Maserati 450S

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Maserati 450S
1957 Maserati 450S - fvl.jpg
1957 Maserati 450S at Palm Springs 2010.
Overview
Manufacturer Maserati
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door, convertible
Layout FR layout

Maserati 450S (built 1956-1958) were nine racing cars made by Maserati of Italy, and used in FIA's endurance World Sportscar Championship racing.

Their design started in 1954 (thus the internal designation «Tipo 54») led by Alberto Bellentani and Guido Taddeucci. Their intent was to use larger engines than those then used by Maserati.

One was the 3.5-litre to be used in Maserati 350S, the other to be used in the 450S, had a 4.478-litre short-stroke V8 engine with four Weber carburetor 45 IDM (400 bhp (300 kW) at 7200). The tubular chassis and body was designed by Valerio Colotti, and inherited much from the Maserati 300S, using De Dion (mechanical) and 5-speed ZF gearbox, and a suspension with double wishbones and coil springs.

1957 450S Costin/Zagato coupe at Scarsdale (2006).

The 450S was raced in the 1957 World Sports Car Championship where its principal rivals were Ferrari with its 290 MM, 315 S and 335 S models, the Jaguar D Type and the Aston Martin DBR1.

Chassis #4501 had a 4.2-litre V8, based on the prototype raced at 1956 Mille Miglia and 1956 Swedish Grand Prix. A clutch failure after a very promising start in the Buenos Aires 1000 km by Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio prevented the car from commencing the season with a win. The car was redesigned to a coupe drawn by Frank Costin of England, constructed by Zagato, and raced once again by Stirling Moss at Le Mans where it failed to finish. Later, the car was restored by Medardo Fantuzzi of Maserati (new chassis #4512); later by Faralli & Mazzanti.

Chassis #4503, driven by Juan Manuel Fangio and Jean Behra, won the 12 Hours of Sebring. It was then crashed by Jean Behra during practice for the Mille Miglia and didn't start the race. Repaired it was again crashed by Behra at the Le Mans 24 Hours before it won again in the hands of Behra and Stirling Moss in the Swedish Sports Car Grand Prix. In the final race of the 1957 season the Venezuelan Sports Car Grand Prix it was destroyed before being later rebuilt.

Chassis #4505 driven by Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson raced in the Mille Miglia until the brake pedal fell off. At the 1000km Nürburgring it was driven by Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio and recorded another DNF when the wheel dropped off. The car was later sold to Temple Buell, who drilled it to 5.7-litre, and later to Jim Hall.

The engine in the Maserati 450S

Chassis #4507 was driven by Stirling Moss and Harry Schell at the Venezuelan Sports Car Grand Prix where it was destroyed in a fiery crash that also involved chassis #4503.

Carroll Shelby standing next to a Maserati 450S that he raced in 1957.

Maserati finished the season as runners up to Ferrari in the World Sports Car Championship, its two victories at Sebring and Kristianstad, together with a second place at Buenos Aires and fourth in the Mille Miglia by its sister 300S giving Maserati 25 points. Unfortunately for Maserati this was 5 behind Ferrari's winning total of 30 points gained from victories at Buenos Aires, the Mille Miglia and Venezuela together with second at the Nurburgring and Sweden.

Other cars were sold: Chassis #4502 to Tony Parravano, #4505 to Jim Kimberley and #4506 to John Edgar. Chassis #4509 and #4510 was sold to the US, some having engine expansions to 5.7 and 6.6 Litres and used in SCCA races by Carroll Shelby, Jim Hall, Masten Gregory, Walt Cline and Ebb Rose. Chassis #4512 was originally the #4501 (see above).

Between 1956 and 1962, the 450S had 119 appearances, 31 of these being victories.

Literature[edit]

  • Willem Oosthoek & Michel Bollée, Maserati 450S The fastest sports racing car of the 50's—A complete racing history from 1956 to 1962, 2005.