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  Maserati 450S      

  Article Image gallery (123) Chassis (11) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1956 - 1958
Numbers built:10
Internal name:Tipo 54
Designed by:Fantuzzi
Predecessor:Maserati 300S
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:May 28, 2014
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Click here to download printer friendly versionUp to 1956, Maserati solely focussed on small-engined sportscar racing with engine sizes ranging from 1.5 litre in the 150S to the 3 litre in 300S. These were all fine racers but they were never in contention to take the overall lead against the much more powerful Ferraris, Astons and especially Jaguars. So Maserati set out to build an engine and chassis that was capable of beating the 'big-boys'.

The Maserati designers worked simultaniously on two different engines, a new 3.5 litre six cylinder and a 4.5 litre V8. A new chassis was designed to house both engines. The first engine was the six cylinder and it was taken out in a new, stronger chassis for the 1956 Mille Miglia. The 'six' proved underpowered for the heavy chassis and the combination was even outpaced by 3 litre 300S. By the fall of 1956, the V8 was ready and it was taken out at the practice of the Swedish Grand Prix.

Throughout the fall and winter of 1956, the V8 car was further developed and the engine output was raised from the initial 365 bhp to 400 bhp. With this immense figure, the quad cam, V8 engined 450S was the most powerful front engine sportscar. It was only surpassed by the Panoz prototypes in the late 1990s. The brakes were also revised to be able to cope with the enormous speeds expected from the 450S.

The 450S made its first appearance at the 1957 Argentinian 1000 km race where it was driven by the Grand Prix drivers Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss. In the early stages of the race there was no one who could keep up with the storming 450S. The all new and complicated engine was remarkably reliable, although it failed to finish. The drivers were let down by a failing clutch, which after some clutchless gearshifts, caused the transmission to seize. At Sebring in March of that same year the 450S was in top form. This time there was no mechinical failure stopping the Modena based team from scoring their first victory. With the 450S in the hands of Fangio and Jean Behra victory was had.

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  Article Image gallery (123) Chassis (11) Specifications