The 250F was from a strong stable. Maserati was a red-blooded équipe, if ever there was one. Founded in ’26, it took the team just eight years to become the world’s biggest builder of single-seater race cars. For the first twenty years, Maserati was devoted solely to racing. So, by the time it got round to building production cars, it had learned a thing or two!
The 250F hit the grid in ’54. It was fully prepared for the challenges ahead. Its straight-six motor came with three twin-choke Weber carburettors. Like most other GP cars of the era, its engine was front-mounted – and powered the rear wheels. Top speed was 185mph. Engine capacity was 2,490cc. The chassis comprised a tubular steel frame, independent wishbone/coil spring front suspension, and a de Dion rear axle. In ’57, Maserati unleashed an updated 250F. It was fitted with a 5-speed gearbox and fuel injection. Power had been upped to 270bhp. Bodywork had been revised. The new frontal area was stiletto-sharp. Braking, too, had been improved. The 250F was now at the peak of its development cycle.
Juan Manuel Fangio was Argentinian. He was also a driving ace. When he climbed into the 250F’s cockpit he was already a motor racing legend. The beefed-up version of the car would bring him his fifth World Championship. En route to that, his win in the German GP – at the Nürburgring – has gone down in folklore. Peter Collins – in a Ferrari – was the hapless victim of a genius at work. The Ferrari had been way out in front. But that was before Fangio decided to turn up the wick. Four-wheel drifting his ‘Maser’ – with robotic precision – he caught up with Collins. As he duly went by him, it was as if man and machine melded. It was the greatest performance either of them ever gave. Motor racing as science. Sporting endeavour of the highest order. Fortunate, indeed, were those in attendance that August day, in Germany. The Maserati 250F – piloted by possibly the best driver of all time – had scaled rarefied racing heights!