The Maserati 450S raced by Moss, Fangio, Shelby and Gurney

24th November 2022
Ethan Jupp

The 1955 Mille Miglia drive by Sir Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson in the 722-numbered Mercedes 300 SLR, has to be one of the greats in all of motorsport. Of course little needs to be said of Stirling’s prodigious driving but it was the famous and, at the time, innovative ‘loo roll’ notes – the first of their kind – that allowed him to push as hard as he did.

With Mercedes’ exit from motorsport shortly after, following the Le Mans disaster, Sir Stirling went to Maserati, who for 1956 and 1957 provided him with drives for the famous thousand-mile road race. This Maserati 450S, which was present at the 2021 Goodwood Revival as we celebrated the inimitable career of Mr Motorsport, was driven by he and Denis Jenkinson at the final Mille Miglia in 1957, and that’s far from the only star driver in this car’s history.


So as a fellow works Mille Miglia Stirling car, why isn’t this Maserati lauded near, if not alongside, the likes of ‘722’? The car was a hot favourite for the win that year for sure, with only Ferrari to contend with as a works entry and a year’s development under the 450S platform.

To put it bluntly, the attempt was quite the opposite of a success. Moss and Jenks’ didn’t make it very far in the monster Maser, before a failed weld in the brake pedal caused it to snap under Stirling’s foot, leading to an accident that left the car fatally wounded. Apparently, the snapped pedal remains with the car today.

I once asked Moss what his scariest ever drive was. His response was something to the tune of “there have been a few, but when the brake let go at 130mph on my Maserati at the Mille Miglia in 1957, that was quite frightening”.

Speaking with the gentleman looking after the car at the Revival, we got a chuckle when we told him Moss’s comments: “I think the problem is, Maserati was, at the time, very short of money. The concept of the car worked but they always suffered from under development and a lack of preparation. The basis is there and I think now, as the cars have gotten older, some of the issues have been ironed out.”

So the dynamic duo were unharmed, but the game was up and what could have been, became what wasn’t to be. The pair walked back to a heartbroken Maserati camp. Fangio and Moss shared the car at the Nürburgring later that month and experienced similar ill fortune, with a half shaft failure putting the world class pair out of the running for the 1,000km.


With its works career over, chassis 4505 was renumbered 4506 at the factory and was sold on to American John Edgar. The salt in the air as the car crossed the Atlantic must have stripped it of its bad luck, because following its arrival it was campaigned extensively and successfully all over the US in SCCA rounds by none other than Carroll Shelby. 

The American and the Italian racked up numerous wins throughout the rest of 1957, at Lime Rock, VIR, Palm Springs and Riverside, alongside a number of other podium finishes. Shelby raced it into 1958 with the revised red with yellow highlights livery we see here. A final drive at Palm Springs in April yielded him his last win with the car. Dan Gurney then took the reins for a single SCCA race in May, though the bad luck must have returned, because Gurney failed to finish the race.

The car then underwent a number of engine swaps, with a 6.3-litre Pontiac V8 lasting just seven months before it was swapped for a 5.7-litre Maserati V8. The car latterly moved to the Rosso Bianco Collection of Peter Kaus, under whose stewardship it received another engine swap – still a Maserati V8, but displacing 6.2 litres in what would otherwise be a marine spec. Yes, this 450S got the engine from a boat! 


It saw some action at the Oldtimer GP in Germany, with two visits in Kaus’s stewardship and a further two with Thomas Escher, who bought the car in 1990. The car now retains its original bodywork and is effectively in unrestored condition, though its latest custodian has returned it to an as-Shelby-raced-it engine spec.

This 450S is one of those cars, that’s lived about four different lifetimes and been touched by the titans. Starting life as a Mille Miglia machine driven by perhaps the 1,000km duo, Moss and Jenks’, then running with Moss and Fangio at the Nürburgring. It then carved out a slice of the American pie, as a key car in Carroll Shelby’s rise to the upper echelons of sportscar racing glory. Could it have been instrumental in his journey to that Aston Martin Le Mans win? It's probable.

There’s nothing quite like ‘722’ of course, but then the storied life of this big bruising Italian Trident is about as inimitable as it gets. “Really, this is the car. There’s nothing like it out there” the 450S’s guardian told us. Agreed.

Photography by Pete Summers.

  • Maserati

  • 450S

  • Goodwood Revival

  • Revival 2021

  • Stirling Moss

  • Mille Miglia

  • Carroll Shelby

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