1957 THE EX JUAN FANGIO MASERATI 300S SPORTS RACING CAR
COACHWORK BY FANTUZZI
Chassis No. 3062
Engine No. 3069
White with black seats.
Engine: six cylinder in-line, alloy block and cylinder heads, twin overhead camshaft, two overhead valves, 2993cc, bore and stroke 84mm x 90mm. Compression ratio 9:1 250bhp at 6500rpm. Triple Weber 45 DCO3 carburettors. Twin plugs per cylinder, twin Marelli magnetos. Transmission: multi-plate dry clutch with four-speed rear-mounted transaxle gearbox, bevel drive rear axle. Chassis: welded tubular steel space frame with two-door, two-seater alloy competitions sports racing bodywork; Brakes: front disc, rear drum; Suspension: front - independent unequal length double wishbones, coil springs, hydraulic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar, rear - de Dion axle with tube in front of gearbox/final drive, twin forward-facing radius arms, transverse leaf spring above axle, hydraulic shock absorbers; Brakes: four-wheel hydraulic, two leading shoe, light alloy drum brakes with iron liners and transverse cooling fins. Right-hand drive.
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 1920's. Certainly the name Maserati has been upholding Italian honours for longer than any other sports and racing car manufacturer and yet it has always been a small family-orientated 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 pre-war Voiturette Racing Tipo 6CM with a 1500cc 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-litre versions had been sold.
In the meantime the Maserati brothers had left and set up their own OSCA organisation, and the factory was primarily involved in supplying privateers with their 1½ litre Supercharged 4CLT Grand Prix cars. The A6 engine was considerably improved in 1951 to form the basis of the new 2-litre 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 I to 2½ litres 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 I car and the development of work of the 300S was undertaken by Vittorio Bellentani. The engine capacity of the six-cylinder twin overhead camshaft engine had been increased to 2993cc with a claimed output of 250bhp. 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 tranverse 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-litre 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 epitomise the style of Formula I 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 coachbuilder 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 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 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-litre 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 Kilometre race ahead of the 3½ litre 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 Australian Tourist Trophy and coming second overall in the World Sports Car Championship.
This magnificent discovery is surely one of the most important sports racing Maserati's to come to auction in recent years. It is one of the three Work's Maserati Team cars that were exported to Brazil by the Team Manager, Gueruio Bertoui, in the late 1950's and is the actual car driven by five times World Champion, Juan Manuel Fangio, at Interlagos and at 'La Quinta de la Boa Vita' in Rio de Janero. He won both events (see photograph).
In 1958 the car was passed through the hands of a young local pilot in Rio and, almost immediately, into the ownership of the current vendor who raced it three times in 1959 - winning every race including Interlagos.
In the early 1960's, No. 3062 was put into storage in Brazil where it has remained for nearly forty years until recently discovered. It retains its original coachwork (which has been slightly modified in places) and comes with numerous spare parts including the original set of wheels and a spare crankshaft.