1956 Maserati 300S

The Trident symbol, representing the city of Bologna, features foremost on the Maserati emblem and is often referred to as the heartbeat of Italian motoring – in that Bologna is situated in the central part of Italy and the Maserati name has been associated with racing since the early 1920s. Certainly the name Maserati has been upholding Italian honors for longer than any other sports and racing car manufacturer and yet it has always been a small family-oriented company.

In pre-war times the Maserati brothers, each with their specific responsibilities only built racing cars for their customers.

It was not until the immediate post-war years that the company, now under the financial control of Count Adolfo Orsi and his son Omer, but still with the technical input of the Maserati brothers, introduced their first custom road sports car, the Tipo A6. This was a direct descendant of the prewar Voiturette Racing Tipo 6CM with a 1,500 cc six-cylinder single overhead camshaft engine, independent suspension and ladder frame chassis which was launched at the 1947 Geneva Motor Show, clothed in a simple Pinin Farina Coupe body.

Luigi Villoresi debuted the car in that year’s Mille Miglia but retired with wheel bearing failure. The A6, in various guises, went on to win a number of events. Up to the end of 1950 some sixty cars had been built and between 1951 and 1953 a further sixteen 2-liter versions had been sold.

In the meantime the Maserati brothers had left and set up their own OSCA organization, and the factory was primarily involved in supplying privateers with their 1.5-liter Supercharged 4CLT Grand Prix cars. The A6 engine was considerably improved in 1951 to form the basis of the new 2-liter Formula II car, the A6 GCM, which was raced by a number of drivers including Fangio and Gonzalez.

The increase of engine capacity in Formula 1 to 2.5 liters in 1954 saw Maserati introduce their famous Colombo-designed 250F Series in which a similar engine was fitted to a revised A6 GCS sports car and was designated 250S. The car’s greatest virtue was in the handling, but although popular with privateers, they were handicapped by the lack of capacity – thus in 1955 Maserati created the Tipo 300S which was virtually a sports racing version of the 250F Grand Prix car.

Colombo had left Maserati to design Bugatti’s abortive Formula 1 car and the development of work of the 300S was undertaken by Bittono Bellentani. The engine capacity of the six-cylinder twin overhead camshaft engine had been increased to 2,993 cc with a claimed output of 250 bhp. The chassis, which closely resembled the 250F, had a ladder frame with large diameter main tubes, coil spring and unequal wishbone front suspension with a de Dion axle and transverse leaf spring to the rear. Like its sister car, the 300S had a reputation for superb road holding; all drivers remember it with the utmost of affection as being the ultimate 3-liter Sports Racing car. There was another similarity to the 250F and that was in its appearance.

Just as the Grand Prix car has come to epitomize the style of Formula 1 cars of the period, the 300S is the essence of sports racing cars with its beautifully balanced line, which was clearly aerodynamically efficient and came from the competition coach builder Fantuzzi.

The first three production cars, Nos. 3051, 3052 and 3053, were sold to Briggs Cunningham in America in early 1955 prior to the first official team car being built in which Luigi Musso came a creditable 3rd in the 671-mile Tour of Sicily, and was up to a second place at mid-stage in the Mille Miglia driven by Cesare Perdisa before retiring with gearbox problems.

The first victory for a 300S came in the Bari Grand Prix, driven by Jean Behra, with Musso coming in second; he was to provide a further victory in the Supercortemaggiore race at Monza prior to Le Mans. The 24-hour race was an inauspicious occasion for Maserati, their 300S cars retiring although the Musso/Valenzana car was running second after 19 hours before transmission problems intervened. The principle competition came from Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Jaguar, and Aston Martin, all of whom provided better straight line speed. However, like the A6 GCS, the 300S was a better handling car and its long stroke 3-liter engine was proving to have a good endurance record. No better example of this than Fangio’s win at the end of the 1955 season in the first Venezuelan Grand Prix, emerging a clear winner by two laps in his 300S.

The 1956 Sports Championship saw Stirling Moss joining the Maserati team and the race car preparation was now under the guidance of Giulio Alfieri. The season began on a high note with Moss winning the Buenos Aires 1,000 Kilometer race ahead of the 3 1/2-liter Ferrari of Gendebien/Hill and providing a sensational win at the Nurburgring, just 26 seconds ahead of Fangio’s Ferrari. He was to repeat that result in the 2nd Venezuelan Grand Prix and Nassau Trophy, finally scoring an easy 1-2 victory in the Australia Tourist Trophy and coming second overall in the World Sports Car Championship.

The car pictured here, chassis no. 3062, was owned in 1957 by Gino Munaron and was one of the Maseratis that was sent to South America by Marcelo Giambertone (Fangio’s manager) at the request of L’Automobile Club de Brazile.

Three Maserati 300Ss were entered in the 1957 race meetings at the Grand Prix circuits of Boa Vista and Interlagos in Brazil. It is believed that 3062 is the actual car driven to victory by Fangio in both these events. Certainly in the late 1950s it passed into the hands of the present seller’s father who campaigned it at Interlagos himself a number of times before laying it up in storage in the early 1960s where it has subsequently resided for over 35 years.

The car today remains in unrestored condition, and most significantly, untouched for almost four decades. It is sold with numerous spare parts including the original set of wheels, spare magnetos and a spare crankshaft.