in the Los Angeles area. He flew up and inspected the car prior to finalizing the agreement and transporting the car to Vancouver, British Columbia. I had even more faith in the arrangement when I realized Derek and I had already met two months earlier at the 2018 Copperstate 1000 Road Rally in Arizona — an event I ran in my 289 Cobra.

The movie production company had the Testa Rossa for the entire month of July 2018, and they took great care of the car. It was returned to me without a scratch and was even freshly detailed. The white roundels and #39 were placed on the car for the movie, and I chose to leave them to preserve the car’s film connection.

Getting back to my Ford v Ferrari ownership, I find it interesting how people react quite differently to the two cars. Even though the ’64 Cobra is an original, everyone thinks that it’s a replica, so they pretty much leave me alone. On the other hand, the 250 Testa Rossa is a reproduction, and everyone thinks that it’s an original! It’s a real circus to drive, with people hanging out of their cars with cellphone cameras and pulling up next to me to ask about the car. Overall, my Cobra and Testa Rossa are like having two children — I absolutely love them both and could never choose a favorite.

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