1956 Maserati 300 S
- Winner of the 1957 Cuban Grand Prix with Juan-Manuel Fangio
- Raced by Grand Prix and Sportscar racing greats including, Juan-Manuel Fangio, Sir Stirling Moss, Jean Behra and Carlos Menditeguy
- Delivered new to Fernando Mescarenhas through Scuderia Gustalla
- Owned and raced by Maserati Spa
- Eligible for the word's greatest historic motoring events including the Le Mans Classic, Mille Miglia Storico and the Monaco Historic Grand Prix
Period history of Chassis 3067 by Walter Baumer, International Maserati Research
The first official owner of #3067 was Fernando Mascarenhas, Marquis of Fronteiras, from Lisbon, Portugal.
The Milan-based Scuderia Guastalla commissioned the 300S on Mascarenhas’ behalf on March 31, 1956. The car was built on a customer chassis, painted green with a white engine bonnet and a white stripe on each side of the body, and completed on May 25.
After testing, the car was delivered on June 1 to Scuderia Guastalla who also wired the payment of Lira 6,695,000 to the Factory. This short two-month build period suggests that the assembling of the car had been started before a customer was available, and perhaps confirms an earlier usage.
A green and white 3-liter Maserati was very unusual, and it is not known why Mascarenhas selected this color scheme particularly as, according to his son Ferdinando Mascarenhas Jr., the family colors are gold and red. From Modena the car was shipped to Porto in Portugal.
Mascarenhas also had a smaller Maserati Tipo 150S that he entered there in the IV Taca Cidade de Porto on June 16, and then one day later he had his only race in the 300S in the II Grande Prémio de Porto accompanied by four other 3-liter Maseratis. 3067 appeared in Portugal with Italian registration BO-64331, a factory test plate number. The car was involved in a smaller accident in practice as it shows some coachwork damage on the rear end. In its brief appearance in Portugal, the car was maintained by the private workshop of Palmer & Morgado in Lisboa, who also had some Ferraris amongst their other customer cars.
Mascarenhas race number was 7. I contacted Senor Palmer Jr. Via Masarenhas` son Fernando in November 2009. He remembered the car very well and told the story that Mascarenhas made something wrong later in the race and crashed the car by rolling. Nothing happened to its driver, but it was clearly a DNF for 3067.
It was the only race of Mascarenhas in his 300S. Unfortunately, he was killed near Madrid in the early hours of August 4, 1956. He was driving his Ferrari 410 SA on his way to the Grand Prix to the nearby Barajas Airfield and called his friend Leopoldo Villamil. Both went for diner and later to a Flamenco bar that was close to the circuit. On the way home and with few drinks they had a private race and crashed in a roundabout. Villamil, who was driving his own Pegaso crashed also seconds later and ended upside down but survived.
It is unclear if 3067 was repaired since it crashed in Oporto but I doubt that. Mascarenhas’s son told me that his mother sold the 300S and the 150S immediately after his father’s fatal crash to discourage any interest that her eleven year old son might have in cars but unfortunately Senora Mascarenhas could not remember where they went. My theory is that both Maseratis had been kept in the Milan premises of Scuderia Guastalla. To whom else could she sell it so quickly under those sad circumstances, and there is no evidence of a privately-owned 300S outside a race circuit in Italy or Portugal at that time. I assume that the car got some upgrades after the crash in Portugal and was converted by the Factory to semi-longnose specification.
All racing teams were traveling south for the 1000 km of Buenos Aires on January 20, 1957, and Maserati had high hopes for its 400hp racer, the mighty 450S that had been a big success the previous year.
American car hunter Jay Felter believes that #3067 was given to Moss, Behra and Mediteguy in Buenos Aires and I agree with him. But as this race was a Factory entry, it seems that Guastalla kept the car not very long after Mascarenhas death and sold or loaned it on to Maserati S.p.A. Prior to the race Jean Behra took the American journalist Brooke Burwell around the circuit as a passenger in a 300S. Her feature in Autosport in February 1957 shows photographs that she took, and also pictures of her with the Frenchman in the car. The identity of this car has been the subject of some debate as it showed some differences to the car Moss, Menditeguy and Behra actually raced.
Both Fangio and Moss drove the 450S, but during the race the brakes developed problems and all hopes of the Maserati team were then focused on the Behra/Menditeguy 300S. Moss took over and furiously drove #3067 to second overall. Behra and local hero Menditeguy partnered him on the podium. The race's fastest lap of 3:36 was credited to Moss, beating the big V8's best time by one-tenth of a second. This successful 300S had been entered as a Factory car and it was most likely loaned or sold directly after the race to Giambertone for Fangio who drove #3067 to victory on Cuba on February 24, 1957 with race number 2, about one month after Moss and Menditeguy achieved their second overall with it in Buenos Aires. This race in
Argentina was as an official Maserati entry, while Cornacchia’s friend Marcello Giambertone, head of Scuderia Madunina and Ferrari US-Impressario Luigi Chinetti, organized that on Cuba. The circumstances of the Grand Prix of Cuba became very confusing and were affected by a dock strike in New York harbour.
The vessel, USS Independence had left Genoa, Italy with three brand new Ferraris, the entire Gordini team, and no less than seven Maseratis on board, and reached the US East Coast when someone fell overboard as it was entering New York harbour. The ship was delayed in an attempt to find the missing person but eventually docked just as the strike began and was unable to unload the cars. After ten days in the harbour, the vessel returned to Italy with all its cars still on board. All attempts to get the cars in New York unloaded remained unsuccessful and a member of the New York Port trade union threatened Giambertone, who was trying to get the vessel free, with a knife.
Consequently, all the Italian cars on the grid in Havana came from privateers. The car used by Moss and Menditeguy in Buenos Aires and then by Fangio in Cuba had the grilled air-outlets in both sides that indicated a semi-longnose car of the middle series and this would match the looks of the sister car #3066 which had the same details. Historian Joel Finn wrote in his book about the Cuban races: „...not only was Fangio paid handsomely to appear as an entrant, the CSC (CSC (Cuban Sporting Commission) backed his manager Giambertone, in the purchase of this 300S. The actual ‘purchaser’ in the name was Fangio with the Cuban Automobile Club (the event organizers, author) paying the $16,000 price up front with funds from the CSC. If the car was not damaged while in Cuba, the Cuban club would receive a rebate of $13,000 on the transaction. In effect, assuming nothing went wrong, the club was renting the 300S for $3,000 for Fangio to drive“.
Along with the car many spare parts had been send to the Caribbean island. With race number 2, the Argentinian Master drove #3067 against Alfonso de Portago and his Ferrari 857S in a one-hour battle of mostly side-by-side racing, which delighted the 150,000 spectators around the circuit. De Portago, while leading, had lapped all other cars in the race except the 300S of Fangio who was increasingly challenging when he was forced to pit due to fuel system problems. The Spaniard lost several minutes and saw Fangio taking the victory in front of a highly enthusiastic crowd, collecting $4,000 for the win and $1,000 for his appearance. De Portago did manage to return to the race and amazingly finished third overall. The key of Fangio`s success in Cuba was the more fuel-efficient engine of the 300S taking advantage over the Ferrari Monzas, 121LM and the 4.9 Liter.
As Joel Finn wrote in his book Caribean Capers “…only a few of the competing cars could carry enough gasoline to go the distance without refueling. One of those that could, as it had been fitted with long-distance tanks holding approximately 60 gallons (about 230 liters) of fuel, was Fangios 300S”. Maserati team manager Nello Ugolini knew about that and advised his star driver to take it easy in the early stages of the race to safe fuel, as it might be needed at the end if the race turned into a hard battle.
Photographer, Tom Burnside, took pictures of the Fangio car, a semi-shortnose with an open rear bonnet, in the race which are published in his book American Racing; Road Racing in the 50s and 60s showing the Argentinean while in the pits. In comparing these with pictures of the Moss/Menditeguy/Behra Buenos Aires 300S, all the photographs show the same car, matching in all details, except that in Cuba it had a Scuderia Madunina sticker on top of its right fender. Giambertone had negotiated a sponsorship contract for his star driver Fangio prior to the race in Cuba and confirmed this with a letter to ESSO Standard Oil, Devisión Cuba, dated February 20, 1957. This contract included 200 gallons of fuel for all three drivers Madunina had entered, Fangio, Pires with his 300S and Alessandro DeTomaso with a 150S. Sponsor Esso published an advert in the Cuban newspaper Diario De la Marina from February 26, 1957 with Fangio standing behind #3067 while it was refuelled by a service man at a gas station.
There was a suggestion that Fangios car in Cuba might be #3071. In the Burnside pictures the fuel and oil tanks can be seen, and there is also a third filler cap on the rear body behind the co-driver’s seat, a detail #3071 never had. In addition, the Cuban car had grilled air-outlets in both front fenders, and asymmetrically-positioned air scoops in the bonnet, one an air-intake and the other next to it, an air-outlet, a detail not seen on any other vintage 300S photographs. When #3071 appeared at Sebring only thirty days later, it had sharked air-outlets. There was just not enough time between races to change these details and also transport the car from Cuba to Sebring, so surely 3071 was not the car Fangio drove in Cuba in 1957, as was claimed in later years.
Motor Racing, the very well-informed magazine, featured the Cuban race and mentioned in its issue of April 1957 that "...Fangio ... entered the race with his own private Maserati he had bought after winning the Caracas race in it." Fangio had driven 3054 in Caracas on November 6, 1955, and so this car would have been an old warrior at the Cuban event in February 1957. It is unlikely that the most famous driver of his time, who always wanted the best cars, still owned an outdated 300S and so the magazine is wrong here.
The car came back to Italy and was next painted yellow with two dark longitudinal stripes over its body and with “Castrol”-sponsorship-logo and was driven by Brazilian Chico Landi late in December 1957 in the Grand Prix of Sao Paolo where he finished in third place.
One week later, on December 8, it was Italian Gino Munaron who took 3067 to second place in the Grand Prix of Rio de Janeiro behind Fangio in another 300S. 3067 still has the curious asymmetric openings in its engine bonnet. Brazilian expert Napoleao Ribero told the story that Landi many years later mentioned to his friend Jan Balder who was a racing driver in the 60ies, that 3067 had been sabotaged.
According to Landi, he had managed to perform better than Fangio in free practice and as both cars were stored in the same garage the Italian mechanics who serviced the car, drained the carbs on 3067. He claimed that changing the "Gigli" with Fangio`s car (see the #3069-chapter), causing loss of performance and so he had no interest to drive the first heat and used a Porsche 550 in that race while 3067 was then given to Gino Munaron. The US magazine Sports Car Quarterly featured in its 1958 spring issue a report by Gianni Lurani about "Why Maserati REALLY quit!" racing. An unknown photographer in the race department of Officine Maserati took two pictures for that story. The first shows three Tipo 300S side by side with exactly the same paint scheme – most likely yellow with two dark longitudinal stripes.
The car in the middle of the three is in the foreground of the second photograph and shows all the details of the car Moss (in Buenos Aires), Fangio (in Cuba) and Landi (in Rio) drove, including a view of the strange bonnet openings, the round front screen and the grilled air outlets in both sides. Magazine articles in those days, without the communication facilities available today, needed more than three months to be published and so it is likely, that these pictures were taken late in 1957, probably prior to the campaign of these three cars together in South America for they look quite freshly painted. There must have been a racing team which had three 300S under its banner, painted with the same livery. Was it Guastalla? This team was known to have two 300S cars, 3069 and 3070. If so, then they owned a third car: chassis 3067.
It had some further races in South America and was most likely sold on by Giambertone to a private owner who was according to unconfirmed reports, Jose Gimenez Lopes. Around that period 3067 lost its original engine and received a Corvette V8-motor.
A picture of a very light coloured 300S with race number 87 in the 500 km Interlagos on September 7, 1961 came to light. Italian Antonio Versa who was also known to drive a 250F in South America drove it. This picture, from the July 1961 issue of the magazine Quatro Rodas, clearly shows the exhaust on the right side of the car confirming the presence of the V8 engine. It also now shows the outlets in the style of the interim-300S, but with longnose specifications.
Versa drove the V8-equipped 3067 in some further races in 1960 and in 1961. Little later the car was in the hands of Luiz Americo Margarido, who sold it on to Arnaldo Pacini who entered it in the Circuito da Barra da Tijuca on November 6th 1960 where he finished on 9th position and on January 15th, 1961 in Interlagos.
Waldemar Santilli was an amateur racer, mechanic and garage owner from Sao Paulo. He was invited by Brazilian Arnaldo Pacini to race the IV 500 Kilometers of Interlagos. Pacini had entered two cars: the Fangio`s Cuba 300S 3067 that had been purchased from Luiz Américo Margarido and the Maserati/Corvette Mecânica Nacional.
Santilli wanted to enter the Mecânica Nacional, but the car was already assigned to Robert Gallucci, so he drove the ex-Fangio 300S. He found the car hard to handle and crashed the car severely. He was thrown out of the car, severely hurt and deeply shocked. So much, that he retired from racing.
The damaged 3067 was stored in the Santilli premises for years. In that period, it was common practice in Brazil that crashed race cars were much modified and fitted with crude looking coachwork made from fiberglass. Interestingly it appears that Santilli withdrew this practice and most likely stored the remains of the car.
On June 10, 2020 I received an info from Gustavo Vara from Sao Paulo. He contacted some ex-mechanics from the Santilli workshop. They clearly confirmed that the wreck had been stored for years in one corner of the workshop…in upside position!
During all these years all race drivers in Brazil were more or less closely connected. Most of them had a workshop or a parts dealership with scrapyard. Between all these sources, most of the in Sao Paulo, parts were exchanged, swapped with parts from American cars or “homemade” components.
Waldemar Santilli`s brother, Nelson Santilli, had nothing to do with race cars and with the automotive business of his brother. He was in the agricultural industry. In 1970 Nelson was part of organizers of an exhibition of the food industry. He needed an eye-catcher for the show.
Waldemar remembered the 300S, chassis 3069 that was owned at that time by race driver and workshop owner Nicola Papaleo. He had modified his 300S with an ugly fiberglass body and was actively racing with the car. Papaleo had kept the original body of his car and sold it for cheap money to Nelson Santilli.
The much-damaged body of 3067 was then taken away from its chassis and the coachwork of 3069 was fitted. In this guise, still fitted with the V8 engine, chassis 3067 was exhibited at the food show. Unfortunately, Gustavo Vara cannot recall the exact date of the show. He is also not sure what happened then with it during the next years but believes that it was locally “raced” on dirt tracks around Sao Paulo.
Like so many other cars from Italy, chassis 3067 was really worn out and I think it was abandoned. I believe that the original body of 3067 had been repaired and was taken off the chassis and used - modified to a coupe - on a homemade hot-rod of unknown provenance.
Walter Baumer, Germany, June 2020
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