APR 21st 2015

Video: 73MM On Board ‑ How to bump‑start a Maserati 250F

The odds are that if you like to play with cars (especially old ones) then at one point or another you will have had to perform a bump-start: Ignition on, select a suitable gear (usually second) then, when the unfortunate souls enlisted to push the vehicle up to speed have done their job, release the clutch and with luck it’ll be running again. Often at this point it’s polite to get out of the car and check that the pushers who fell over when you popped the clutch are okay, although they’ll likely be too out of breath to confirm this.


What though do you do if there’s nobody to push you after the engine has died? Also, what if there’s no starter motor or even a battery? Well if you ever find yourself in such a situation, fear not because here historic racer Simon Diffey shows us how it’s done.

During the Hawthorn Trophy race at the recent 73rd Members’ Meeting Mr Diffey was having a strong run in second position when the Maserati 250F he was driving spun at St Marys. No starter motor, no battery (as a Grand Prix car neither was necessary), nobody to push the legendary red car up to bumping speed. Game over. Or so you might think …

But our man Diffey soon comes up with a plan. At the point where he spun the track is heading slightly downhill and, although the car has no battery, the engine is a) hot, and b) ignited by a pair of magnetos. As such, it should start easily if it can compress some mixture. This is the clever bit: Noticing that the car is on a slight gradient, our hero realises that if he reaches outside of the car he can roll the rear wheel forwards and build up momentum. As he does this it still doesn’t seem like he’ll have enough speed up to get the old girl started again. But the combination of a warm motor and the powerful magnetos do their job and we’re treated to the wonderful howl of the Maserati straight-six again.   

Well done, sir!

Here’s how it looked from outside the car …

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