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, we believe, universally regarded as one of the most original, most active and most highly specified 300S Maseratis in existence today.
Factory archivist Ermanno Cozza confirms that chassis '3056' was built in June 1955 and acquired the following month by Signor Giannino Parravicini of Milan, the Italian agent of Spanish gentleman driver Francisco Godia Sales of Barcelona. The factory invoice for the car, dated 13th July, shows that it was supplied with five spare wheels, a complete set of tools and four different gear ratios, noting also the serial numbers of the Weber carburettors. The body is noted as being painted in red and white.
Maserati historian Walter Baumer (currently researching a book chronicling the 300S) suggests that because Godia-Sales enjoyed a close relationship with the Maserati factory (he had raced a 4CL in 1948 and also owned two 250Fs) his 300S received a works chassis. The car appears not to have been raced by him until the Swedish Grand Prix on 12th August 1956, with factory backing and Jo Bonnier as co-driver. They retired after 21 laps with transaxle problems. On 7th October Godia-Sales entered his 300S for the race at Montlhery, leading until the finish after Benoit Musy had crashed fatally over the wet banking in his 200S.
At this stage the Godia Sales 300S was updated with brake cooling ducts next to the nose grille, whilst two scoops on the bonnet were modified from heat venting ducts to air intakes and moved further forward. Another characteristic detail of this car was added, the two leather bonnet straps set at acute angles. Only '3077' shares this feature, whilst with the beautiful, wave shaped windscreen frame is shared with '3082'. The grilled side vents are unique to '3056', the only 300S to combine all three details.
Late in 1956 Godia Sales loaned his 300S to Juan Jover for the Grand Prix de Barajos in which he finished second behind a Porsche 550RS driven by a local.
During practice for the Nürburgring 1000 Kms the 300S was driven by both Fangio and Moss with no. '4'. For the main event both were scheduled to drive a 450S, but after losing a rear wheel Moss swapped back to the 300S which he brought home 5th overall. The last race of 1957 for Godia Sales was the Grand Prix of Portugal on 9th June where his finishing position is unknown.
Early in 1958 Scuderia Centro Sud entered the 1000 Kms of Buenos Aires and the Godia Sales 300S was one of a three car team which landed on the docks in Argentina. During practice it was driven by Fangio, who damaged it after spinning on grass and hitting a fence. After restarting the car and returning to the pits to have the steering checked, Fangio returned to the fray only to find that the engine was now overheating due to poor airflow through the battered bodywork. "I didn’t need Fangio for this" commented Godia Sales after Fangio retired on lap 24.
A month later Godia Sales started the Cuban Grand Prix in his 300S, finishing a disappointing 21st. Perhaps questioning if local repairs after Fangio's outing had been adequate, Godia Sales returned the car to the factory, missing its entry for the Nürburgring 1000 Kms on 1st June.
'3056' now received the latest works upgrades including a long nose without brake cooling slots, larger 450S brakes and the advanced five-speed needle roller bearing gearbox, the clear intention being to render the car competitive for long distance racing.
Godia Sales took his refreshed 300S to Le Mans for the 24 Hour race, again partnered by Jo Bonnier and equipped for the occasion with long distance driving lights, covered air intakes and race no. '1', but again the Hispanic-Swedish duo retired, this time due to electrical problems.
On 13th July 1958, at the fast Vila Real circuit in Portugal, '3056' was listed as a Works entry, perhaps run by Centro Sud as by now Maserati had officially withdrawn from racing. Godia Sales started on the grid next to Jean Behra and Stirling Moss, also in 300S Maseratis, and finished an impressive third behind these two seasoned professionals.
Later that year Argentine gentleman driver Roberto Bonomi contacted Maserati with a view to acquiring a 300S. Whether via the factory or directly, he purchased the Godia Sales 300S. Ermanno Cozza believes it was Fangio's agent Mr Gianbertone who supervised the sale. Bonomi had already driven a 300S at the Rafaela 500 Kms in Argentina the preceding May and in the Buenos Aires 1000 Kms in 1957, both of which may have convinced him of the need to have his own car.
By now repainted silver with blue Borrani wheels and with brake cooling slots re-opened in the nose for hot South American racing, chassis '3056' returned to action in the hands of Bonomi but it wasn’t long before Argentine customs caught up with him, the temporary import having expired. After a sojourn in the Buenos Aires customs depot (the car, not the owner), '3056' was sold to one Francisco Rimada, a spare parts dealer, in 1962 and road registered on 25th June that year. Rimada kept the 300S until 1968 when it was acquired by Francisco Fronduto near Buenos Aires, who painted it white with two red stripes.
Allegedly following advice from Juan Manuel Fangio, and in an effort to improve its performance, Fronduto fitted his 300S with wider wheels and tyres. Spares were luckily not in short supply as one of Fronduto friends was the Captain of the cargo ship 'Ana Costa' which made regular trips from Italy.
In 1971 Fronduto sold '3056' to collector Jorge Macome, an engineer in Buenos Aires who entrusted Carlos Rocha with its restoration. Fresh from this work and now painted red, '3056' won a gold medal from the CAS (Sports Car Club) and although the wider wheels were now removed, the wheel arch cutaway was still too high. Macome road registered the 300S as 'C374701' and it was featured in a lengthy article in the magazine Parabrisas Corsa in 1972. Baumer recounts that '3056' was used mostly by Macome for short, fast, noisy and dangerous 'illegal trips' on highways around his hometown, often accompanied by an unamused wife.
After 11 years Jorge Macome decided to part with the Maserati and in August 1981 he advertised the car in Classic and Sportscar magazine, selling it to dealer Horacio Mendizabal of Buenos Aires. From him it passed to collector Bib Stilwell in Phoenix, Arizona, who drove it at the Monterey Historics in 1988, by now fitted with a head fairing.
In 1989 chassis '3056' was purchased by the current owner and joined his well-known collection of historic Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Maserati motor cars. He decided to have the car completely restored by specialist Steve Hart in England. With '3056' returned to bare metal, Hart found traces of the older air scoops on the bonnet. Various chassis details convinced him that the car may have been used as a factory test bed, possibly with a V12 engine before delivery to its first private owner. Furthermore, traces of accident damage emerged consistent with Fangio's 'prang' in South America and the subsequent upgrade to full long nose specification. Details in the pedal box suggested the car originally had a centre throttle, possibly because Godia Sales was used to this feature on his early 250F.
The current owner has entered '3056' for the Mille Miglia and circuit events such as the Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nürburgring and the Monaco Grand Prix Historique. "A very original car" notes Walter Baumer, whilst MotorSport magazine, who tested the car in their February 2001 issue, compared it to other 300S Maseratis as: "the Sofia Loren of the lot, with its long-nose body and chrome side gills glinting in the low sun."