Page 1 of 2 Next >> Maserati was commissioned by ice-cream manufacturer Eldorado Sud in 1958 to create a car suitable for the second edition of the Race of Two Worlds, which was also known as the 500 Miglia di Monza or Monzanapolis. Even though the Italian manufacturer had officially withdrawn from competition at the end of the previous season to focus on road car production, this was a job too lucrative to decline. What also helped was that most of the new car's major components, including the engine, could be borrowed from earlier projects.
First held in 1957, the Race of Two Worlds was a bold attempt to bring the European and American racing cultures together again. Even though the Indy 500 had been part of the World Championship for many years, the last time a European car had managed to even qualify for the race was a Ferrari in 1952 with Alberto Ascari at the helm. Since 1955, the Monza circuit had been extended with an oval much like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which made it the perfect venue to invite some of the top American single seater racers to race in Europe. Run under the American regulations, the Indy racers had a clear advantage and dominated the first edition with Jimmy Bryan taking top honours.
With back-to-back victories in 1939 and 1940, Maserati was the last European manufacturer to win the Indy 500. Their more recent experience was an engine deal with Italo-American entrant Tony Parravano, who apparently ordered two engines built to the Indy regulations in 1957 and 1958. Based on the mighty V8 used in the 450S sports racer, this 4.2 litre engine also formed the basis for the new Race of Two Worlds Maserati. Compared to the sports car engine, the all-alloy V8 sported a slightly shorter bore, while retaining the same stroke. Equipped with twin plugs per cylinder and four twin-choke Webers, it produced around 450 bhp. It produced so much torque that a two-speed gearbox sufficed; first gear was only used to take off from the pits.
In an attempt to improve the weight balance, the engine was mounted 90 mm off-set to the left in the steel tubular chassis. This was closely related to the spaceframe used in the final evolution of the 250F Formula 1 car. The front suspension consisted of double wishbones while a DeDion axle was used at the rear. The drum brakes were identical to those used on the 250F. The car initially featured conventional wire wheels. These were quickly found to be unable to the high speed cornering loads and were hastily replaced by copies of the Hallibrand alloy wheels used by the American teams. The rolling chassis was clothed by Fantuzzi with an alloy body that combined a 250F style nose with a tall tail, which sported a stabilising fin. Page 1 of 2 Next >>