1956-1959 2 1/2-Liter Maserati 250F Monoposto

This magnificent Maserati 250F was built new as a private customer car to the order of Australian owner-driver Stan Jones.

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Father of Alan Jones – who would win the Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship title with the Williams team in 1980 – Stan Jones was a contemporary Australian hero for his exploits in the very fast and powerful Maybach Special single-seater racing car, built by Repco engineer Charlie Dean. One of Jones’s greatest ambitions was to win his national Grand Prix race, and when Dean traveled to Europe in mid-1955 he negotiated their order for a brand new 250F Formula 1 car from Officine Maserati in Modena.

Quite typically, the photographic record of Maserati’s Formula 1 history reveals that this car – officially serialed “2520” – was first used by the factory team before being shipped ‘brand new’ to Jones in Australia.

Its first race was actually the 1956 Argentine Grand Prix, in which it was driven by none other than Jose Froilan Gonzalez – having apparently been shipped to Buenos Aires under documentation as “2512.” The great Gonzalez actually led the opening stages of the Grand Prix in this car, only to suffer engine trouble attributed to substandard local fuel.

This car was race worthy again in time for the following Buenos Aires City GP, actually run at Mendoza in the Andean foothills, where Maserati entrusted it to local driver Pablo Gulle who finished eighth in a strong international field.

The original Jones order had included two alternative six-cylinder engines for “2520,” one 2 1/2-litre Formula 1 unit and a 3-litre for Formula Libre races.

The price was ₤10,000, and the car arrived in Melbourne on the Neptunia on April 22, 1956, making its “down under” debut in a demonstration at Geelong sprints on May 27. It was then displayed at the Adelaide Motor Show before Jones ran it in the June race meeting at Port Wakefield, before winning the New South Wales Road Racing Championship at Bathurst.

Stan Jones and “2520” thereafter became the dominant force in Australian motor sport, achieving a long string of major successes. In a minor setback in Albert Park, Melbourne, on November 24, Jones left the road in the first 100 yards and bent “2520’s” front suspension against a tree.

This damage was so minor it was repaired within days and Jones raced again in the following weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

Before 110,000 spectators, with works Maseratis driven by Moss and Behra leading British visitor Peter Whitehead’s big 3.5-litre Ferrari, Stan Jones in “2520” was the leading Australian, running fourth until a minor fault persuaded him to ease off, and he finished fifth, second Australian home.

His busy 1957 program with “2520” then saw him competing in the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore, then Philip Island, Fisherman’s Bend, and again in the Australian Grand Prix (using his 3-litre engine) at Caversham, WA. In practice the Jones Maserati was 0.7 seconds faster than its closest rival. Lex Davison’s 3-litre ex-F1 Ferrari, and ‘2520’ won its preliminary heat in dominant style. In the 70-lap final, run in murderous 104-degree heat, Jones took the lead from Davison ending lap two. While Davison later handed over his car to co-driver Bill Patterson, Jones drove unrelieved and began to suffer from heatstroke. A minor collision caused him to spin after Davison had resumed his seat in the second-placed Ferrari, and a 20 second pit stop for a drink then cost the glassy-eyed Jones his lead.

But while Davison had evidently gone by to take the lead, Jones’s pit-crew believed he had merely put himself back onto the same lap as their car, which was therefore still first. Stan Jones believed so, and when he took the checkered flag – utterly exhausted – he was garlanded as the winner, at last, of his home Grand Prix. A protest over a minor placing then led to the lap charts being reviewed, and investigation confirmed Lex Davison instead as the winner, and so “2520” here and its rugged driver were demoted to second place.

Through 1957 into the early party of 1958 – before the new rear-engined lightweight Cooper-Climax cars asserted themselves on the tighter circuits – Stan Jones’s “2520” reigned virtually supreme.

By 1958 it was available for sale but Jones still campaigned it widely. It was both the Bathurst circuit lap record holder and the season’s most consistently fast car when that year’s Australian GP was run there on October 6. Jones and “2520” were leading, despite an inoperative clutch. They seemed poised to win the Grand Prix at last, until, with only four laps to run, they had to retire.

On March 2, 1959, the Australian GP was then run on the great public road course at Longford, Tasmania. Stan Jones’s gleaming Maserati had been lovingly prepared by Otto Stone and John Sawyer and, as the official history of the Australian GP puts it, “Jones was able to take back from Australian motor racing just a little of what he had for so long been putting into it.”

An exciting race saw this thoroughbred front-engined, drum-braked Maserati locked in close combat with Len Lukey’s rear-engined, disc-braked Cooper-Climax. These two cars reportedly touched wheels at several points around the circuit, but “2520’s” power eventually told and Stan Jones at last achieved his ambition, and the Maserati described here won this classic colonial Grand Prix.

The car lay unused during 1960 but re-emerged in 1961 on loan to David McLay for the New Zealand GP, but he spun and retired.

In September 1961, it was displayed at the Melbourne Racing Car Show, then spent much time as a car-showroom attention grabber until November 3 1963, when it made its last Australian appearance in an Historic event at Sandown Park, Melbourne. It was finally sold in 1964 to British enthusiast Colin Crabbe, becoming one of the backbone cars of the British Historic racing scene.

In 1965 it was raced by both Colin Crabbe and Warwick Banks, Neil Corner used it in 1966, and the 1967 British Grand Prix meeting it was demonstrated by the great French veteran “Phi-Phi” Etancelin. In 1971 Nigel Moores campaigned “2520” which passed subsequently to Anthony Bamford, then in 1973 to David Llewellyn. He campaigned the car regularly for some eight years. Journalist Alan Henry track-tested it for “MotorSport” magazine (August 1981) and it was then sold to its once-removed current owner, who has maintained it for the past 15 years in his private European collection.

This is a classic example of Maserati’s quintessential front-engined Grand Prix car. It is one of the few to be so closely identified with one charismatic owner-driver, and it has perfect provenance.