Gallery: John Surtees and the Ferrari 158 F1 – MSR Premium
The only man to be a champion on both two and four wheels. We have a closer look at John Surtees and his championship winning Ferrari 158 F1
Images & Story Jayson Fong of Form & Function
The world has never seen anyone else like him. The only man to be a champion on both two and four wheels, John Surtees is nothing less than a legend of speed.
From 1956 to 1970, he claimed a remarkable seven world championships on motorcycles for the famed MV Augusta factory team. Then in 1964, he took the crown for four wheels in a stunning Ferrari 158 F1.
Built as a successor to the once dominating Ferrari 156 F1, the 158 brought the prancing horse back to serious podium contention during the 1964 season after two uncompetitive seasons.
With the 156’s V6 being outpaced by the British V8’s, Maranello met the need for the return of such an engine by producing a 1.5-litre, 210hp heart for the 158. The engine was also another step up from previous Ferrari generations by being the first to have twin plug ignition and direct fuel injection.
The V8 was paired together with a revised ‘Aero’ chassis and much thinner steel tubing; the space frame reduced weight and increased rigidity and handling ability.
It had been two seasons since Ferrari had been crowned the champions of F1, but the 158 proved its worthiness while Surtees was locked in a gripping three-way battle with fellow icons; Graham Hill and Jim Clarke.
By the end of the season, Surtees would emerge the victor over Hill by a single point, cementing his place in history as a grand master of racing.
He will also be forever remembered for reviving the spirit of the Ferrari stables as ‘John the Great’.
– On a stranger note, the Ferrari 158 F1 also has an interesting place in Ferrari racing history as the car that raced (and won the championship) without the famous Rosso Corsa. In protest against Italian motor authorities concerning the arguments around the homologation of the new 250LM, Ferrari instead wore the blue and white colours of the US based NART team.