Maserati 300S #3067: Podiums With Moss And Fangio, Dirt Track Racing In South America, And A New Life In Italy
Photography by Andrea Casano
The formerly Bologna and now Modena-based manufacturer Maserati, and the great racing drivers Juan Manuel Fangio and Sir Stirling Moss were a legendary trio. It’s a total cliché; write something about an old racing car and some old drivers, call it some synonym of “epic,” and start going on and on about a time and place and context decades removed from even secondhand experience…
But when it comes to these three—or rather, these two, along with one car manufacturer made possible by the efforts of many—it’s hard to actually hyperbolize what they added to motorsport history. Tales get taller with time, but these tales were timed to fractions of a second. This is the art of racing: it’s full of chance and drama and human error and greatness but at the very end of the day it’s measured in the coldest way possible.
This means the drives that Fangio and Moss made in their respective Maseratis in the heyday of the brand’s racing efforts cannot be exaggerated, really. You can editorialize, clearly, but the lap times don’t change. The full details of each race have been extensively detailed many times already, but it’s interesting to see how they relate to the car photographed here.
At the 1956 edition of the 1000km of the Nürburgring, Stirling Moss took over driving duties of the one of the factory-entered Maserati 300Ses. He’d swapped in for Jean Behra, who had already done an admirable job of closing the gap on the leading Ferrari driven by Fangio and Eugenio Castellotti. Moss was still over a minute behind. He proceeded to not only shorten the gap, but close and then reopen it in the other direction. Moss’s Maserati finished almost half a minute ahead of the Ferrari. And he did this against Fangio, not just anyone. Not just someone. Juan Manuel Fangio!
That drive is rightfully cemented in racing canon alongside Moss’s 1955 Mille Miglia victory, but Fangio could also drive a Maserati race car. He was also in a similar set of circumstances, seeing as his performance took place just over a year later than his loss to Moss, and on the same track no less. It was the 1957 German Grand Prix, and although he wasn’t chasing down Sir Stirling this time (if only), Fangio was behind the wheel of a Maserati fighting a Ferrari for the lead.
Fangio entered the pits from the lead a little over the halfway point of the race, but an infamous mishap with a wheel nut saw him finally reenter the circuit more than half a minute later than usual, neatly canceling out the lead he’d built up before coming in.
There were 10 laps remaining, and Fangio was in third place, with the two front-running Ferraris out of sight. He went on to break the track—not any track, the Nürburgring Nordschleife—lap record nine times. He passed the two Brits in their Ferraris, Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn, one after another on the penultimate lap, and held them off to win. Fangio said it was the greatest drive of his life. If he was a different and totally arrogant person he might have said “of anyone’s life,” and he’d probably still be right.
If you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably wondering what this all has to do with this specific car pictured? First, the model. It’s a 1956 Maserati 300S, one of 26 300Ses built in the late 1950s. Moss drove a 1956 Maserati 300S in his spectacular performance at the Nürburgring when he beat Fangio that year. Fangio drove a Maserati 250F the year after. To make a medium-length story short, the Maserati 250F was an open-wheel GrandPrix/Formula One car, which was basically blended with the company’s successful A6G-series coupés to create the 300S, a competitor worthy of taking on Ferrari in the World Sportscar Championship (WSC) while the 250F battled them Formula One.
So Moss and Fangio accomplished their greatest feats in cars that were closely related, one of which was the same model as this specific one. And on that point, this 300S is chassis #3067, a car that was driven to podium finishes by a number of drivers in its racing career. Two of them happen to be, you guessed it, Sir Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio.
Thanks to our good friends at Pastorelli Classic Cars, Nicky Pastorelli and Joost Kejizer, who have overseen the restoration of this machine, I had the opportunity to photograph this piece of Maserati motorsport history on the street. “It was a great responsibility,” Nicky Pastorelli tells me, “This car has an important story, to say the least of who has driven it, and part of our job has been to bring it back to its former glory, going back into the past the only way we can, and being careful not to erase what is still left of it.”
The cynical response would be to suggest that any restoration erases the past, but the truth is that these cars are hardly ever that original to start with. These were tools, beautiful ones, but tools. The market for vintage Maserati Grand Prix cars didn’t exist in the 1960s, or in any decade following, like it does right now. These were crashed, repainted, rebuilt, shipped around the world, sent back to the factory, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, often before they were a few years old.
Restoring a car like this—it was found in the early 2000s in Brazil with an eight-cylinder Quattroporte engine swapped in, for instance—is about picking a point in that history and going back there with a mint car bearing as many original pieces as possible. To that end, they’ve done a great job transforming something that was once all but destined for obscurity. Not only that, the Pastorelli team races their 300S. As a car that’s been crashed and engine-swapped along the way, it’s hard to imagine giving it a life better than this.
And this car has had an eventful life already, starting from the first owner: the Portuguese Fernando Mascarenhas, Marquis of Fronteiras. Someone with an interest in cars and who has access to royal privileges wants to go racing: a tale as old as the automobile. After racing his Ferrari 750 Monza in the Portuguese Grand Prix in 1955, Mascarenhas was dissatisfied—presumably not for the very first time in his life—and later went to Italy in the spring of 1956 in part to order this Maserati through the services of Scuderia Guastalla, in Milan.
Mascarenhas entered with his new Maserati—painted in a green and white livery—in the Grand Prix of Porto, in Portugal still wearing the Bologna license plate 64331 from Italy. It was only a month after the car had been delivered, and the race resulted in an accident in which Mascarenhas was forced to retire. He died less than two months later after crashing his Ferrari 410 Superamerica on his way home from a presumably “fun night out.”
The Marquis’ story ended earlier than he’d expected, but his car was repaired and sent back to work. Chassis #3067 was returned to Maserati through Scuderia Guastalla, and was repainted in the team colors—red— before being sent to South America to compete in the 1000km of Buenos Aires in January of 1957. There, the car was to be driven by the duo of works driver Jean Behra and the local talent from Buenos Aires, Carlos Menditéguy, but after Sir Stirling Moss encountered brake issues with his own Maserati (a 450S), he was shuffled into #3067, which he drove to a second place finish, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process.
The following month, on the 24th of February, the Gran Premio de Cuba (Grand Prix of Cuba) was held, and now it was Fangio’s turn to drive #3067. That entry was organized thanks to the initiative of both Luigi Chinetti and Marcello Giambertone, head of the team that entered #3067 in the grand prix, Scuderia Madunina, as opposed to the Maserati factory team.
Factory team, quasi-factory team, privateer, or otherwise, any team with Fangio as the driver would have a chance for a win. During the race, #3067 engaged in a duel with the Ferrari 857 S of Alfonso de Portago in front of a claimed 150,000 or more spectators. However populous it was, the crowd would have undoubtedly been a lively one as the fans watched the Maserati and Ferrari lap the circuit on each other’s doors for the majority of the race. Reports say the cars were so tight to one another that it was like watching the two hero cars of a street parade in fast motion.
A turning point arrived when de Portago had to stop to have his Ferrari’s fuel system repaired, while Fangio continued his pace thanks in part to the six cylinders of the Maserati having a massive 230-liter tank to drink from. In the end, Fangio crossed the finish line in first while his Spanish rival de Portago rejoined the race to finish in third. Carroll Shelby ended up taking the second step on the podium, driving a Ferrari 410 S. Of the eight cars that finished the race, six were Ferraris.
In the following years, Maserati 300S #3067 remained in South America, racing with numerous drivers in the major events on the continent until January 15, 1961, when, during the fourth edition of the 500km of Interlagos, it was involved in an accident that saw the car go into storage. Sometime prior to this, it had received a Chevrolet V8 engine, and sometime during its storage it was rebodied with the outer shell of another 300S before a long period of stationary disuse in the back of a workshop once again.
At some point it was claimed that this car was racing on local dirt tracks. It was exhumed from its corner later on, once again, reportedly with a first-series Quattroporte V8, before it underwent two different restorations—the first of which saw an authentic 300S straight-six in the engine bay once again. Under the more recent care of Pastorelli Classic Cars, #3067 was returned to its spec from the Fangio victory at the 1957 Grand Prix of Cuba.
Nicky Pastorelli explained that although the mechanical condition was better than expected, the engineers and mechanics still went through the car, from the bare chassis to the bodywork (thanks to the help of Maranel Classic of Modena, and the coachbuilders at Ariston, respectively), all the way down to disassembling the drivetrain to its bolts, finally restoring and rebuilding everything to ensure that this car could live up to its original purpose.
It won’t be tested or pushed as hard as Moss and Fangio did in the late 1950s, but it isn’t running parade laps either. For proof, it won its class event at the Goodwood Revival last year, and that’s about as tough and rough as racing gets for a grid of cars worth a few dozen million dollars.
It would look quite nice in a living room, but it looks better on a race track. Next up for this world traveler is the historic version of the Monaco Grand Prix. In other words, this car is not a bad second, third, fourth, or any life.