The 1956 Maserati 300S which carried Juan Manuel Fangio to victory at the Portuguese and Brazilian Grands Prix will go under the hammer at Bonhams’ Quail Lodge auction on 18 August. Is is expected to fetch £4,600,000-5,400,000.
A favourite of Stirling Moss, who described the 300S as ‘one of the easiest, nicest, best-balanced sports-racing cars ever made’, the Maserati was built to take on larger capacity opponents from Ferrari and Jaguar, centred on an evolution of the successful 250F engine. Featuring a twin overhead camshaft cylinder head with tripe Weber carburettors, the three-litre 300S was capable of producing 260bhp.
Perhaps this 300S’s greatest performance advantage came from the man in the cockpit: Juan Manuel Fangio. Though contracted to pilot Maserati’s 250F in Formula One, the Argentine ace made his way into the firm’s sports cars via privateer teams. In 1957, Fangio won the car’s first documented race at the Mansanto circuit in Portugal, beating stiff opposition from Masten Gregory in a Ferrari 290MM and posting the fastest lap in the process. Fangio won again under Marciello Giambertone’s Scuderina Madunina banner later that year, proving unbeatable on successive weekends at Sao Paulo and Interlagos.
In addition to its incredible provenance and race history, the Maserati will prove a tempting proposition due to its versatility: equally capable on road as well as track, the 300S is eligible for a host of events ranging from the Le Mans Classic through to the Mille Miglia.
Bonhams doesn’t have a monopoly on incredible Italian road racers from the 1950s, with Gooding & Co announcing a 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Series I as one of its star auction lots.
Chassis ‘0468 MD’ was sold new to Guido Petracchi, who immediately took the car to Africa, where he raced it extensively. The car placed first in the Ethiopian Grand Prix before going on display at the Italian Pavillion during the Silver Jubilee Fair or Addis Ababa. It eventually went into storage until 1970, when it was discovered and bought by Colin Crabbe.
The Ferrari went on to grace the concours lawn of Pebble Beach in 1988, and was later sent to Maranello, where it was fully restored and given Classiche Certification. It is expected to sell for between $3,000,000 and $3,800,000.