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.
Maserati stored the modified chassis number 3501/4501 as the evolution of Type 54 chassis was nearing its final production version. The chassis was sold without an engine in 1965 to Tom Meade who further sold it to F. Moss who then delivered it to the Modenese shops of Leoni. In a bid to make the 450S roadworthy, it received a Corvette V-8 engine along with Ferrari Tipo 510 five-speed transaxle and a windshield from Ferrari 250 GT cabriolet.
The car was imported to U.S. where it was sold to Gerald Satterfield. Then in 1981, an Italian collector found the 450S prototype and re-imported it back to Italy.
The start of restoration work started with the discussion of which form the car should be returned to. It was concluded that the car will take the final form used by the factory and will be restored to 3501/4501.
The restoration was completed in 1987 after which car was rarely driven and has now become one of the most valued historical vehicles.
With flowing lines all over the body, it becomes difficult to find a straight line on the car. It looks timeless and can put most of the cars from modern era to shame. The front grille has the huge Maserati logo on it along with round air-scoops on the both sides. The huge headlamps are placed on the bulbous platform that runs along the length of the car. A big air intake sits right in the middle of the bonnet.
From the side, the huge two-into-one exhaust manifold catches the eye on either side. The silhouette of the vehicle is strong and muscular with air vents on the lower rear wheel arch. The spoke wheels look elegant and beautiful. The rear overhang looks brilliant with the its four gills.
The rear has been designed in a very simple yet in an exquisite way. The circular brake lamps carry chrome rings around them.
From the inside, every small detail is just impeccable. The three-spoke steering wheel has six rivets on it with a Maserati logo sitting in between. The three chrome bounded dials sit just in front of the steering wheel and looks elegant. The red seats complement the fierce power and everything in it has a sense of intimacy. The bare chassis, the naked gear level, and metal perforated pedals provide a sense of closeness.
The 450S prototype is powered by 5,657cc V-8 engine. The cylinders are inclined at 90 degree to each other. The naturally aspirated engine churns out massive 520 horsepower. The fuel comes from four Weber 45 IDM carburetors. The engine’s power comes through a five-speed transaxle. The long wheelbase of 2,360 mm (92.9134 inches) keeps the car stable during straight line acceleration.
Estimated Auction Bid
With a vehicle so rare, RM Auctions can expect anything from $5.5 million to $8 million U.S. dollars. It will really take a lot of money along with even more courage to own this unique piece of history.
With only four such cars made in the history, the Ferrari 335S can be termed as true rival of Maserati 450S prototype. Mounted with a V-12 engine displacing 4,023 cc that produced a maximum of 390 horsepower, the 335S enjoyed a win at the Venezuelan Grand Prix. The Ferrari 335S looks brilliant with amazing attention to detail and also carries a share of history with it.
Photo by: tech-racingcars
The 450S holds a significant place in the history and development of Maserati V-8 engines. The car looks beautiful and has been restored with keeping every small detail in mind. The car carries the original engine sourced from Maserati and looks as pristine as if someone has teleported the car through a time-machine. The car will fetch huge amounts of money but and will need great attention and care. It will surely make the owner proud as they own an important piece of history.
- Exquisite design
- Restored perfectly
- Powerful engine
- Weak Transaxle