21 Ultimate Gifts: Monster of Modena

  • Maurice Khawam

Although its finances were precariously stretched by participation in various racing formulas, ranging from the grueling Formula One championship to hill climbs, Maserati nevertheless committed to participating in the 1957 Sports Car World Championship with a stable of then-new 450S models. Its loss to Ferrari in the series’ seventh and deciding contest would mark the end of Maserati’s racing program, until it was revived by Fiat and Ferrari four decades later.
 
Maserati devised the 450S to take advantage of the new regulations that allowed cars with 4.5-liter engines to compete for the championship. The car utilized a new V-8 and a chassis modified from the existing and successful 300S model. Upon hearing the rumble of its engine reverberating off the city walls, partisans of the marque dubbed the 450S the Monster of Modena. And a monster it was, for if its sound did not scare you, then certainly its performance would. Rated at 400 hp and tipping the scales at less than 1,800 pounds, the car indeed yielded a monstrous performance. The 450S could reach 60 mph in 5.6 seconds on its way to its terminal speed of over 185 mph—remarkable accomplishments for 1957.

The 450S being offered to a Robb Report reader through Boulevard Motorcar Co. of Moorpark, Calif.—chassis 4505—competed in three of the seven 1957 World Championship races: the Mille Miglia (where Stirling Moss drove it), the Nürburgring (where Moss and five-time Formula One champion Juan Manuel Fangio were behind the wheel), and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Alas, because of mechanical faults, 4505 failed to finish any of the three races. Moss broke the brake pedal at the Mille Miglia, and he and Fangio were sidelined by fuel tank problems at the Nürburgring, after they were given 4505 as a replacement for their first car.
   
When Ferrari claimed the championship title with its victory at the series’ final event, in Caracas, Maserati, whose financial burdens from racing were exacerbated by a bleak business environment for its machine tool division, officially pulled out of racing to concentrate exclusively on road car production.

The following year, the Sports Car World Championship rules changed again to permit only 3.0-liter engines, and consequently a number of the 10 450S cars that Maserati built emigrated from their homeland to the United States. Among them was chassis 4505, which, during a six-month period, Carroll Shelby drove in at least four races, including a November 1958 Palm Springs event that he won.

 

Price: $3.5 million. Contact: Charles Bronson (Boulevard Motorcar Co.), 805.523.3330.

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