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CARSPOTTING> Historic Ferrari 625/250 Testa Rossa

Bruce Meyer Ferrari 625 TR Concorso Ferrari Pasadena CA

Several weeks ago, I spotted this immaculate Ferrari 625/250 Testa Rossa sitting all by itself in the middle of Colorado Blvd while I was at the Concorso Ferrari show in Old Town Pasadena, CA.

With so many amazing Ferraris lining the street, I was really lucky to have met the owner (most of them were away from their vehicles) and talk to him a little bit about the car, while chief MotorMaven Antonio Alvendia shot photos. It wasn’t until I got home, however, that I discovered the rich history of this car and its owner – Bruce Meyer.

Bruce Meyer has been a renowned classic car collector for years and is widely known for his collection of cars – a collection which contains such prized pieces as Clark Gable’s Mercedes 300SC convertible, Steve McQueen’s Porsche 356, and even the classic Concours d’Elegance show-winning Duesenberg. He’s also the founding chairman of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, CA. These bullet points are all extremely impressive, but we can always revisit Mr Meyer’s background at another time – I want to talk about the gorgeous silver car in the photos!

Bruce Meyer Ferrari 625 TR Concorso Ferrari Pasadena CA

Let’s take a moment to really appreciate this 1957 Ferrari 625/250TR (Testa Rossa). It’s not very often that we get to see a living legend with our own eyes. What struck me the most about this car wasn’t even anything close to the horsepower nor the torque specs. No… what struck me most about this car was the almost palpable racing pedigree that it exudes – a pedigree the likes of which I’ve only read about in books or seen in classic racing movies.

This car was raced at a time when drivers wore only leather helmets for protection, seat belts were optional, and the chances of a driver surviving a crash were rated in the “wing and a prayer” category. Oh yeah – and this is just one of two cars made that happen to have been driven by such notable drivers as Richie Ginther, Phil Hill, Caroll Shelby, Ken Miles, Jack Nethercutt and John Von Neumann – just to name a few. You smell that? That, my friends, is the smell of rarefied air. Mmmmmm…

Bruce Meyer Ferrari 625 TR Concorso Ferrari Pasadena CA

It all started out with John Von Neumann, owner of one of the more important Porsche and Ferrari distributorships in the country – it doesn’t get much better than that in the 1950s. This gave Von Neumann the clout to ask Mr. Enzo Ferrari to build him two prime examples of the 625 Testa Rossa with the 2.5L, four cylinder Le Mans engines. Together, Von Neumann and Ginther entered the car into numerous races and, over the course of its competition life in America, it is believed to have won over 50 races and gathered countless historical motorsports and Concours d’Elegance awards.

Bruce Meyer Ferrari 625 TR Concorso Ferrari Pasadena CA

After its glorious motorsports career however, the car was sold and for the next decade it became a garage queen as it exchanged hands among some of the wealthiest men in Hollywood.

For a short while, the Testa Rossa found its home in the UK (London to be exact) while its owner was having it restored to its original splendor by a master Ferrari Specialist. Then it was purchased at Christie’s Auction House in Monaco for 1.1 million dollars by a gentleman named Charles Zwolsman of the Netherlands. The plot thickens – a short year later, Zwolsman was arrested along with 67 other people for drug smuggling charges. Dutch Mafia?! Who knew? It was a hard knock life for our 625 TR, which had then become ownerless.

The Dutch Government seized and liquidated Zwolsman’s entire car collection, putting our esteemed car on the market yet again. The Testa Rossa once again found itself on the auction block, where silver tongued auctioneers had little trouble extoling its virtues. This is how it found its way into the collection of its current owner, Bruce Meyer, who snapped the car up for a bargain price somewhere slightly south of a cool million. Somehow the word “baller” doesn’t even seem appropriate when we’re talking these figures.

Bruce Meyer Ferrari 625 TR Concorso Ferrari Pasadena CA

Isn’t this engine bay gorgeous? The whole car is amazing while maintaining a certain timeless classic appeal. Fun fact – in Italian, Testa Rossa means Red Head and this red painted valve cover pictured (above and below) is the reason behind the name.

Ferrari found the 250 TR to be a perfect subject to revive the latest derivative of Gioacchino Colombo‘s V12 engine. The top speed of the car depends on the right kind of gearing, as it was quite possible to get 170 mph out of it… even back in the 1950s. Amazing!

Bruce Meyer Ferrari 625 TR Concorso Ferrari Pasadena CA

Those trumpets absolutely sing when this motor is alive! This particular car, carrying the (0672) serial number – number one of the only two of these cars ever made, has been altered from its original state. As Ferrari purists might note, this is not the original engine – the smaller displacement 2.5L four cylinder Le Mans engine was replaced with a more powerful powerplant from the Ferrari 250 TR – 3L V12, producing 300 horsepower – beastly power for the time period!

While having the newer engine doesn’t have much effect on the value of the car, it does make it a more sought-after car among car collectors because of its sheer power and its ability to race competitively in historical race events.

Bruce Meyer Ferrari 625 TR Concorso Ferrari Pasadena CA

This old picture is what drew me to the historical aspects of this car, causing me to want to find out more about this fantastic picture and the car it was showcasing. I later found out (while talking to Bruce Meyer) that this is an old picture of John Von Neumann racing at Pomona Raceway in California.  Later that day, Von Neumann would take the checkered flag at this event.

Truly it’s the history that makes something like this car, which is already so great, even more inviting. I feel truly fortunate to have learned about the history of this car, as it makes telling this story even more enjoyable. For me, it has brought new meaning and a new understanding to the phrase timeless classic. I’d like to thank Bruce Meyer for bringing his beautiful Ferrari 625/250 TR out to the Concorso Ferrari. It was truly a pleasure meeting him and learning about this beautiful and historic automobile. Thank you, sir. The entire MotorMavens crew salutes you.

:: Tamer Omran

Bruce Meyer’s 1960 Chevrolet Corvette Le Mans Racer on MOTORMAVENS
Bruce Meyer’s Ferrari 625/250TR on exhibit at the Petersen Museum (Driving Line)

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16 Responses

  1. Wow! That V12 is so tidy. Did you get a video of it running/revving? That would have been tops! Thanks for showing us this beauty!
    “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!”

  2. D1RGE.EXE

    Could be one of the rarest vehicles in America. Great eye Antonio, this car is in the absolute stratosphere of historic vehicles. Thank you for the story :)

  3. Thanks D1RGE.EXE! But I didn’t write the story or provide any of the detailed info… that was all Tamer! All I did was snap photos when I saw it sitting there! Tamer did the rest of the work! =D

    @hechtspeed: naw man, unfortunately, I was unable to see/hear it run. I had to leave the Concorso Ferrari after being there only like 1.5 hours, because I had to leave for the Eibach Honda meet the same day!

    The problem for us (in LA at least) is there are way too many car events happening every single weekend, so it’s hard for us to cover them all! We need more contributors who can shoot well! (…as well as contributors who can write an English sentence with proper grammar and punctuation and spellling.)

  4. It’s funny to me that you guys have TOO MANY car shows out there. Out here there’s not enough!! I guess that’s kinda how it is for anybody living outside of LA tho. Well…at least…we get….snow!! Ha!

  5. Jover

    I think I need to move to LA so that you can cover all those events! huh, huh?! Love the “Red Head” pictured in this feature.

  6. Carfreak226

    Wow, I’d give anything just to see that thing in person. And I thought I had seen it all at the Concourse show last weekend lol.

  7. GroduceJunc

    I want to hear more about Charles Zwolsman – the Dutch Scarface! This car has checkered flags and a checkered past. LOL!

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  9. I’ve been fortunate enough to see this car at Supercar Sunday and at the Concorso Ferrari.

    I was absolutely amazed by it when I saw it the first time. Especially seeing as he drove it in. First you heard the distinctive scream of a classic Ferrari V12 coming. Then you saw a silver bullet hard on the brakes proceeding to screech around the corner and into the driveway of the mall Supercar Sunday is held at. Following not far behind was one of LAPD’s finest. Fortunately for Bruce and unfortunately for the police officer the car was quickly surrounded by a huge crowd. The officer just waited around a bit before giving up and just driving away.

    You really have to love Bruce Meyer for not only showing such a magnificent piece of history, but for not being afraid to drive it!

    P.S. he turned it on briefly at the Concorso Ferrari while I was there and proceeded to rev the engine up a couple of times. :-)

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