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Another masterpiece from Oamaru’s Rod Tempero – the Tempero 335S.

WORDS: Allan Dick | PHOTO: Brian High

The 335S was the car that won the 1957 World Sports Car Championship for Ferrari from the 450S of arch-rival Maserati. It is also the hero car in the recent movie Ferrari that focused on the year 1957 when Ferrari was having money worries. Such was the pace and power of both of these cars that officials stepped in after the dreadful crash in the 1957 Mille Miglia killing the driver the Marquis de Portago, his co-driver Ed Nelson and nine spectators. A tyre had burst at 150mph. It was felt the cars were getting too fast and for 1958 engine capacity was reduced.

1957 was the ultimate year of the front-engined sports racing car in terms of both performance and beauty. Rod Tempero - who is no stranger to these pages thanks to the succession of genius replicas he and his small team have produced from the modest workshops on the outskirts of Oamaru - says of the 335S – “In my opinion it’s the most beautiful and brutal car of the era and the running gear is just so impressive.” Rod’s admiration for the 335S was such that even with a reasonably full order book, he took some time out and, just for the sake of it, drew the car in chalk, full size and in profile, on his work board — it’s the way he begins every build.

“I was building a GTO for a customer and one day he came in to see how progress was going and he brought along a friend who saw the drawing and asked if he could have one.” Nothing is impossible for Rod and his team and, several months later, the car was complete, and the owner had taken delivery.

Magnificent doesn’t begin to describe this visual mix of sumptuous power. It’s the embodiment of the iron fist in the velvet glove. It’s the automotive equivalent of a love child between a young Arnold Schwarzenegger and a young Raquel Welch. But before we look at Rod’s car, let’s just take a look at exactly what the 335S is.

The World Sports Car Championship
This race series was created in 1952 after the successful introduction of F1 and the World Driver’s Championship in 1950. While the series was essentially created for “gentlemen racers” (the latter-day Bentley Boys if you like) it also attracted the attention of several major manufacturers who entered works teams. But, after a successful start, in 1956 the series was in rebuild mode after the tragedy at Le Mans the year before when 83 spectators and Mercedes-Benz driver Pierre Levegh died in an horrific accident. Shocked by the tragedy, Mercedes-Benz withdrew from both sports car and grand prix racing, albeit having won both championships. A pall hung over motorsport, the German Grand Prix that year was cancelled and some countries like Switzerland, Mexico and Spain banned the sport completely for several years, with the Swiss ban remaining in place until 2022! However, the sport survived but under closer scrutiny and with increased circuit safety requirements.

As a direct result of the Le Mans disaster, the 1956 sports car season was reduced to just five rounds and was knuckled out primarily between Italian archrivals Ferrari and Maserati. Ferrari used a couple of different cars to take the title, including the V12 powered 290MM and the four-cylinder 750 ‘Monza’, while Maserati relied on the 300S. New Zealand has a Monza Ferrari powered by a 3.0-litre four-cylinder engine at the Southward Car Museum and it’s a gorgeous looking car.

Continue reading in our May/June 2024 issue of NZ Classic Driver - out now!

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