One of the major attractions at the 2014 Autosport International Show was, undoubtedly, the feature on 1964 Formula 1 world champion John Surtees, with your eyes being immediately drawn to the stunning Ferrari 158 that he drove to his only F1 title.
2014 marks the 50th anniversary of that championship win, which made the 79-year-old the only man to win world titles on both two and four wheels. The appearance of the iconic machine at the show was a rare one, as it can usually be found at the George Barber Museum in Alabama, USA.
The 158 was the successor to the V6-powered 156 that had dominated the sport in 1961, but had become outdated for the following season. It was powered by a 1.5 litre, lightweight V8 engine that produced 210bhp and ran at 11,000rpm.
It ran on Dunlop tyres, with Shell fuel, a six-speed manual gearbox and weighed just 468kg – which included oil and water. Unusually, the typical rossa corsa red wasn’t used at the final two rounds of the 1964 season as Ferrari didn’t actually enter the cars. Instead, the North American Racing Team – its American importer – did, with the cars being painted blue and white.
The 158 is recognised as being the car that John Surtees drove to his only F1 title. He started his career racing on motorcycles before switching to cars in 1960, following just a handful of races in series below motorsport’s pinnacle. He famously turned down a drive at Ferrari after his first year in the sport, choosing to gain more experience before joining the team for 1963. He left during the 1966 season and went on to race for Honda, BRM and his own team. He retired from motor racing in 1972.
His team-mate for 1964 was Lorenzo Bandini, an Italian racer who also started off racing on motorcycles. He soon switched to cars and joined Ferrari for 1962. Following a number of podiums and one win during his time at the Scuderia, he unfortunately lost his life driving for the team at the 1967 Monaco Grand Prix.
1964 was a year of great success for Ferrari, with Surtees winning the drivers’ title and the team also clinching the constructors’ championship as well.
Surtees won two races in the 1964 season, in Germany and on the team’s home turf in Italy, as well as taking four other podiums. Bandini won in Austria and scored three other podiums, but only one of which was at the wheel of a 158 – he drove three different cars during that season.
The car was then used by Surtees at the start of the 1965 season, before Bandini then drove it for three more races. Their lead driver scored two podiums with the car before switching to the 1512 with the flat-12 engine.
Check out our special nostalgia piece on John Surtees, taking a look back at his incredible career on both two and four wheels, here.
Images courtesy of RichlandF1