The Final Countdown
As time and new rules overtook the 250F, owners looked outside Formula One to continue racing – until Historic events gave these old machines new life.
By the end of the 1950s the 250F Maserati had ceased to be a force in contemporary international racing, and European owners were denied even the prospect of exercising their ageing cars with the introduction of the 1500cc Grand Prix formula for 1961.
But many of the cars had already begun new careers in libre racing in remoter parts of the world, and others would soon be dusted off for the burgeoning sport of historic racing, first in Britain, and later further afield.
The non-mainstream career of the 250F rounds off our story from last month's Motor Sport.
The two ex-works 250Fs in Australia enjoyed long careers. Reg Hunt sold his car (2516) at the beginning of 1957 to Bib Stillwell, who disposed of it two years later to Arnold Glass. Stan Jones raced the other car (2520) from 1956 to 1960, winning both the Australian Grand Prix and the national Gold Star championship in 1959.
Hunt had raced the ex-Schell interim car (2503) in 1955, after which it passed to Kevin Neal, who raced it until a major accident at the end of 1956.
The first of New Zealand's four 250Fs was the disc-braked car (2504/2509) raced by Gavin Quirk in 1957/60, Len Gilbert in 1961 and a teenaged Chris Amon in 1962. More successful however was the ex-Moss car (2508) which raced in New Zealand as 2513 and was used by Ross Jensen to win the Gold Star in 1958. Subsequent owner/drivers of this car were Johnny Mansel (1959-1960) and Bob Eade (1961-62).
Jensen replaced 2508/2513 with the ex-Halford car (2509/2504) which he had fitted with Piccolo-style bodywork. After racing it in 1959 he returned it to Italy, where it became embroiled in a convoluted mix-up with another car. Jensen explained some years later that his car was fitted with a V8 Chevrolet engine and given the bodywork of Scarlatti's 2501/2523. Now renamed the Tec-Mec, it returned to New Zealand and was raced by Mansel (1961) and Rod Coppins (1962-1963). This Tec-Mec should not, incidentally, be confused with the 1959 F1 car of the same name.
According to Jensen the ex-Scarlatti car meanwhile acquired the engine, bodywork and chassis-plate of 2509/2504, and was raced in New Zealand by Brian Prescott 1961-1962.
The activities of the 250Fs in South America — mainly in Brazil, but also in Argentina and Uruguay – still require a great deal more research before the full picture emerges. What is known so far is, briefly, as follows.
Uria continued to race his A6GCM/250 until at least 1960, by which time it had been joined by Creus's offset 250F proper (2526/30), which was raced by Antonio Versa in 1960/61 but had returned to Europe by 1964.
The offset-transmission ex-V12 car (2531) had been acquired less engine by Antonio Mendes de Barros in 1958, and was fitted with a V8 Chevrolet Corvette engine and raced by him right up until 1965, and possibly even later. The two Centro-Sud cars which were sold in 1959 also raced with V8 Chevrolet engines, and they, too, were still in action as late as 1965. The older of these two cars (2502/2511) was driven by Ciro Cayres and Nicola Papaleo, while its sister (2507/2523/2522) saw service in the hands of Luis Margarido, Arnaldo Paccini and Mario Marsiglia.
The other ex-V12 car (2530) raced with a six-cylinder 250F engine during Rugero Peruzzi's ownership, but after Camilo Cristofaro acquired it in 1962 it, too, was equipped with an American V8.
The United States got its first 250F as early as 1956, and three more were landed during the international currency of the formula. With little support for single-seater road racing in the US, however, none made much of an impact.
Well-known sportscar entrant Tony Parravano acquired the 1956 Monza-winning offset car (2525) at the end of that year but before it had time to race Parravano disappeared, the car finding its way to Mexico.
In 1959 the newly-formed Camoradi USA team acquired a car (2529) from Bonnier, which raced in USAC libre events. Later the same year Maserati collector/driver Phil Cade bought the other Bonnier car (2524), and raced it in club events for a couple of years before an accident ended its career.
Finally in 1960 Joe Lubin bought the fitst of the Piccolos (2533) which his driver Bob Drake raced in that year's US Grand Prix.
Cade and Lubin retained their cars unused right into the 1980s, and the exCamoradi car was an exhibit in the Cunningham Museum for many years. The ex-Parravano example returned to the US in the 1960s, was sold to England and then went back to the US Several other 250Fs later went to the US as historic racing became established.
Maserati 250Fs started appearing in historic racing events in Britain in the mid 1960s. First out were H C Spero's ex-Gould car (2514) and the Australian imports of Colin Crabbe (2520) and Cameron Millar (2516). Before long Richard Bergel and Patrick Lindsay bought back a pair of cars from Italy, the ex-Campbell example (2526, believed at time to be 2501 renumbered but in fact 2522/2523 renumbered) and one of the 1957 works lightweight cars (2527). They shared the first car until the newer one was ready, by which time Lindsay had sold his share in the older one to Lord Angus Clydesdale.
Before the '60s were over, Charles Lucas had become the first real 250F star of historic racing, with his 1957 works lightweight car (2528).
Over the years more and more 250Fs were returned to the circuits, so that there remain very few which have not raced in historic events at one time or another (seven of the 26 cars built, by our count). Millar campaigned several in addition to his ex-Australia car, and even built a few himself (see below). Neil Corner took over 2528, which is still in the family today, and Willie Green raced a number of cars, particularly Bamford's 2534. Corner and Green were the star 250F drivers of the 1970s and 1980s.
Around 1966 Cameron Millar obtained a vast quantity of 250F parts which Spero had bought from Scuderia Centro-Sud. These he built up into two cars, using new chassis but incorporating almost entirely genuine parts. No-one had any reason to believe these were not fair claimants to the identities of 2511 and 2522, which were not at that time known to exist anywhere else. Subsequent information however means they must now be regarded as replicas.
Millar later constructed ten unashamed replicas, some containing genuine parts but others not. Four of these are in 1954/56 configuration, two of 1957-lightweight type and four Piccolos. Most are admitted to at least some historic-race fields, and enough people know about the cars to render unlikely any attempt by a future owner to pass them off as genuine.
Now that the events leading up to the changes in 250F numbering have been outlined, a car-by-car breakdown can be provided.
2501 – Roberto Mieres January 1954 — destroyed in transporter accident June 1954.
2502 – destroyed in testing accident December 1953. A car with this number is in Switzerland, but has no apparent connection with any known A6GCM/250.
2502 – see also 2504.
2503 – Harry Schell January 1954 and raced till August. Reg Hunt acquired from factory and raced Australia 1955. To Kevin Neal 1956 but badly damaged November that year and not raced again. Imported UK mid 1960s by Colin Crabbe, raced in historic events by him, Dan Margulies and Ray Fielding (owner since 1972).
2504 – Bira January/June 1954. Renumbered 2502 and sold to Jorge Daponte, later in year to Alberto Uria, who raced it in South America until at least 1960. Brought to UK 1979 by Peter Martin, on to Roger Williams early 1980s, various US owners, Peter Glasel, Germany, 1994.
2510 – Emmanuel de Graffenried midyear, on to Ottorino Volonterio before end of 1954. Other Swiss owners, used regularly in hillclimbs for many years. Present owner: Walter Grell, Switzerland.
2500 – see 2505.
2501 – works car late 1954 through to end of 1957. In later years a test-bed for various experiments such as fuel-injection, radiator ducting etc. Rebodied mid 1956. Drivers: Francesco Godia (twice on loan), Luigi Musso (1955), Carlos Menditeguy and Jean Behra (1956/57), Stirling Moss, Cesare Perdisa, Luigi Villoresi and Joakim Bonnier 1956, Giorgio Scarlatti and Harry Schell 1957. Renumbered 2526 at end of 1957 (for one race), renumbered 2523 and sold to Maria-Teresa de Filippis 1958 (including new body midyear), Scarlatti 1959. Fitted with Piccolo-style bodywork from 2509/2504 in 1960, renumbered 2504 and sold to New Zealand, Brian Prescott 1961-63.
Sold c1966 to Leon Witte and subsequently to Cameron Millar UK, renumbered 2523 and raced (without Piccolo nose) in historic events. On to Chris Mann, Keith Duly (who revised the bodywork once more), Don Young USA, Peter Giddings (present owner) 1986.
2502 – works-supported car for Sergio Mantovani 1954, renumbered 2511 midyear. Also driven for works by Alberto Ascari and Villoresi 1954, and by Perdisa and Clemar Bucci 1955. Scuderia CentroSud 1955-59. Rebodied before 1956 season and again before 1957. Drivers Menditeguy and Luigi Piotti 1955, Schell 1956/57, Villoresi and de Graffenried 1956. Masten Gregory 1957/58, Hans Herrmann 1957, Scarlatti, Gerino Gerini, Troy Ruttmann and de Filippis 1958, Nano da Silva Ramos, Fritz d'Orey and Jack Fairman 1959. Sold less engine to South America 1959. Ciro Cayres (V8 Chevrolet engine) 1960-1, Nicola Papaleo 1963-4. One of the few 250Fs yet to be unearthed: believed still in South America.
2503 – never built as 250F.
2504 – sold new to Bira to replace his interim car, then to Owen Organisation mid-1954, renumbered 2509. Driven for Owen by Ken Wharton 1954, Peter Collins 1955, won International Trophy race, Mike Hawthorn 1956. Sold to Jack Brabham 1956, to Gavin Quirk in New Zealand 1957, who modified the body. On to Len Gilbert 1961, Chris Amon 1962, Len Southward (present owner) 1963.
2504 – see also 2501, 2509.
2505 – works car, winner 1954 Argentine and Belgian GPs with Juan Manuel Fangio: Also raced by Onofre Marimon, Mantovans and Ascari before being acquired by Mieres (but still run as part of the factory team). To Schell late 1954, Andre Simon early 1955, loaned to Centro-Sud (Bonnier, Scarlatti and Gino Munaron) 1957 then sold to Bonnier. Reacquired by factory, rebuilt, relabelled 2500 and presented to Biscaretti Museum (present owners) in Turin c1960. Believed to be the only 1954 car to have retained its original (louvred) bodywork throughout its life.
2506 – works car 1954, first raced as 2502, driven by Marimon, Moss, Schell and Musso. Sold to Louis Rosier late in year, rebodied for 1956, and on to Rene Bourely 1957. To Scuderia Centro-Sud and formed basis of new car 2511 1959. Nasif Estefano in Argentina 1960. Returned to Europe 1960 and via Henri Malartre Museum at Rochetaille-sur-Saone (Lyons) to Schlumpf Collection (present owners) 1963.
2507A – Gilby Engineering car for Roy Salvadori 1954. Returned to factory after accident later in year. Chassis stored until reunited with its bodywork and run again, as 2523, 1956, with Moss, Perdisa and Umberto Maglioli. Later that year renumbered 2522, rebodied, and sold to Scuderia Centro-Sud for 1957. Rebodied again later that year. Driven by Schell, Gregory, Bonnier, Herrmann. Piero Taruffi, Ivor Bueb and Horace Gould 1957, Mieres, Wolfgang Seidel, Carroll Shelby and Cliff Allison 1958, da Silva Ramos, d'Orey and Dale Duncan 1959. Centro-Sud also ran it as a school car, then sold it to South America less engine 1959. Fitted with V8 Chevrolet engine and raced by Luis Margarido 1960, Arnaldo Paccini 1960/61, Mario Marsiglia 1963/65. Returned to UK by Cohn Crabbe 1972, unused by Chris Drake many years, restored for Jeremy Agace (present owner).
2507B – Gilby Engineering replacement chassis late 1954. Driven for them by Salvador until 1956 (with new body for that season) with many successes in British national races, and in 1957 by Bueb and Keith Greene. Via various collectors, notably Dr Lacerda in Portugal, until returning to UK for historic racing late 1970s. Amschel Rothschild 1977/84, Chris Mann 1985/87 and (present owner) Robin Lodge.
2508 – Stirling Moss car 1954/55/56. Also raced in 1955 by Hawthorn, John Fitch, Lance Macklin, Peter Walker, Bob Gerard and Les Leston. Rebodied for 1956, and returned later that year to factory. where stored until renumbered 2513 late 1957 and sold to Ross Jensen in NZ. Raced by him 1958, Johnny Mansel 1959-60, Bob Eade 1961-63. To Alan Bateman UK 1964 then Alan McKechnie as 2508, on to USA for Joel Finn, later Bob Sutherland. Body modified 1975, replaced with 1954-type 1986. Returned to UK for Jeffrey Pattinson (present owner) 1990.
2509 – new to Owen Organisation 1954 and driven by Wharton. Renumbered 2504 and used by Bira until early 1955. Leased to Gould, then sold to Bruce Halford for 19 56/57/58. Rebodied before 1957 season, and again (in Piccolo style) 1958 for Ross Jensen in NZ. Returned to Italy and fitted 1960 with V8 Chevrolet Corvette engine and bodywork from 2501/2523 and sold via Jensen to Mansel NZ, possibly as 2523. Raced by him 1961, Rod Coppins (including as central-seat sportscar) 1962-63. Dave O'Connor and Leon Witte NZ unraced. To UK for Cameron Millar 1973 and renumbered 2504 during rebuild which included fitting of 1954-type bodywork for Chris Mann. Sold to Count Hubertus von Donhoff in Germany 1981 and to Peter Glasel 1995.
2509 – see also 2504.
2510 – never built as a 250F, though Austrian Egon Hofer acquired a 250F frame from the factory in 1970 which he believes to have this number. He has had this built up into a replica of the streamlined car.
2511 – see 2502, 2506, Cameron Millar replicas.
2512 – works car mid 1954 to early 1955, driven by Ascari, Villoresi and Musso 1954. Menditeguy 1955. Rebodied as streamliner 1955, renumbered 2518. Car dismantled and body thrown on scrap-heap. Chassis possibly the one subsequently sold to Hofer (see 2510).
2513 – rolling chassis supplied to Vanderveil Engineering. Acquired by David Sankey 1970, completed 1976 with 1957/58-style body and raced 1980/85. Sold on to Hein Gericke (present owner) in Germany 1987.
2513 – see also 2508.
2514 – works car late 1954, driven by Musso and Mieres. To Gould late 1955 with new body and raced by him regularly till mid-1958. Rebodied again 1958. Retained until sale to H C Spero, raced by John Spero in historic events from 1964. Later Tom Rose, Neil Corner, Mann and to Yoshiyuki Hayashi in Japan 1980s. Returned to UK 1995 and sold through Talacrest to a Swiss buyer.
2515 – works car 1955, driven usually by Mieres, but also by Moss, Collins, Mantovani, Perdisa and Shelby. To Scuderia Guastalla 1956, driven usually by Gerini, but also by Chico Landi, Maglioli, Villoresi. Rebodied and sold to Volonterio 1957-63, latterly in hillclimbs only but raced by Simon, de Graffenried and Giulio Cabianca as well as the owner. Sold to Tom Wheatcroft (present owner) UK 1965 and in Donington Collection since its opening in 1973.
2516 – Behra's works car 1956, winner non-championship Pau and Bordeaux GPs. Also raced by Mieres and Villoresi. To Australia for Reg Hunt 1956, Bib Stillwell 1957-58. Rebodied 1958. Arnold Glass 1959-61, Jim Broadley. Cameron Millar UK 1963 and raced by him until 1973. Anthony Mayman from 1984 and driven by many others. In Germany since 1992.
2517 – never built.
2518 – see 2512.
2519 – Piotti late 1955, raced initially as 2511, driven usually by Villoresi or the owner 1956. Rebodied late 1956. Sold by Piotti to Centro-Sud 1958. Rebodied for Italian GP. Driven by Schell, Gerini, Maurice Trintignant and Roberto Bonomi 1958, da Silva Ramos 1959. Some parts incorporated in Centro-Sud's construction of 2511 out of 2506, but fate of remains is unknown. Possibly scrapped, or sold to South America, or maybe even North America.
2520 – works car Argentina for Froilan Gonzalez and Pablo Guile 1956 (as 2512) then to Australia for Stan Jones till 1961. To UK with Crabbe 1963. Later Corner, Nigel Moores (who raced as "Willie Eckerslyke" and "Paul Kelly"), David Llewellyn and 1981 to Guido Dubbini in Italy. Car remained in Dubbini family until recently, and is believed to be for sale in Italy.
2521 – Behra's usual works car 1956. Raced initially as 2518. Sold at end of year to Ecurie du Puy but little raced over next seasons: Ken Wharton late 1956. Loaned to Centro-Sud for Halford for one 1957 race, and to Jean Lucas for another. Andre Testut with new bodywork 1958/59, then to Serge Pozzoli collection in France for many years. Acquired by Burkhard von Schenk (present owner) 1990.
2522 – works car 1956. Raced initially as 2516. Won Monaco GP (Moss). Also raced by Perdisa, Taruffi and Behra. Rebodied and renumbered 2523 August. Fitted with V12 engine for 1957. Replaced by a six for 1958, rebodied, renumbered 2526 and sold to Keith Campbell. Stored in Italy by Ken Kavanagh after Campbell's death until acquired 1965 for historic racing by Richard Bergel and Hon Patrick Lindsay. Later the Duke of Hamilton (then Lord Clydesdale) shared with Bergel, then the Earl of Strathmore took over the car. Bobby Bell (present owner) acquired 1978.
2522 – see also 2507, Cameron Millar replicas.
2523 – see 2501, 2507, 2509, 2522.
2524 – new to Godia 1956. Retained by him, with new body mid-1957, till sale to Bonnier early 1958, having been loaned to factory for Menditeguy to race (as 25011 in Argentina 1957. Raced by Bonnier 1958, and also by Phil Hill and Cabianca that year, de Filippis and Carel Godin de Beaufort 1959, and Herrmann both years. To Phil Cade USA 1959 and retained by him after 1962 accident until sale to Bob Rubin 1988 and via Peter Rae to David Pennell UK 1995.
2525 – first of two 1956 offset cars. Won Italian GP (Moss). To Tony Parravano USA straight after race but not raced before being transferred to Mexico. Back to USA and Carl Bross, then Anthony Bamford UK 1972, raced by Willie Green. Returned to USA and owned many years by Joel Finn before being acquired 1988 by Robert Fergus (present owner).
2526 – the second 'Monza offset' car. Retained by works 1957, then renumbered 2530 and sold to Antonio Creus, South America. Antonio Versa in 1960/61. Returned to Italy 1964 and to Schlumpf Collection (present owners) 1966.
2526 – see also 2501, 2522.
2527 – 1957 works lightweight car, driven mostly by Schell, but also by Moss and Menditeguy. To Kavanagh for 1958/59 racing. Retained unused by Kavanagh until acquired 1964 by Lindsay for UK historic racing. Sold to Innes Ireland, back to Lindsay. Rebuilt with new chassis following major accident at Thruxton, and another after crashing at Oulton Park. Later owned and raced by Vic Norman 1978/81, Albert Obrist 1982 and then Finn (present owner).
2528 – 1957 works lightweight car, won Monaco GP (Fangio) and also non-championship Pau, Modena and Morocco races (Behra). Schell also drove. Godia 1958, idle till end of year when acquired by Ettore Chimeri in Venezuela, but returned to Italy during 1960. Not raced again until bought by Charles Lucas for historic racing 1964. To Corner 1972 and remains in the Corner family.
2529 – 1957 works lightweight car. Won Argentine, French and German GPs (Fangio). Also raced by Schell. To Scarlatti then Bonnier 1958, also driven by Herrmann. To Camoradi team in USA 1959 and raced in USAC libre events by Chuck Daigh. Paul O'Shea and Zora Arkus-Duntov. Later to Dave Deuble and in Cunningham Museum for many years before sale to Hartmut Ibing (present owner) in Germany 1988.
2530 – V12 car, based on 1957 lightweight chassis. Fitted with six-cylinder engine 1958, but not raced (in either form) until going to South America 1959. Returned to Italy but to Argentina for Munaron early 1960. Returned to Italy again and sold to Rugero Peruzzi in Brazil later in 1960, Camillo Cristofaro (with V8 Chevrolet engine) 1962-64-?. Chassis-less remains brought to UK by Crabbe c1972, to Philip Dowell, Joel Finn then Nick Mason (present owner), who had car built on replica frame to 1957 lightweight specification cI979 and numbered 2532.
2531 – V12 car, based on 'Monza offset' chassis design. Raced once (1957 Italian GP with Behra). Sold less engine to Brazilian Antonio Mendes de Barros who equipped With V8 Chevrolet engine and raced until at least 1965. Returned per Crabbe 1972 and via Hexagon of Highgate to Stephen Griswold who rebuilt with VI2 engine but in-line transmission, Sold 1990 to Thomas Bscher (present owner) in Germany.
2532 – first of Scuderia Buell's 1958 Piccolo models, later renumbered 2533. To Centro-Sud late 1959 and raced by Scarlatti in Argentina 1960. To Joe Lubin USA and raced by Bob Drake in 1960 US GP. Retained by Lubin till sale to Don Orosco 1984, then to Ralph Lauren (present owner) 1988.
2532 – see also 2530.
2533 – see 2532, 2534.
2534 – second 1958 Piccolo, raced by Scuderia Buell late in year (as 2533) and early 1959. Acquired from Turin Museum by Bamford 1972 and raced for him by Green for many years, also by Moss and John Surtees. To Lindsay Owen-Jones (present owner) 1991.
Cameron Millar replicas
'2522' – built 1970s from Centro-Sud spares as 1957-type and given the identity of that car as it had a better claim to it than anything else. Subsequent information means this car now has to be considered a replica. Raced for Millar by Alan Cottam. Owned by van der Lof family in the Netherlands since c1979.
'2511’ – 1954/56-type chassis as above. Owned by Nobo Harada in Japan since late 1970s.
CM1 – 1954/56 type raced by Steve O'Rourke, Richard Thwaites (for Cedric Brierley). Via Australia and US to present owner Pete Waterman in UK 1990; raced for him by Green. At present for sale with Duncan Hamilton Ltd.
CM2 – 1957 type raced by Peter Martin, Alan Cottam. Later stripped of its original Maserati parts for a sportscar restoration but rebuilt with replica components. At present for sale with Crabbe.
CM3 – Piccolo raced by Richard Bond for Margulies and later owner John Young. Since c1990 in Fangio Museum in Argentina.
CM4 – 1954/56 type raced by Griswold (for Corrado Cupellini). Later other Italian owners and, since 1988, Jacky luri, France.
CM5 – 1954/56 type Ray Fielding owner since 1980. Has never raced.
CM6 – Piccolo Various UK owners, John Coombs since 1986. Believed never raced until Robert Brooks 199c.
CM7 – Piccolo raced by Ted Rollason and present owner Ludovic Lindsay.
CM8 – 1954/56 type owned and raced since 1992 by Robin Lodge and present owner Gunnar Elmgren.
CM9 – 1957-type at present under construction by Cameron Millar.
CM10 – Piccolo – at present under construction in UK.