Senior Specialist, Head of Department, UK
No less a racing driver than Sir Stirling Moss has described the 3-litre 6-cylinder engined Maserati 300S as having been: "...one of my favourite front-engined sports Maseratis – one of the easiest, nicest, best-balanced sports-racing cars ever made...".
Here we offer a particularly well-known, well-presented and fine-quality example of this intensely well-respected and much-coveted model. Maserati 300S chassis serial '3053' was the third sports-racing car of its type to be ordered by the great American entrant Briggs Swift Cunningham for the use of his old friend and team driver Bill Spear.
Upon delivery in the USA, Maserati '3053' now offered here was co-driven by Bill Spear and Sherwood Johnston in the 1955 Sebring 12-Hours race, American road racing's round of the FIA Sports Car World Championship...
Spear and Johnson enjoyed a fine debut race with their brand-new Maserati, finishing third overall at the end of the 12-Hours race around Hendrick Field AFB, Florida, having completed no fewer than 180 laps of the 5.2-mile circuit. This total was only two fewer than the total completed by the second-placed Phil Hill/Carroll Shelby-driven Ferrari 750 Monza and the winning Mike Hawthorn/Phil Walters Jaguar D-Type (also entered by Briggs Cunningham) ahead of them. The American duo sharing '3053' also beat into fourth place the works-supported Maserati 300S – chassis '3061' – co-driven in this grueling event by budding works driver Cesare Perdisa and Gino Valenzano.
Following this very successful racing debut in '3053', big, burly Bill Spear then campaigned this car in a selective programme of Sports Car Club of America events. On May 15, 1955, he finished second in the car in Round 4 of that year's Sports Car Club of America National Sports Car Championship event at Cumberland, Maryland, headed only by his Sebring co-driver Sherwood Johnson in a 4½-litre V12-engined Ferrari 375.
On July 4 he spun out of the SCCA preliminary at Beverly Airfield, Massachusetts, before sharing '3053' with John Gordon Bennett to finish fifth in the feature event that day. He also set fastest lap in this car, but did not reappear at this level until September 11 in the SCCA Nationals on the Road America circuit at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. There he again finished fifth, this time behind John Gordon Bennett's sister Maserati 300S – chassis '3051' – the Jaguar D-Types of Sherwood Johnston and Ernie Erickson and overall winner Phil Hill's Ferrari 750 Monza.
The following weekend at Watkins Glen in upstate New York saw Bill Spear and '3053' back on top form as the combination again took a strong second place in the Watkins Glen Grand Prix, this time bettered only by his old sparring partner Sherwood Johnston in the Cunningham-entered D-Type Jaguar. The top-quality sports-racing cars trailing in '3053's wake included a sister Maserati 300S, Ferrari 375, 340 and 250 Mille Miglia, and the works-team 5.4-litre V8-engined Cunningham C4Rs. Bill Spear also set fastest lap of the Glen's contemporary 4.6-mile country road circuit with a time of 3 minutes 17.4 seconds.
October 16 then saw Spear and '3053' in fierce competition once again, this time at Fairchild Air Force Base outside Hagerstown, Maryland. The combination finished third in the 100-mile feature race there against winner Sherwood Johnstone, out again in Cunningham's D-Type Jaguar, and Phil Hill's Ferrari 750 Monza.
This well raced and highly competitive Maserati was also featured in the August 1955 issue of the popular specialist periodical Sports Cars Illustrated, illustrations showing that the car had been fitted with a headrest topping its rear deck.
After racing '3053' most enjoyably that season, Bill Spear eventually sold the car in the summer of 1956 to fellow amateur SCCA enthusiast Joe Giubardo of Valley Stream, Long Island. He appeared in the car only very occasionally, making his apparent debut in it during an SCCA Regional Meeting at Thompson Raceway, New England on May 26, 1957. On June 9 that year he emerged at higher level in the SCCA National Championship round at Lime Rock, Connecticut, but failed to finish.
On August 18, 1957, Joe Giubardo then came home seventh in '3053' at Montgomery AFB, but while retaining this exotic Maserati, it appears that he concentrated upon more humble motor racing from mid-1957 forward with an Austin-Healey Special and an MGA Twin-Cam. He then reappeared in '3053' at Montgomery on August 9, 1959, placing tenth in the 'big-banger' sports car race won by George Constantine's Aston Martin DBR2 from Phil Forno's Lister-Jaguar and Bob Holbert's Porsche RSK. It is believed that his last race in the car was at Bridgehampton, Long Island in September 1958. Nevertheless he kept the great Italian classic until 1964.
Tragically, Joe Giubardo was murdered by two young assailants at his home in 1964. We understand that – as recorded in Maserati authority Walter Baumer's massive book 'The Maserati 300S' (published by Dalton Watson, Deerfield, IL, USA – 2008) – "...the next owners on record were Bill Wonder, an enthusiast from Glen Cove, and Joel Finn, author of the first book about the cars from Modena, 'Maserati; The Postwar Sports-racing Cars'.
Bill Wonder entered '3053' in assorted Historic events during the 1970s, and around 1986 the well-preserved Maserati was acquired by leading German Maseratisto Dr Thomas Bscher. After some twenty years in his care – during which it was maintained in highly original order while being campaigned most successfully in European Historic racing – the car passed from Dr Bscher to the current owner.
As offered the car has a fully race-prepared Cyril Embrey-built Maserati 300S engine installed while its original power unit ex-USA – is included as a spare with this Lot. This spare factory-built engine's cylinder head is stamped '44' while the cylinder block bears the stamping '24'. Both components are also stamped with a number '7' and Walter Baumer suggests that the block was damaged at some time in its American career, a later cylinder head being supplied and both components being re-stamped with the common number '7' during reassembly. Most importantly the engine has the original factory number '3053' – with rosette flanking punch marks – stamped into the crankcase's integrally-cast bearer.
A Jack Knight-modified five-speed transaxle is presently installed while the period-correct four-speed transaxle – together with its associated four-speed and reverse cockpit gearchange gate – is offered within the spares that accompany this Lot.
Since the original Briggs Cunningham order to which '3053' was supplied had actually included no fewer than three sister 300S cars, each one was widely stamped in period at Cunningham's request to differentiate the individual sister vehicles.
Spare Borrani wire wheels included with this Lot bear witness to this process – 'SPEAR' being stamped clearly into the rim ledges. As Baumer declares in his 300S book, "This 300S is wonderfully preserved in its original state. All three of the early 300Ss (and probably also No. '3057') were delivered with panels that covered the chassis tubes in the cockpit. These panels are still present in '3053'".
A minor bodywork modification at the rear of the cockpit provided its tall and robustly-built owner with extra space by removing the standard spare-wheel clearance bulge panel from the bulkhead there. This original panel is preserved with this Lot's spares and accompanies it in this Sale. The gearbox cowl was also replaced within the cockpit but is also preserved and available within '3053's spares. A very neat roll-over hoop is incorporated within the car's headrest paneling.
The instruments on the car's dash panel are Maserati and Jaeger originals, apart from a later modification fuel pressure gauge on the passenger side facia section.
The vendor and his resident engineer have maintained the car meticulously and taken great pains during their lengthy tenure not to alter the car permanently in any way. No non-original holes have been drilled and the detachable passenger-side windscreen section adopted for such events as the Mille Miglia Retrospective merely slots into the pre-existing attachment points provided for the rigid cockpit tonneau panel. Original Maserati 450S-sized front brakes are fitted which provide '3053' with remarkable capability within its drum-braked class.
As such, the car can be configured to be equally at home on road or track, demonstrating the car's fantastic versatility. Furthermore, the spare engine, containing much of '3053's original DNA is preserved alongside, together with a useful spares package as partly described above.
Such premium-grade Maserati 300S sports-racing cars are very rarely offered for sale by public auction. The appearance of '3053' here as one of the star Lots in Bonhams' 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale is certain to generate worldwide interest.
As Sir Stirling has confirmed of Maserati's peerless 300S: "...one of the easiest, nicest, best-balanced sports-racing cars ever made...".
Now '3053' can be yours.
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