Ferrari 500

Ferrari 500 image

Active: 1952 - 1957
Team: Scuderia Ferrari SpA


Engine: Front-mounted, in-line 4, light alloy cylinder block and head, screw-fitted cylinder liners and hemispherical combustion chambers, water cooled
Bore & Stroke: 90 x 78 mm
Unitary and Total Displacement: 496.21/1,984.85 cc
Compression Ratio: 13:1
Max. Power Output: 185 bhp at 7,500 rpm
Timing Gear: Twin overhead camshafts, 2 valves per cylinder with tappets and rollers, cylindrical gear drive
Fuel Feed: Naturally aspirated engine. 2 Weber 50DCO twin-choke carburettors or 4 Weber 45 DOE carburettors
Ignition: Twin-plug with two Marelli magnetos
Lubrication System: Dry sump
Transmission: Rear-wheel drive, multi-plate clutch, 4-speed gearbox + reverse
Reduction: From engine to gearbox
Gear Ratios: Variable depending on circuit
Chassis: Tubular side members and cross members
Front Suspension: Independent, double wishbones, transverse lower leaf spring
Rear Suspension: De Dion axle, transverse leaf spring
Brakes: Hydraulic drums all round
Wheelbase and Front/ Rear Track: 2,160/1,270/1,250 mm
Dry Weight: 560 kg
Front Tyres: Pirelli 5.25x16"
Rear Tyres: Pirelli 5.50x16"
Bodywork: Aluminium single-seater body

After the excitement of a new World Championship.

Formula 1 was looking at a bleak season for 1952. Alfa Romeo had withdrawn from Grand Prix racing and the spoils were left to Ferrari and the hopeless BRM teams, supported by various relics from years gone by. The action was in Formula 2 and trough the insistence of the track promoters the governing body decided to sanction Grands Prix that were open only to F2 cars as championship scoring events. Since a new 2.5-litre unblown/750cc supercharged Formula 1 would take effect in 1954 this would only serve as a stop-gap and seemed a prudent thing to do. Building upon a theme that would be repeated in the future Ferrari was well positioned to take advantage of the new rules. Aurelio Lampredi, Ferrari's chief designer had built an uncomplicated but superbly prepared car the Tipo 500.

The car was powered by a simple in-line 4-cylinder twin-cam engine with two spark plugs per cylinder. This was installed into a welded-tube ladder-frame chassis with double-wishbone suspension at the front and a de Dion axle at the rear. The four-speed gearbox was mounted with the differential and connected to the engine via a short driveshaft running under the driver's seat.

This combination of proven design, the weight savings of a smaller engine and of course the skill of Alberto Ascari proved unbeatable. Ferrari and their Tipo 500 would win every race they entered except for two non-championship events and the final Grand Prix of 1953. The cars made there debut at the Modena GP at the tail end of the 1951 season with Ascari winning by a lap over the older V12 Tipo 166 of Froilan Gonzalez. The 1952 season was inaugurated at Syracuse in Sicily. The cars had new bodywork and four Weber carburetors. Ascari led a Ferrari 123 finish and went on to claim the World Championship for 1952 and 1953. With the new rules for the 1954 season Formula 1 was once again the premier series the Tipo 500 was upgraded to 2.5 litres capacity and redesignated the Tipo 625. But soon they would be overshadowed by the Maserati 250F and the Mercedes W196.