There could have been no more fitting person to be guest of honour at the opening of Maserati’s centennial exhibition in Modena than Sir Stirling Moss. He gave Maserati some of its most famous victories in the 1950s, including the Italian and Monaco grands prix of 1956. The 250F he drove then is one of the cars on show in the new exhibition.
There was a general Q&A for the press – one Italian reporter asked Stirling what fear was, to which the great man came up with the following memorable response: ‘It’s very unhelpful to think about anything other than cars and crumpet.’
He also found some time to answer GRR’s questions (sorry they are not as good as that one)…
What was so special about the 250F?
I have driven 108 different racing cars in my life and I am very lucky that a great many of them were Maseratis. The great thing about a Maserati was that it was always very driver friendly and that certainly applied to the 250F. It was very user-friendly, very well balanced and with great brakes. And a lovely looking car. I look back on it with great affection. The only problem was that it was not as well built as a Ferrari. The Ferrari was more reliable.
What was your favourite Maserati drive?
At Monaco in ’56 in the 250F. I elected to have the four-speed box rather than the five-speeder.
How did you come to drive the 250F?
Because Ferrari wouldn’t sell me a car, and Maserati would. I had some money I had won riding horses, and with my father we bought the 250F. My first race in it was in Bremgarten in Switzerland. It was wet and I managed to put my privately-entered 250F on pole ahead of the works Maseratis and Mercedes, ahead of Fangio and Ascari. Neubauer at Mercedes signed me up that night. So a tremendous amount of my career is down to that Maserati.
Did you prefer circuit or road racing?
I always preferred road racing to circuits. I enjoyed it in the 1950s, driving through all the little villages. I can’t think of anything nicer for a young man than being a racing driver on events like the Mille Miglia. It was a fabulous life.
What would be in your dream Maserati garage?
First would be a 250F, then a 250S. I also love the 450S and the Birdcage.
Do you own any Maseratis?
I still have my OSCA (the cars the Maserati brothers made after they set up on their own). It’s the only one in the world with desmodromic valves. When Mercedes came out with a desmodromic valve head in 1954 Alfieri Maserati thought it a good idea and made one which I have on my car. So it’s very special.
What do you think about the new F1 regulations this year?
F1 staggers me. It’s a ridiculous fuel economy run. Why they passed these new regulations I have no idea. It’s a great shame.
How important is that Maserati stays connected to motorsport?
I think they should always be connected to motorsport. They have too much sporting heritage not to. But it depends on what motorsport and how it is used. I don’t think a person buying a Maser today thinks they are buying a racing car, but the point is they do know they are buying a fine car, same with Ferrari. You know how good the road cars are because of the racing.
What about Maserati and diesel SUVs?
Ah, they’re different. I am mad on electrics now. I have an electric Renault Twizy and living in London it’s ideal.
What you need is a Maserati electric or hybrid car
They don’t make one but when they do I will be first in line for one.
Sir Stirling will be one of the star guests at the Festival of Speed this weekend, when he will be reunited with some of his old Mercedes-Benz racing cars, while he will next be donning his Maserati cap for the Silverstone Classic (25-27 July) when he will lead the Maserati parade in a 250F.