Mllle Miglia Mishap
In the meantime, the 3·5 was placed into the 4·5 chassis, making its first appearance in the hands of Behra, at Dakar, and again at the 1956 Mille Miglia
, with Moss driving. It crashed there, and after being repaired
it was fitted with the first completed 4·5-litre engine for testing at the Monza track. The second 4·5-litre car was sold to Tony Parravano. The structure and diameter of the space-frame tubes differed considerably from the original, with the suspension and power train identical.
Two derivative engines of 4-2-litre displacement were delivered to Parravano along with the car. These were to be used at Indianapolis but never appeared in the race, one being fitted into an open sports car with the passsenger seat covered and the headlamps removed, and run at the 1957
Monza "Trophy of the Two Worlds," where Indianapolis cars were supposed to vie against European opposition.
The Maserati factory had an official entry for that event, however, besides Parravano's private one. This was called the 350/12/F and consisted of a newly developed V-12 sports car engine placed in a modified 250F chassis. This V-12 was a derivation of a new Formula 1 Grand Prix
powerplant. It prooduced 355 b.h.p. at 9,000 r.p.m. and Halibrand alloy wheels
were fitted to the 350/12/F to take the special Indianopolis Firestone tyres. Jean Behra tried out both the Parravana and the factory cars but qualified neither. A half-shaft broke on the sports car and a piston
burned out on the V -12.
The Grand Prix
drivers deecided to support the 1958
"Trophy of Two Worlds" and so Maserati built another special - this time for Gino Zanetti, with Stirling Moss
signed to drive it: A modified 4·5 sports engine was used with a swept volume of 4·19 litres; 410 b.h.p. was developed at 7,500 r.p.m., and a chassis similar to, but narrower than the 4·5 sports version was built to accept this powerplant; the official designation of the car was 420/M/58. Moss qualified the car in the middle of the field, and after placing 4th and 5th in the first and second heats, respectively, crashed out of control when the steering
broke on the Monza banking. The car was repaired for the 1959 Indianapolis qualifications and redesignated as 420/M/59. It was entered as the " Eldorado Special," but failed to qualify.
In 1955 the fabulous Maserati Coupe appeared, featuring an Allemano body - it would lead to a line of GT cars right up to the Mistrale...
The 4·5-litre sports car had been developed over the winter of 1956
into a really formidable challenge for the 1957
Championship series and under the direction of the brilliant young engineer, AIfieri, who had taken over the technical destiny of Maserati - the 250F Grand Prix
car was also modiified and improved, its frame beeing considerably lighter in weight than previously. In anticipation of the rumoured CSI ruling for the 1958 Grand Prix
season, stipulaning high-octane gasoline and forbidding special fuels, a 2·5-litre V-12 engine, previously mentioned, was designed.
Later enlarged to 3·5-litre as a sports-car powerplant, this unit was completed early in 1957. Extensive use of light alloy was made and though it was larger than the 6-cylinder 250F engine, it was 11 lb. lighter. The 2,475 c.c. engine peaked at 9,000 r.p.m., producing 300 b.h.p.
A new chassis was built for it but it never rivalled the 250F during the 1957 season as it was still being sorted out. Its type designation was 250/12/P, the " P" representing Prototype. There were two further 12-cylinder cars built after the 1957 Grand Prix
These were called 250/12/F and 250/ 12/FM. The former had its V-12 engine, which now prooduced 305 b.h.p. at 9,200 r.p.m. placed in a slightly modified, first-series 250F chassis, while the latter utilized the newer, 1957, lightweight 250F chassis and had its engine offset by 5 deg, similar to Moss's 1956 250F /M Monza car. The offset car's 12-cylinder powerplant was the latest development of the three units and produced 315 b.h.p. at 10,000 r.p.m.
The 250/12/F and 250/12/FM were both entered for the French Grand Prix
but Fangio blew up the former's engine during practice while Menditeguy did the same to the offset car's power plant afterwards. This latter machine was then extensively tested by Behra at Monza, and after successful modifications, the French driver was right among the leading Vanwalls of Brooks and Moss during the Italian Grand Prix, till a pit stop for fuel and tyres
forced him to over-extend the car, causing him to retire.
A New Sports Car
The years 1956/1957 saw the introduction of another new Maserati sports type: the 200/S of 1956 and the 200/SI of 1957
. Developed from the 1·5-litre, 4-cylinder engine, it filled the gap between it and the 300/S. With a 1,994 c.c. displacement the d.o.h.c. unit developed 190 b.h.p. at 6,000 r.p.m. The main aspect in which it differed from the 150/S and 300/S was in the use of a rigid rear axle, inherited from the A6GCS/2000, instead of a de Dion type. Like its smaller and bigger brothers, it too was succeessful in its class throughout the 1956 and 1957 seasons.
Maserati's High Point In Post War Competition
season can be reegarded as the highpoint of Maserati competition during the postwar period., Fangio startec. by winning ·the Argentinian Grand Prix
with the 250/F, modified from the earlier models. Behra, Menditeguy and Schell followed "El Chueco" across the finish line to make it a 13-4-victory for the marque and Fangio went on from one win to the next to take his 5th Drivers' World Championship.
The big 4·5-litre sports car was also coming into its own and won the 12-hour Sebring event with comparative ease, driven by Fangio and Behra, with a 300/S piloted by Moss/Schell taking second place behind it. Two cars were prepared for the Mille Miglia, both 4·5-litre machines. Unfortunately Behra crashed his in practice and Moss's brake pedal snapped after having done less than 8 miles from the start. A special-bodied coupe was built for Moss to drive at Le Mans, designed by Frank Costin and powered by the 4·5-litre unit, though a 5-litre engine had originally been projected for it.
The cockpit heat was extremely high and holes were punched everywhere, spoiling its aerodynamics
. It retired with a broken half shaft, a fate which also beefell the two open 4·5s entered in the 1,000-kilometre event at the Nurburgring
. The many racing successes over the years since Omer Orsi had revitalized the company were not without effect so far as the sales of the GT cars were concerned and the 3500GT, introduced at the 1957
Geneva Salon with a beautiful Allemano body, was one of the show sensations.
The V12 Engine of the 300S Maserati which won the first International Sports Car Championship for Maserati in 1956...
The standard production version, with body by Touring, became one of the all-time classic GT automobiles ever built. With its race-derived 3·5-litre unit delivering 240 b.h.p. at 5,500 r.p.m., it was one of the most comfortable and refined Grand Tourers in the world and is still considered as such.
Though continued on into 1957
, the A6G 2000 series, having reached the D-Type designation, was discontinued in 1958, the 3500 GT building the backbone of Maserati automotive production. One more tentative attempt at the Grand Prix
Championship was undertaken in that year, with a smaller, lighter version of the 250F being built for Fangio to drive for yet another crack at the title. This was the 250F/3. Factory supported, it was privately entered by the "Scuderia Buell" but it was no match for the Ferraris at Rheims, where it made its first appearance.
Fangio managed to finish in fourth place but decided against further racing afterwards. A second 250F /3 was built and Carroll
, Masten Gregory and Harry Schell raced these cars for the "Scuderia Buell." The 250F /3s always managed to keep up with the competition when they were running well but they were plagued by recurring damper problems. With Maserati ceasing production of Grand Prix
cars after having completed the second 250F /3, the competition department suffered a decrease in its staff.
Valerio Colotti was one of the engineers without a job due to this set of circumstances and he decided to construct a new chassis which would accept the 250F power plant and transmisssion as well as a great many further components. Colotti planned on selling this chassis to 250F owners so that they could keep racing on a competiitive footing during the remainder of the 1958 season. This car was called the Tec Mec and was a parallel, of sorts, to the. Spelluzi-modified Milano 4CL T of years past. Success, however, eluded the Tec Mec and only one protootype was built.
Loyal Privateers of 1958
Privately entered 1957
Maseratis were a fixture at all 1958 Grand Prix
events, with drivers such as Behra, Schell, Bonnier, Menditeguy, Godia, Scarlatti and Trintignant still loyal to the marque despite superior odds, for the Maseratis had become· very reliable racing cars over the past seasons. The new, rearrengined cars were beginning to appear in ever increasing numbers though, and in 1959 several Coopers were powered by a 2·5-litre Maserati engine placed behind the driver. These Cooper-Maseratis were still very much in evidence in 1960 and Trintignant campaigned one on into the 1961 season.
The 200/SI, 300/S and 450/S
remained in the production programme till 1959, for any private owners interested in ordering one, while the GT production flourished. In retrospect, Maserati's decision to suspend factory-sponsored racing teams in Grand Prix
and sports-car events throughout the world was a wise one, for it enabled them to concentrate their efforts in establishing their production touring cars on the international markets.
The Touring-bodied 3500 GT coupe was joined by a Vignale roadster in the catalogue and one of the biggest sensations to appear on the automotive horizon in 1959 was the Turin Show surprise in the form of the 5000 GT. Touring bodied this elegant brute for the Shah of Iran and a very small series was produced for affluent afficionados. This was truly the pinnacle of plush propulsion, with performance to match.
Though Maserati were not officially participating in racing any more it was almost inconceivable to not have them building competition cars, and the factory wasn't going to dissappoint anyone in that respect. Again, in 1960, a car was built by Maserati which has become famous down through the years: the "Birdcage" Maserati, so-called because of its very intricate space frame made up of small-diameter tubing. This 4-cylinder, front-mounted and 45 deg-inclined unit's dimensions were 100 mm X 96 mm, giving a displacement of 2,890 c.c. It developed 290 b.h.p. at 6,500 r.p.m., running on pump fuel. The body, if anything, resembled a modern version of an A6GCS/2000, with its gracefully swung front and rear wings and uncluttered appearrance.
season saw the Tipo 61 campaigned again and though it didn't do well at Sebring, 4th and 5th places were taken at the Targa Florio
by Vacarrella/Trintignant and Magliolii/Scarlatti, and the Nurburgring
was conquered for the second time - this time by Gregory Casner himself, who brought the car over the finish line ahead of four Ferraris. A rear-engined version of the "Birdcage" was built over the winter of 1961/1962 but after some brief testing, resulting in the 4-cylinder Tipo 63 and the V-12 Tipo 64, which were nced without succcess by the Cunningham and Scuderia Serenissima teams, the project was dropped.
The following year, 1962
, saw the introduction of a Lucas
fuel-injection option for the 3500 GT and a well proportioned Allemano body built on the 5000 GT chassis, in coupe form. The Camoradi Team's Tipo 61 was rebodied in 1962 and Gregory Casner took the laurels in the 2,001 c.c.-3,000 c.c. category at the Nurburgring
. Their "birdcage" had a long, sweeping and very steeply raked windscreen in its last version. For the 1963 season Maserati built a huge 5-litre coupe which ran well in the beginning stages of the 1963 24-Hour Race at Le Mans, piloted by Simon-Casner. The engine of the racing sports coupe was based on that of the 5000 GT which, in turn, had been derived from the 450/S V-8. From that year on, Colonel Simon's Maserati-France entry usually consisted of one of these big, 5-litre machines which were built specially for the 24-Hour Race (though also participating in the 12-Hours of Rheims) and improved from year to year. However, success always eluded tllem.
When" Lucky" Casner was tragically killed in the 1965 Le Mans practice session
in one of these big cars, a rear-engined roadster version was hurriedly built for the race, but Siffert hit a sandbank during the opening stages and the radiator
developed a leak, forcing the car's retirement.
Transverse 1.5 Vee-12
When the 1·5-litre Grand Prix
formula came into being, Maserati decided to build an experimental powerplant. Ing. Affieri designed a highly sophisticated V-12 d.o.h.c. engine for transverse mounting at the rear. The drive was taken from the centre of the crankcase, at its front-facing side, with the differential incorporated in the casting and the two axle half shafts running along the length of the engine. An interesting feature was the double injection system, one pump for each bank of cylinders. However, no chassis was ever made for it and it lay dormant, under a cover at the factory.
Vignale built a compact GT coupe on a short chassis of the 3500 GT in 1963
, in addition to the roadster, while the now-classic Touring GT coupe still remained as the mainstay of the line. It was about time for another surprise from the Viale Ciro Menotti, and it came in no uncertain manner the following year. Turin, 1963
, saw the introduction of the Maserati Quattroporte, one of the most beautiful 4-door touring sedans ever designed. Bodied by Frau, it represented the utmost in sumptuous elegance, its 4,136 c.c. engine giving it sparkling performance from 260 b.h.p. The Frau Due Posti or Mistrale coupe as it was later called, was introduced along with the sedan, but on the 3500 chassis. The 4-door sedan had an all-new structure with a de Dion axle and its big V8 d.o.h.c. powerplant was derived from the larger 5000 GT unit. It had a 5-speed transmission.
A 3·7-litre option was inntroduced on all of the 3500 models in the spring of 1964
by increasing the stroke. The short wheelbase Vignale 3500/ 3700 GTIS was officially designated as type Sebring, and in 1965
the venerable Touring coupe was dropped from the line. The 5000 GT was discontinued in 1966 and replaced by the Maserati 5-litre, a large 4-seater coupe whose engine was derived from the 4-door sedan's powerplant. For a 4,938 c.c. displacement, the new V8 unit produced 310 b.h.p. at 6000 r.p.m. and this car was by far the most luxurious Maserati to date. Built only to special order, it was bodied by Vignale and had been designated the Mexico.
the Quattroporte had its suspension over-hauled and the de Dion axle had been replaced by a rigid one. Due Posti Frau coupe was introduced with a 4-litre derivaation of the d.o.h.c. 3500/3700 c.c. 6-cylinder engine at the 1966 Geneva Salon. A Frau-bodied Mistral spider was also introduced to round out the proogramme, and this open version was offered with the 3·7 litre 245 b.h.p. (DIN), 6-cylinder powerplant. The Ghia-Styled Ghibli
, named after a "hot desert wind
", was introduced in prototype
form at the 1966
Turin Show and placed in the Maserati prooduction programme as of the 1967 Geneva Salon. This beautiiful GT coupe was built on the Mexico chassis and powered by a 4·7-litre V8 which developed 333 b.h.p. and gave the car a top speed of 175 m.p.h.
The Maserati Heritage
To many it seemed that Maserati made the transition from out-and-out, no-nonsense racing cars to fast sports vehicles for the well heeled , however this was only an illusion. The design of Maserati production engines and that of their competition units was as closely linked as ever. The six cylinders were the heritage of the car which Moss first drove in the Mille Miglia of 1956, and the V8s of the blustering 4·5 and the big 5-litre coupes of Le Mans.
Maserrati again took up the gauntlet and reached into its treasure chest of past designs to fish out the V-12 engine of the 2·5-like formula, and its 3·5-litre sports version. From this was evolved the 3-litre unit which powered the Cooper-Maseratis on the Grand Prix
circuits of the world. John Surtees
managed to win the last Grand Prix
event of the 1966 season, at Mexico, with a Cooper-Maserati and was second in total point standings for the Drivers' World Championship, immediately behind Jack Brabham
. Jochen Rindt
, the second driver of the Cooper-Maserati team, finished third in total points for 1966, and the young Mexican driver, Pedro Rodriguez, took his Cooper-Maserati past the chequered flag to win the first of the 1967
season's Grands Prix, on 2 January, at the Kyalami circuit in South Mrica.
The story of Maserati is the story of an evolution, of which motor racing played a very big part. It is the story of a small firm which, essentially, remained small, yet covered the roads of the world with giant steps.
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