Unlike most high-value sports cars seen on the track, at concours or auction, this car doesn’t boast a better-than-new respray. It has no paint at all
Chassis 2401 occupies a place of distinction in the evolution of Maserati sports racing cars, as it was the first 200S chassis produced, the works development car for the series and a member of the factory racing team. As the first of the line, the Maserati factory was entirely responsible for its construction, making this car a rarity amongst the various 200S models. Chassis 2401 was so far ahead of regular 200S production, that upon its debut in May 1955, it wore coachwork unmistakable from the preceding 150S.
Beneath the skin, however, it was clear that much had changed. Maserati finally issued the Foglio di Montaggio for 2401 on April 26, 1956, only three days before the Mille Miglia. 2401 proved luckless, eventually succumbing to brake troubles caused by a downpour. In the following month Maserati made the most radical changes yet to their factory development car. Chassis 2401 received the sleek and beautiful long-nose bodywork that immediately differentiated it from its early configuration, and it was left unpainted.
In May 1956, Cesare Perdisa tested the new and improved 2401 at Monza, ushering in a new era of racing success for Maserati’s 200S. Famed French Maserati team driver Jean Behra was enlisted to pilot the 200S at the Grand Prix di Bari on the Adriatic coast. His talent helped him to capture an overall victory and record the fastest lap of the race.
After Bari, the 200S made a journey into Germany to compete on the legendary Nürburgring – to many, the supreme test of a sports car. On August 1, Stirling Moss piloted the bare aluminum 200S, fitted with a 1.5-liter engine, to a 2nd place finish behind Herrmann’s 550A in the Rheinland Cup sports car race. During the battle for first, Moss managed to establish the fastest lap of the race at 10 minutes, 13.3 seconds, and in so doing, proved that the 200S was a match for the best that Germany had to offer.
The next month, 2401 was again returned to Modena, completing the final stage of its progress towards becoming a 200SI. SI stood for Sport Internazionale in recognition of its compliance with the new FIA mandates.
Chassis 2401 immediately became the subject of Maserati literature, including the factory’s sales brochure and specification sheets. Shortly after the Grand Prix of Caracas in Venezuela, the Maserati factory sold 2401, by then fully developed and race-proven, to Venezuelan privateer Ettore Chimeri. The car spent time with several owners until 1979, when it was sold to Nobuo Harada of Japan and displayed as a prized trophy for some 22 years in the Kawaguchiko Motor Museum.
It wasn’t until 2001 that 2401 finally became available, and it subsequently sold to Dr. Wolf Zweifler, a noted German Maserati collector who returned the car to its former competition glory. In the years that followed, the 200SI could be seen competing at events such as Modena Cento Ore, the Le Mans Classic, the Ferrari Maserati Historic Challenge at Nürburgring and Monza, as well as a number of Mille Miglia Storicas. During that period, the paint on 2401 was carefully removed, exposing the beautiful, highly original alloy bodywork and returning the car to its 1956 Nürburgring livery.