1959 W.R.E.-Maserati

Tim Scott ©2017, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The 1950s saw a surge in the popularity of small-displacement 4-cylinder engines. Few were as influential as the engine that powered Maserati’s 200S sports racer. The competition-proven Modena powerplant attracted significant interest from privateers running other makes, and the company was only too happy to sell engines to such concerns, paving the way for race cars like the Cooper- and Lotus-Maserati.

In 1959, an American driver, Tony Settember, purchased a 200S engine with the intention of using it in his Wilment. After enlisting British fabricator John Wadsworth to assist in the construction of a purpose-built tube frame, a ground-up car was completed in Modena’s various workshops under the company name of World Racing Enterprises (W.R.E.).

At the Naples Grand Prix in July 1959, the new sports racer blew away the competition. Unhappy with being outdone by an American on their home territory, runners-up Luigi Bellucci and Mannato Boffa ordered their own W.R.E. on the spot.

Two additional cars were soon built under Bellucci’s leadership, with Wadsworth overseeing fabrication. All the W.R.E.-Maseratis featured aluminum coachwork, fully independent suspension, disc brakes at all four corners (inboard at the rear), a Halibrand quick-change differential with Corvette-style limited-slip, and cast-magnesium wheel discs on 15-inch Borrani rims.

As the second W.R.E.-Maserati built, Chassis 1002 completed assembly in late 1959 and debuted to a 1st overall finish at the Agnano-Cappella dei Cangiani hillclimb in March 1960. The three W.R.E.-Maseratis enjoyed substantial competition success over the following few years.

 

Thor Thorson

Thor Thorson - SCM Contributing Editor

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

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