Maserati - Italian
Author: ArchitectPage

Written in 1964

 IT is possible that no other manufacturer has undergone such a sweeping change in policy as did Maserati in 1958. After thirty years of racing and building racing cars for sale, the Modena concern ceased to run a works team and subsequently concentrated on production of the 3500GT model, a refined, if exceptionally potent, Gran Turismo model.

The origins of the concern go back to the close of World War 1, when Ernesto and Alfieri Maserati, two of a family of six brothers, were manufacturing sparking plugs. Both were interested in developing a suitable car for racing and they began by modifying a model '25' Diatto. In time they evolved, in co-operation with Diatto engineers, a supercharged twin ohc straight-eight design, which was fast enough to take part in a number of Grand Prix events. Even if the Diatto achieved no notable success, Alfieri Maserati created a considerable sensation at the 1924 San Sebastian GP by drawing attention, with complete lack of tact but embarrassing accuracy; to the close similarity between the Fiat and Sun beam designs.

When the Diatto concern withdrew from racing, the brothers took over the 8-cylinder design and reintroduced it in 1.5-litre (62 x 88 mm) form under their own name; the marque Maserati made its first competition appearance in the 1926 Targa Florio and Alfieri drove it into 9th place. It was on the heavy side for a 1.5-litre car, but managed 104 mph over a flying kilometre at Bologna. A 2-litre version was prepared for the 1927 season and successes that year included a win in the 1500 cc class of the Tripoli Grand Prix and the Coppa Acerbo. For the first time, the make appeared abroad, in the Spanish Grand Prix on the San Sebastian circuit, but it retired for undisclosed reasons after three laps. Furthermore the brothers were already selling racing cars to private purchasers.

As was mentioned in the article on Alfa-Romeo, the vast majority of Grand Prix between 1928-30 were run on a formule libre basis and in the first year of this technically unproductive period, few new designs appeared. Maserati increased the size of the 1500 cc model to 1700 cc and a total of four of these were entered for the Grand Prix D'Europe at Monza, but all retired with mechanical disorders, as did the six cars entered for the Targa Florio.

There was little success for the make in 1928, but the 1500 cc model driven by Ernesto won its class in the Coppa Acerbo at 66.45 mph and Borzacchini and Ernesto Maserati took 2nd and 3rd places in the Susa-Mont Censio hill-climb.

A new 2-litre model appeared in 1929, but it was similar in most respects to its predecessor. The sole, privately entered 2-litre model retired in the Monaco GP, but Borzacchini and Ernesto were 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Bordino G P at Alessandria, while the former was again 2nd in the Tripoli GP.

It was not possible to stretch the dimensions of the 2-litre car any further and in an attempt to match the very fast large capacity sports cars, such as the supercharged Mercedes- Benz SSK model, Maserati produced a new model known as the 'Sedici Cilindri'. This consisted of two of the 8-cylinder 62 x 88 mm. twin ohc engines mounted side by side in a rather wide chassis. The two crankshafts were geared together by straight pinions and each engine had a 'Roots-type blower and a Weber carburettor. A single enlarged radiator was used. Dry weight of this unusual car was 19 cwt.

The 'Sedici Cilindri' made its initial appearance in the Circuit of Cremona" in 1929, where it was timed over 10 kilometres at 152.9 mph-before retiring! Its next appearance came in that year's Monza GP, in which a total of six Maseratis ran, and Alfieri drove the 4-litre car into 2nd place and made fastest lap at 124.2 mph. Nor was the 4-litre car at home on only the very fast circuits, for in the 1 930 Monaco GP, held over the notorious "round the houses" circuit, one held fourth place for most of the race, but eventually retired with engine trouble.

A new straight-eight

During the winter of 1929/30, a new 2.5-litre (65 x 94 mm) straight-eight grand prix car was evolved. Onfy too often has this model been dismissed as an enfarged version of the previous- year's 2-litre car. Although the new car followed previous Maserati practice in many ways, it incorporated a number of new technical features. The valves were operated by gear-driven twin overhead camshafts and here was a Roots-type blower and a single Weber carburettor. The crankshaft ran in four plain outer bearings and a central roller-type, with plain white metal big ends, tubular connecting rods and alloy pistons. Transmission was via a dry, thirteen-plate clutch and a 4-speed gearbox to a rear axle with electron casing. This alloy was also used for the brake drums, certain engine components and the gearbox casing, all of which were made for Maserati by fsotta-Fraschini. Compression ratio was 8: 1 and power output was 175 bhp at 6000 rpm-a modest enough figure, but sufficient to cope with the outdated P2 Alfa- Romeo and Bugatti.

Indeed 1930 was a successful season for Maserati, for the make scored a total of seven victories. This may be attributed partly to the fact that the brothers had managed to achieve greater reliability with the new car than hitherto, but equally important was the formation of a proper works team, with Boizacchini, Arcangeli and Fagioli as drivers. First success of the season was Borzacchini's win with the 16-cylinder model at an average of 91 mph in the Tripoli GP. This was followed very shortly by wins by Arcangeli and Fagioli in the Rome GP and the Coppa Ciano respectively. Halfway through the season, Arcangeli joined the Alfa-Romeo team, while Achille Varzi left Alfas to join Maserati and soon proved his worth by leading the team to victory in the Coppa Acerbo, to follow this up with wins in the Monza and Spanish Grands Prix.

The excellent performance of the 2.5-litre model overshadowed two significant events in Maserati history. The first was the introduction of an 1100 cc model, which finished 2nd and 3rd in its class in the Coppa Acerbo. This also used a supercharged twin ohc straight-eight engine, but with a capacity of 1078 cc (51 x 66 mm). The other was an abortive attempt at Indianapolis by Borzacchini, who drove there the 'Sedici Cylindri', without superchargers and suffering a considerable power deficiency as a result.

Although Maserati was expanding fast, the works team did not have such a s-uccessful season during 1931, mainly due to the introduction of the new Alfa-Romeo 8C and Bugatti Type 51 models. Among purchasers of production racing Maseratis was Tim Birkin and the 2.5-1itre and 1100 cc models were now available in sports trim; examples of both appeared in the 1931 Tourist Trophy and the former was driven by George Eyston into 8th place.

The most successful driver for Maserati during 1931 was Fagioli, who achieved a fair number of minor wins, but the concern was concentrating on the development of an enlarged (2.8-litre) and more powerful Grand Prix car and the team competed in only four Grands Prix. Fagioli was 2nd at Monaco and made fastest lap, while Biondetti/ Porento, driving a privately entered car were 3rd in the French GP held at Montlhery, where Fagioli again made the fastest lap before retiring. All the team retired in the German GP, but Fagioli and Dreyfus finished 1 st and 2nd at Monza in the Italian GP, where the 2.8-litre model was making its race debut. In the meanwhile, Birkin won the Mountain Championship and set a new Mountain Circuit record at Brooklands, while a 2.5-1itre sports model driven by Campari finished 2nd in the Irish GP and Tuffanelli and Bertocchi won their class in the Mille Miglia with an 1100 cc model.

Although in 1932, Fagioli finished 3rd in the Monaco GP and Whitney Straight, with his 2.5-1itre, privately-owned car, twice broke the Brooklands Mountain lap record, it was a disappointing year for Maserati, apart from the excitement and occasional success of a re-hashed version of the 'Sedici Cilindri'. This used two 2.5-litre engines, was exceptionally fast and barely controllable in the most skilled hands. Driven by FagiolijErnesto Maserati, it very nearly won the Italian GP, but as the result of a badly-organised pit-stop, eventually finished second to an Alfa-Romeo.'

An outright win for the new 16-cylinder car came a little later, when Fagioli won the comparatively unimportant Rome Grand Prix. In December of that year it was taken to Montlhery, for an attempt on the World's One Hour Record, on which circuit it should have been reasonably safe. But a few weeks previously, Alfieri Maserati had died, the factory was in a state of disorder, and the record attempt was very badly organised. For obscure reasons, an unknown and comparatively inexperienced driver by the name of Ruggeri was selected to drive the Maserati. Shortly after the record attempt started, Ruggeri lost control of the car at high speed and crashed with fatal results.

More new models

By the beginning of the 1933 season, the Maserati factory was reorganised and plans for the season were more am­bitious than ever. After experimenting with a very complex front-wheel-drive model, using Lancia-type sliding pillar front suspension with quarter-elliptic leaf springs, it was decided to use the existing grand prix model, but engine capacity had been increased to 2992 cc (69 x 100 mm) and power output was now 200 bhp at 5500 rpm. Hydraulic brakes were also now fitted, giving Maserati a distinct ad­vantage over their rivals as far as braking was concerned.

After a win by Campari in the French GP, Nuvolari joined the team, forsaking Alfa-Romeo, won the Belgian GP, finished 2nd in the Italian event and set a new lap record in the Spanish GP. Among private owners, Whitney Straight continued the good work with the ex-Birken 2.5 litre car, although he also provided Maserati with their biggest set-back of the season by defeating the 1100 cc Maserati in the Coppa Acerbo with his supercharged K3 Magnette MG;

Considerable changes were made in the 1934 grand prix regulations, which had previously been on virtually a formule libre basis for 1934-7. Henceforth dry weight of the car could not exceed 750 kilogrammes and there was a minimum race distance of 500 kilometres. There was also a new minimum width regulation, and apart from widening the frame to comply with this, no changes were made in the design for the new season. Unlike Alfa-Romeo, who raced purely for purposes of publicity and did not sell their cars to the public, Maserati's financial solvency was dependent on selling the cars they raced. Orders for 1934 included two 2.9-litre cars for Whitney Straight and similar models for Earl Howe and Philippe Etancelin.

Taruffi crashed the 5-litre 'Sedici Cilindri', while leading the 1934 Tripoli GP, finally writing off this cumbersome monster thereby and Nuvolari put himself out of racing for a couple of months with a nasty crash at Alessandria. In the main the works reputation was upheld by private owners, notably Etancelin, who was usually able to mix it with the Scuderia Ferrari Alfas and often finished in the first three. Whitney Straight now ran a full team of Maseratis and although these were mainly raced at Brooklands and Donington Park and made only an occasional Continental appearance, they achieved a large number of wins.

By the middle of the season Mercedes and Auto-Union had most of the teething troubles sorted out and were dominating the racing scene. At the Italian GP, a new 3.3-litre 6-cylinder car appeared and even if it could not compete on even terms with the German cars, it enabled Nuvolari to keep ahead of their national rivals, Alfa Romeo. After finishing 5th at Monza, Nuvolari took 3rd place in the Czech GP and won less important events at Naples and Modena. In addition a considerable number of private owners were doing well with the 1100 cc model, also now offered in 1500 cc form. In a different sphere of activity, Hans Ruesch set a world's standing-start-kilo metre record of 88.73 mph wit ha 2.9-litre model, beating the existing record held by John Cobb's Napier-Railton and bettering his own times made a year previously with the same car.

For 1935, Maserati followed Alfa's example and placed the works racing cars in the hands of a private team, the Scuderia Subalpina, which had Etancelin, Zehender and Farina as team drivers. Nuvolari joined the Alfa team once again. After experimenting with various types of independent front suspension, Maserati decided to make no design changes for the new season, apart from increasing engine capacity to 3.7 litres. The team was quite incapable of beating even their lesser rivals such as Bugatti or Alfa Romeo and the make's best performance was in the French GP, where Zehender took 3rd place.

Towards the middle of the 1935 season; a new Maserati appeared for which the Bologna concern had great hopes. The engine was a 4-litre V8 and there was independent suspension on all 4 wheels-by double wishbones and torsion bars at the front, while at the rear there were swing axles and semi-elliptic springs. The new model was an utter failure, proving fast but unreliable, and failed to complete a single event. In addition the 1100 and 1500 cc models were now receiving very stiff opposition from ERA. Varzi's car in the Mille Miglia was a 3.7-litre GP machine running in sports trim for. which the works had great hopes, but it retired with engine trouble when lying 3rd.

A useful six-cylinder

In an attempt to put the company back into the forefront of racing, Maserati concentrated for 1936 on two models only. These were the 4-litre GP car and a new 6-cylinder 1.5-litre model, the 6C. The Grand Prix car was still expected to prove a race-winner, but apart from a victory by Etancelin in the Pau GP at the beginning of the season, the V8 achieved no success and rather than continue the futile entries, which made Maserati look more and more impotent as failure succeeded failure, the concern quietly withdrew from G P racing.

The 6C model had a 1496 cc (65 x 75 mm) supercharged twin ohc engine, with independent front suspension by transverse arms and torsion bars, while at the rear a rigid axle and semi-elliptic leaf springs were reverted to. The 6C made its debut in the 1500 cc race at Monte-Carlo, where it was driven by Count Gino Rovere, "patron" of the Scuderi a Subalpina. After retiring there, two cars appeared at the Nurburgring for the Eifelrennen, where Trossi and Tenni took 1 st and 2nd places, defeating, among others, the ERA team. Trossi subsequently had wins at Modena, Milan and Lucca and ih the Coppa Ciano; on one or two occasions, Trossi met up with Dick Seaman's Delage, a 1927 car rebuilt for him by Ramponi but which proved considerably faster than the Maseratis. Success is a relative matter; whereas the Delage was a brilliant design handled by a driver who was potentially one of the world's greatest, the Maserati in comparison was a competent design competently handled.

The success of the new Maserati resulted in a considerable number of orders being placed by prospective private owners and several teams were formed specifically to race the Tipo 6C. The factory had resumed racing on its own behalf in 1937 with Dreyfus, Rocco and Siena as works drivers. After Dreyfus finished 2nd at Turin to an ERA, a long stream of victories followed, including wins by Dreyfus at Tripoli and Florence, Rocco at Acerbo and Campione; indeed in many events held on Italian soil, voiturette races often had an almost entirely Maserati entry and the number of wins scored would be tedious to numerate. It must be remembered that the make was meeting little opposition, but on the rare occasions when it came into conflict with ERA or the Delage, it, was frequently beaten.

Challenging German might

More as a token gesture to placate Mussolini's demands, than a serious attempt to rival the German teams, Maserati produced a grand prix car to comply with the new formula regulations for 1938, which limited capacity to 3000 cc for supercharged cars, but in fact provided a minimum weight/ engine capacity scale up to 4500 cc. The power unit was a supercharged 8-cylinder design (69 x 100 mm) being virtually two 4-cylinder engines placed in line, the 1 i-litre 4-cylinder version having already made an appearance in the 1937 Circuito di Lucca driven by Trossi. Chassis design was similar to the 6C and the model was known as the Tipo 8CTF. This proved nearly as fast as the Mercedes, much to everyone's surprise, but notoriously unreliable. The 8CTF first appeared in the Tripoli GP, driven by Trossi and Varzi and although Trossi made second fastest lap at 135 mph, both retired with transmission trouble.

Another new model was the 4CL (but only so known after the war), which had a supercharged 4-cylinder 1490 cc (78 x 78 mm) engine, with four valves per cylinder and generally known as the sixteen valve model. It had been intended originally to use two-stage supercharging, but this was not in fact adopted until much later. When the model was introduced, it is unlikely that quite such a prolonged racing career was intended for it. The model continued Maserati's excellent run of successes in the Ii-litre category, but new and very severe opposition was met with in 1939 from the rather faster Tipo '158' Alfa-Romeo. The Tipo 8CTF was not entirely forgotten, as two further examples were built for American drivers to use at Indianapolis. Driven by Wilbur Shaw, an 8CTF won the SOO-mile race in 1939 and '40 and in the latter year was joined by a revised version based on the 4CL, with square engine dimensions. It was known as the Tipo 8CL and was driven by Raoul Riganti, but retired early in the race.

In 1946 the Federation Internatioriale de l'Automobile was formed and laid down regulations for Grand Prix racing, limiting capacities to 1500 cc (supercharged) and 4500 cc (unsupercharged) thereby promoting the voiturettes of 1939 to the status of Grand Prix cars. Already Maserati were racing both 8CL and 4CL models, under the banner of the Scuderia Milano, with Villoresi, Nuvolari and Som­mer as drivers. The introduction of the new formula rendered development of the 8-cylinder car pointless, but Varzi and Villoresi took two cars to Indianapolis; only the latter managed to qualify and finished 7th after a lengthy pit stop to cure ignition troubles. Later that year ViIloresi won the Penya Rhin GP at Barcelona with the same car.

Development was henceforth concentrated on the 4CL model, but work was also proceeding on 1 i-litre and 2-litre 6-cylinder designs. Raymond Sommer appeared with the first two-stage supercharged 4CL in the 1947 Jersey Road Race and in due course most were so fitted. Later that year the 4CLT version with a tubular (as opposed to channel-section) frame appeared. To put it briefly, the Alfa Romeo Tipo 158 was still much faster than the Maserati, but only appeared in Grandcs Epreuves counting towards the World Championship. Maserati was much faster than other cars competing at the time, such as ERA and Lago Talbot, and their victories were numerous, as so many were entered by private owners, notably the Scuderia Milano' already mentioned and the Scuderia Ambrosiana.

Early in 1947 the Maserati brothers sold out to the Orsi family, who moved the factory from Bologna to Modena and henceforth strived to keep the name Maserati in the forefront of racing. The remaining Maserati brothers, Ernesto and Bindo, formed a new company entitled Officine Costruzione Automobile Fratelli Maserati, more familiarly known as OSCA. Although they have dabbled with cars and engines to suit most formulae, their principle output has been 1.5-litre sports cars, which, although seen from time to time in International events, hold much the same position in Italian National racing, as do Tojeiro and Elva in the UK. Maserati, on the other hand, forged ahead under the new management and until financial difficulties caused the make's withdrawal from competitions, held a more prominent position in GP racing than under the original set-up.

The last models produced by the Maserati brotliers were the 6-cylinder cars referred to a little earlier, which had much in common with the pre-war 6C design. Both were unsupercharged and it is clear that the brothers intended to participate with the 2-litre version in the formula 2 category starting in 1948. Initially the I.5-litre model appeared, in sports form, soon to be followed by the 2-litre version, which in saloon form ran-and retired-in the 1947 Mille Miglia. An open 2-seater, the A6G, appeared later in the year at Modena, where Ascari took 1st place. The A6G was a left-hand drive 2-seater, with cycle wings and spotlight set in the centre of the usual Maserati radiator grille. Capacity was 1984 cc and power output 160 bhp at 5200 rpm.

These models had, of course, been evolved by the Maseratis, whereas Orsi himself had different ideas and preferred to produce a revised version of the 4CL T. This model, more familiarly known as the San Remo, had lower, more compact bodywork, increased power o.utput and independent front suspension by a lower wishbone arm and a single upper arm, an extension of which operated a coil spring. Thus the A6G was raced only occasionally, but th ree cars were entered for the 1948 Mille Miglia, where all retired and later in the year, Bracco and Villoresi finished 1st and 2nd in the Dolomite Cup. One good reason for not racing the A6G too often was the introduction of the Ferrari Vee 12, which was rather faster than the Maserati.

When Alfa-Romeo withdrew from racing in 1949, Maserati still had the 1.5-litre supercharged VI2 Ferrari to compete against and only managed to win one grande epreuve, the British G P at Silverstone, although wins in lesser events were still numerous. By 1950 Alfa-Romeo had returned to racing and engaged for this season and the next in a furious duel with Ferrari, which left Maserati, despite an output of 240 bhp and full works backing, as an also-ran.

Many variations

Other experiments were taking place both at the works and elsewhere to increase the race-winning chances of the 4CLT. When the Milan Automobile Club offered substantial starting money for new contenders, at the 1949 Italian GP, the Ruggeri brothers modified two 4CL T /48 cars sufficiently to qualify and entered them under the name of Maserati Milan. Engine modifications were carried out by Mario Speluzzi, who had developed the 4CL T engine for use in speedboats, in which form the twin-stage supercharger boosted at 44 lb per sq in and power output was in excess of 300 bhp. The Maserati-Milan, like several of its forerunners, was very fast, but unreliable and both retired in their first race. For 1950 a new chassis was evolved, employing tubular construction with wishbone and torsion bar ifs. One car was fitted with a de Dion rear axle and the other had irs by trailing links. The team had insufficient finance to continue development of the cars and they were not raced after the end of the 1950 season.

Five cars with engines enlarged to 1720 cc were sent by the works to South America to take part in the series of races held in the winter of 1949/50, but this did not prove too successful a modification, and only two 2nd places were gained. Another experiment was to fit the A6G engine into the 4CL T/48 chassis, but the 'Achille Varzi' Stable, who tried it, found this none too successful. Perhaps the best effort was the Plate Maserati. Enrico Plate, who ran a team of 4CL T cars, considered that the chassis was basically a sound design, even if the power unit was completely outdated. He decided to rebuild the engines to comply with the formula 2 regulations and lighten the chassis wherever possible. The supercharger was removed and the cylinders bored out to 1980 cc (90 x 78 mm) considerably oversquare to ensure reliablity. Power output was 150 bh p at 7000 rpm on a compression ratio of 14:1. The wheelbase was shortened by 5 in and the tail was stubbier (a smaller fuel tank being fitted) and the nose flatter than on the San Remo cars. Reliability was, as usual the weak point, and weight was on the heavy side, but it kept the Plate team in racing, until Maserati produced some new cars for them to buy.

In 1951 Orsi induced Colombo to leave Ferrari and join the Maserati concern to design a formula 2 car in conjunction with Bellentani and Massimino. This new car, designated the A6GCM and patently of A6G ancestry, had a 6-cylinder twin overhead camshaft 12 plug 1988 cc (75 x 75 mm) engine, with triple horizontal Weber carburettors, intake ram pipes and twin exhausts. A low-set tubular frame was used, with a smaller diameter tubular superstructure to stiffen the frame and carry the body, which was similar in appearance to the San Remo. Front suspension was by coil springs and wishbones, with reversed quarter-elliptic springs at the rear. The first car was sold to the Brazilian Ecuderia Bandeirantes, but" a works team appeared at the Italian GP at Monza. Gonzales led the race for 36 laps, until obliged to refuel, when Ascari's Ferrari took the lead. The Maserati had made a dramatic impression and set joint fastest lap with Ascari at 116.61 mph.

The Plate team took delivery of new cars for the 1953 season and Baron de Graffenfried won the Syracuse G P on the model's first appearance. Now known as the A6SSG, engine dimensions had been revised to 72 x 76.6 mm, the body was slimmer and lower and larger fuel. tanks were fitted. Once again the Modena concern was back in the forefront of racing, constantly harrassing the hitherto unchallenged Ferrari team. This was especially evident at Rheims, where Fangio (A6SSG) and Hawthorn (Ferrari) engaged for lap after lap in a wheel-to-wheel battle, with Gonzales and Marimon (Maseratis) in close attendance. Hawthorn won by a second, but Fangio and Gonzales were second and third. Maseratis eventually established thei superiority in the Italian GP, where Fangio took first place ahead of three Ferraris.

In the meanwhile, a sports version, the A6GCS, with a somewhat detuned engine, giving 165 bhp at 6750 rpm and very handsome aerodynamic coachwork, panelled in 14 swg light alloy, had been introduced. For several years, the A6GCS dominated the 2-litre class of long distance sports car events, but the best known example in this country was the model imported by Sidney Greene for Roy Salvadori to drive. This reputedly cost the Gilbey Formula 1 sponsor £ 10,000, but it won most events for which it was entered, defeating such cars as the Ecurie Ecosse 'c' type Jaguars. Once the Lister-Bristol found its form, the Maserati was rather left behind, as, although more power.. ful, it was a little on the heavy side for British short circuit events. Subsequently Sidney Greene put the Maserati engine into a lightweight Cooper chassis and Lister themselves adopted a Maserati engine in 1956.

 The new formula

The 2.5-litre formula for 1954-7 suited most manufacturers as it was possible to adopt existing designs to compl. without too much difficulty. Maserati had achieved a fine pitch of development with their formula 2 car and did not make any drastic changes for the 1954 season. A new space frame was designed, using smaller diameter tubing and a de Dion axle at the rear in conjunction with a transverse leaf spring. Engine capacity was increased to 2493 cc (72 x 84 mm.) and initial power output was 240 bhp. Continuing their policy of selling the cars they raced, Maserati took orders for the new 250/Fl from Sidney Greene, Stirling Moss, Bira and the Owen Organisation, who wanted to race one, while the new BRM was being developed.

Fangio won the Argentine and Belgian GPs, but was then lured away to join the Mercedes-Benz team. Stirling Moss held 2nd place with his private entry in the British GP at Silverstone, but retired with a broken drive shaft. A few weeks later, team driver Onofre Marimon was killed in a practice crash at the Nurburgring. Orsi withdrew the team entries for the European GP and only private owners of Maseratis started. Moss held 3rd place behind two Mercedes until he suffered a severe engine 'blow-up'. Since the introduction of the Mercedes W196, neither Ferrari nor Maserati, despite the services of Ascari and Villoresi, who had been released by Lancia, pending the race-worthiness of the D50, were able to achieve any success. The sole exception to this was the British GP where Gonzales (Ferrari) won, as a result of the streamlined German cars proving unsuited to this circuit. Moss was invited to Join the Maserati team and his own car was painted in Italian red with a green noseband; his first race with the team was the Swiss GP, but he retired with oil pump failure. A little after at Monza, he led the race until 50 miles from the end, when an oil leak caused him to fall back, eventually finishing in 10th place by pushing his car across the line. The last meeting of the season was the Spanish G P, where Moss crashed in practice, severely damaging his own car. Another car was provided for the race, but Moss retired with a broken oil pump scavenge drive.

If Moss had not made such an excellent impression with Maserati, he would not have been invited to join the Mercedes-Benz team in 1955, but Maserati were understandably very annoyed when he left them. Mercedes won every Grand Epreuve, apart from the Monaco GP, which went to Trintignant (Ferrari). In the events in which Mercedes did not participate, Moss drove his private Maserati and Behra, who was now a team member, won' at Pau and Bordeaux. Whenever Mercedes have competed in Grand Prix racing, they have won and there is no doubt that Maserati would have had a much more successful season, but for their participation.

The Maserati concern diversified its interests considerably in 1955 by the introduction of two new sports-racing models. The first was the 300S, which had a 250/F1 engine, with capacity increased to 2991 cc (84 x 90 mm) and developing 260 bhp at 6500 rpm. This engine was installed in a multi-tubular space frame, with suspension similar to the grand prix car. Three Weber twin-choke carburettors were used and a 4-speed all-synchromesh gearbox was mated to a ZF differential. Dry weight was 16 cwt and with a high back-axle ratio, top speed was close to 165 mph. During 1955 the model was unable to compete with the Mercedes-Benz 300SLR, but it won the Bari, Supercortemaggiore and Venezuelan GPs. In 1956 it gained Maserati's first championship event, when Moss/Mendite guy wpn the Buenos Aires 1000 Kilometres race, and later in the season it won at the Nurburgring.

The other new sports car was a 1484 cc (81 x 72 mm) 4-cylinder twin ohc model, developing 130 bhp at 6000 rpm. In general design, the Tipo 150S followed the GP car, but was suitably scaled down and with aerodynamic bodywork. Driven by Behra, the 150S scored a notable victory in the Nurburging 500 kilometres race, where it defeated the works Porsche team. The model did not prove too successful, as it was rather on the heavy side. One was imported by Brian Naylor in 1956, but he was disappointed with its performance and installed the engine in a Lotus Mk Xl chassis. Indeed a significant event of 1956 was the placing of an order by Maserati themselves for a Lotus for design study purposes.

With opposition reduced to Ferrari and the new contender, Vanwall, Maserati had a satisfactory season during 1956, with Moss and Behra as team drivers. Moss started the season by winning the New Zealand GP with his privately-owned car, which was fitted later that year with SU fuel injection, but this did not work too well. With works cars, he won the Monaco, and Italian GPs, which, with placings elsewhere, made him runner up to Fangio (Lancia-Ferrari) in the World Championship.

After experimenting with a version of the 300S 3-litre sports car, with engine enlarged to 3.5-litres, Orsi realised that he would be unable to extract as much power as was desired and commissioned a completely new design. The result was the 4477 cc (93.8 x 81 mm) V8 450S, with a power output close to 400 bhp and a top speed in excess of 175 mph. Chassis design was similar to the 300S, but a heavier construction to cope with the increased power and there was a 5-speed gearbox. With so much performance, problems of braking and roadholding took a lot of sorting out, and the model was beset with far more than the usual teething problems. Nevertheless it won the 1957 Sebring 12 Hours race and the Swedish GP. An example was raced at Le Mans in 1957 with highly efficient aerodynamic coupe coachwork designed by Frank Costin; a novel feature was the absence of windscreen wipers, which the body shape was supposed to render unnecessary. This coupe was both exceedingly fast and noisy (especially 'the interior!) and retired with mechanical trouble early in the race. Regrettably, the 450S had not been ftilly developed by the time international sports car races were limited to cars of 3000 cc.

To revert to the Grand Prix scene, Fangio rejoined Maserati in 1957. With wins in the Monaco, French and German GPs and 2nd place at Monza won his fifth World Championship title. Towards the end of 1955, Orsi had decided that the 6-cylinder 250/F1 was in need of revision and work started on a new V12 cylinder design to be used in the existing chassis and this appeared for the first time in 1957. The engine had a capacity of exactly 2500 cc (68.5 x 56 mm), with a 60 degree Vee between the banks of cylinders, 24 sparking plugs and 12 carburettors. This was a remarkably complex, but compact power unit and 310 bhp was developed at 9700 rpm. Although the 250/Fl had used a 5-speed gearbox since the beginning of 1955, a new gearbox was designed to take best advantage of this engine, which gave its power only at very high revs, its working range being between 6000 and 10,000 rpm. Throughout the 1957 season, the V12 was extensively tested and appeared in practice at most events; indeed it was raced on one or two occasions, but was insufficiently developed to achieve any success.

Partly with a view of making the V12 GP engine suitable for running on straight petrol, which it was known would become compulsory for GP racing, a 3500 cc (73.8 x 68 mm) version of the engine was built and installed in a modified 300S chassis. This was driven by Hans Herrmann in the 1957 Mille Miglia, but retired early in the race with a holed sump.

Also by 1957, the Maserati factory had the A6G2000 model in limited production and this 6-cylinder 2-litre model was offered with a wide choice of bodywork by such builders as Allemano, Zagato, and Frua. This was joined by the 3500GT model at the Geneva Show, which used an enlarged version of the 300S engine and a large number of British made components.

Despite the income from the sale of production cars, at the end of the 1957 season, Orsi announced that the company could no longer afford to continue racing and shortly afterwards a change in the management took place. Although a works team has not since been raced by Maserati, motoring racing runs too deeply in the company's veins for it to be relinquished altogether.

A fair number of sports-racing cars have since been built by the concern and mainly raced by American teams such as Camoradi and Briggs Cunningham. These have been the "bird-cage" Maseratis, so called because of the space frame constructed from a multitude of thin tubes. The initial model had a 4-cylinder 2.8-litre engine and made its debut in the 1960 Buenos Aires 1000 Kilometres race. This was the Tipo 61, which achieved its principle successes at the Nurburgring, where Moss/Gurney won the 1000 Kilometres race in 1960 and Masten Gregory/Lucky Casner repeated this in 1961. Other versions, which subsequently appeared were the Tipo 60, with a 2-litre 4-cylinder engine, the Tipo 63 with an engine enlarged to 3-litres and a rear engined model powered by a 3-litre version of the V-12 engine. Furthermore the Equipe National Belge Emerysons used a revised version of the 1484 cc sports engine, developing 165 bhp.

The factory still concentrates on the 3500GT model, which is produced in larger numbers than the Ferrari 250GT and sells at a lower price. Power output is 220 bhp at 5500 rpm, but the optional Lucas fuel injection raises this to 235 bhp. Standard coachwork is by Vignale and Touring and the latter concern " have recently exhi bited a much more spacious 4-door version with a 4-litre engine. The GTI (fuel injectioil) 'Sebring' coupe by Vignale is priced in the UK at £5,117, with air conditioning £308 extra, and the performance is such for it to rank with Ferrari, Facel Vega, Aston Martin and Jaguar as one of the world's fastest production cars. Top speed is close to 140 mph and the GTI can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 8.4" and cover the standing quarter mile in 16". In addition the company has produced in very limited quantities a quite fantastic 5000 cc GT car, with an enlarged version of the 4t-litre V8 sports engine. This is a very expensive car to produce and its high price makes it a somewhat uneconomic proposition.

For thirty years Maserati was one of the most enthusiastic, if not always successful, supporters of racing. Even if present circumstances do not permit the company to take an active part in racing at the present time, there is little doubt that new and interesting competition designs will continue to emerge from the Modena factory.

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Maserati 3 litre 8 cylinder 1933
Maserati 2.5 litre 8 cylinder 1930
Maserati 6 cylinder 1936
Maserati 1.5 litre 4 cylinder Salvadori driving
Maserati 250F 2.5 litre driven by Moss
Maserati 300S sports cars
Maserati 2.5 litre F1 1956 Moss again
Maserati's famous birdcage
Maserati 4.5 litre V-8 cylinder
Maserati 3.5 litre GT being built 1964
Maserati 5 litre GT 1957