1955 Maserati 300S Sport CompetizioneCoachwork by Fantuzzi
The 300S was virtually a two seater version of Gioacchino Colombo's 250F Formula One monoposto, and it is the most fondly remembered of all 1950s sports-racing cars. Stirling Moss (who should know) reckons that it is the best sports car of the era and that is an opinion shared by many a fan who has nothing more to go on than its delicious lines, which were executed by Fantuzzi. It is a beauty and, unlike some beauties, it does not disappoint on closer examination.
The engine had a claimed output of 250bhp and was fitted to a chassis which closely followed the 250F. It had a ladder frame with large diameter main tubes, coil springs and unequal wishbone front suspension and, at the rear, a de Dion axle with a transverse leaf spring. Like its sister car, the 300S had a wonderful reputation for roadholding, but it was often at a disadvantage because it was a 3 litre car racing at a time when there was no upper engine limit. Despite that, it took a great many wins, including victories in World Championship events.
The model's first appearance in a major international race was at Sebring in 1955, where two private entries finished third and fourth, while Cesare Perdisa gave the 300S its first win in the Bari GP in May and followed that with victory in the Imola GP.
Maserati did not have a very active sports car programme in 1955, it was anyway also busily developing the 150S and 200S, but the year ended on a high note when Fangio won the first Venezuelan GP in a 300S. Since it was by two clear laps, and the field included a works Ferrari, it was no hollow victory. It showed the potential of the 300S, a potential which was to be realised in 1956 when Stirling Moss joined as team leader and Giulio Alfieri (later the designer of the 'Birdcage') took charge of technical development.
In the opening round of the 1956 World Sports Car Championship, at Buenos Aires, Moss and Carlos Menditeguy chased the 4.9 Ferraris until both retired with transmission troubles. The Maserati stroked home to a clear win with the Gendebien/ Hill 3.5 litre Ferrari two laps behind and Behra/ Gonzales third in a second 300S. It was Maserati's first World Sports Car Championship victory.
The second came in the Nürburgring 1000 Kms when Moss and Behra brought a 300S home first. They had taken over another car and Moss rejoined the race 66 seconds behind Fangio's Ferrari. He bit into the World Champion's lead at the rate of six seconds a lap and won by 26 seconds.
Other successes that year included wins in the Paris 1000 Kms, the Venezuelan GP, the Bari GP, the Australian TT and the Rome GP while Piero Taruffi brought a 300S home second in the Targa Florio. Maserati finished the season as runner-up to Ferrari in the World Sports Car Championship.
The car we are pleased to offer is the very first 300S built and is universally regarded as one of the few completely original, 'matching numbers' examples surviving. Three such cars had been ordered by Maserati Corporation of America on 27th December 1954 for an important client: renowned American sportsman Briggs S Cunningham (1907-2003). His substantial family means contributed to a charmed life which included front line motor racing, founding a well organised team and even building his own cars, not to mention successfully defending the Americas Cup. It is no surprise that Maserati considered Cunningham a sufficiently important customer to be at the front of the queue for the first batch of the marque's promising new 3 litre sports car.
The factory build sheets for '3051', the first 300S completed, are dated 12th February 1955 and show the detailed specification including red liveried Fantuzzi 'sport' coachwork, Jaeger instruments and Cibie headlights. The following day a memo from the President's office instructs the factory stores to prepare three Maserati 300S racing cars, chassis 3051/3052/3053, complete with five wheels each, assessories and tool kits, for dispatch via Maserati's own trucks to the port of Genova, from where they are to be shipped to New York for onward delivery to Maserati Corporation of America at 662 Main Street, Westbury, Long Island. A day later the factory stores delivery note for '3051' shows one new Maserati 300S motor car accompanied by five spare wheels, one tool kit, spare plugs and a plug wrench, plus various small tools.
Infact, of the three 300S chassis ordered by Cunningham the first was destined for his wife Lucy's cousin, gentleman driver Bill Lloyd, the second was for Cunningham's own team and the third was for his great friend, fellow racer Bill Spear.
Bill Lloyd eventually took delivery of '3051' in the early spring of 1955. He maintained a very busy competition schedule with the car over the following two seasons which included the following:
- 1st May 1955- Thompson Connecticut (SCCA Regional Main Event), 1st OA, Bill Lloyd #12
- 15th May 1955- Cumberland (SCCA National), 3rd OA, Bill Lloyd #32
- 4th July 1955- Beverly (Race 3 Preliminary SCCA National), 3rd OA, Bill Lloyd #21
- 4th July 1955- Beverly (Main Event SCCA National), 4th OA, Bill Lloyd- #21 19th July 1955- Mt. Equinox Hillclimb, 1st OA, Bill Lloyd #5
- 4th September 1955 Thompson (Main Event), 1st Class D (OA not known), Bill Lloyd #21
- 16th October 1955- Hagerstown Maryland (SCCA National Main Event), 4th OA, Bill Lloyd #16
- Early 1956- Mount Equinox Hillclimb, 1st OA, Bill Lloyd
- Early 1956- Thompson, 1st OA, Bill Lloyd
- 20th May 1956- Cumberland Airport (SCCA National Main Event) 1st Class/3rd OA, Bill Lloyd #30
- 24th June 1956- Elkhart Lake, 2nd Class (D)/7th OA, Bill Lloyd #16
- 7th July 1956- Beverly MA, 2nd Class (D)/7th OA, Bill Lloyd #16
- 19th August 1956- Montgomery NY (Race 4 Prelim.), 2nd OA, Bill Lloyd #58
- 19th August 1956 Montgomery NY (Main Event) 2nd OA, Bill Lloyd #58 (see photo in Burnside book, p. 38)
- Autumn 1956- Watkins Glen, 3rd OA, Bill Lloyd
- 8th December 1955- Nassau, DNF (crashed & quickly repaired) Bill Lloyd #30 (see Burnside book, p. 87)
- 9th December 1956- Nassau Trophy, 1st OA, Stirling Moss #30
After two intense years of racing including five first overall placings, Bill Lloyd parted with his faithful '3051' and it was acquired by another wealthy patron, Marguerite du Pont de Villiers Ortiz, a member of the Du Pont family married to Harry Clark Boden IV, whose business interests included the Jaguar dealership for Newark. Their drivers were Bark Henry and Fred Windridge, although Bill Lloyd also reappeared in the car occasionally.
- 18th August 1957- Montgomery AFB, 2nd OA, John Fitch #100
- 17th September 1957- Watkins Glen, 3rd OA, Bill Lloyd #16
- Autumn 1957- Louisville, Bark Henry #214 (??)
- 20th April 1958- Marlboro, Bark Henry
- 4th May 1958- VIR President's Cup, Bark Henry
- Summer 1960- Thompson(?), 1st OA, Fred Windridge
Around 1960 Mrs de Villiers Ortiz sold the now ageing Maserati and no further racing results are known from this period. By 1973, long into retirement, it had passed into the hands of long time US Maserati collector and historian Joel Finn and from him, via Michael Johnson of Belfast, Ireland it entered the long term ownership of Scotsman Angus Spencer-Nairn in Jersey, Channel Islands in May 1977. It spent the next two decades on the small island before emerging in the summer of 1999 to be sold first to dealer/ racer Klaus Werner in Germany and then to dealer Axel Schutte. Now ripe for restoration, it was entrusted to specialist Mario Linke in Cologne, after which it was acquired by collector Peter Wunsch in March 2000. Just over three years later Jos Koster in Holland bought the car, and from him it passed to the present owner.
He had been searching for a Maserati 300S for some time and his brief was for a 'no stories', all correct and 'matching numbers' car which could be prepared for safe and competitive historic racing without compromising its originality. This aim has been achieved and whilst retaining all its original components, '3051' has been competitive at the Monaco Grand Prix Historique, the Shell Ferrari Maserati Challenge, the retrospective Mille Miglia and, most recently, the Goodwood Revival. It has been beautifully prepared without regard to expense: there are maintenance and preparation bills on file during the current ownership for well over €200,000 and a spare five-speed gearbox is available by separate negotiation. Offered with much period and contemporary documentation, including racing passport and German registration, this classic front-engined Maserati sports-racing car is worthy of close inspection and absolutely 'on the button', ready for immediate historic action or road enjoyment.
It is a perfect example of one of Italy's all-time great racing automobiles.