It all started in 1956 when wealthy American businessman Tony Parravano hired the Italian manufacturer, Maserati to develop a new V-8 for use in the chassis of the Kurtis Indy. Maserati saw the opportunity to revive the project codenamed Tipo 54 and develop its own engine for use its sport-specific chassis. The original car carrying a V-6 engine with chassis number 3501 became the test bed for the car ordered by the American.
The 450S made its first appearance at the Swedish Grand Prix’s practice session in August 1956, stunning everyone with its tremendous acceleration and top speed. The car clocked the third best timing in the practice, but the underdeveloped car could not handle the vibrations resonating from the wrong firing order of the engine’s spark plugs. Afterwards, the 450S received a new chassis at Mondena factory.
The development continued and in 1957, the new production 450S was rolled out to have its maiden race at the 1000 km of Buenos Aires where it led the Ferrari twin-cam sports car by 10 seconds. The car suffered from a failed transmission and retired from the race. However, the car went on to claim its first ever podium finish in the 1957 Swedish GP. Sadly, FIA changed the rules next year, making 450S ineligible for the Grand Prix.
The car was quickly prepared for the 1956 Mille Miglia 1,000-mile race. Legendary driver Stirling Moss, along with Denis Jenkinson as navigator, experienced a brake failure and the car came to rest against a tree. Driver and co-driver walked away without a scratch, but the car had to return to the factory for repairs and further development.
Fantuazzi then came into picture when he designed a new body with a contoured design. The car also got a longer wheelbase to accommodate the new V-8 engine. The updated vehicle was tested in the Swedish Grand Prix in August 1956 where the car’s builders continued to tweak is new chassis and make improvements.
Click past the jump to read more about the 1956 Maserati 450S Prototype by Fantuzzi.