Unlike the BRM, Maserati’s 450S did contest the championship for which it was created, but it too fell short, again largely through a lack of funding, unreliability and some bad luck.
Maserati had finished a fine second to Ferrari in the 1956 World Sportscar Championship with its well-balanced and dependable three-litre 300S.
Work on a 4.5-litre V8 had started in 1954 and it was finally ready for the 1957 season, giving Maserati some true firepower against chief rival Ferrari, which traditionally used larger capacity engines.
“The 450S was very, very powerful, with tremendous torque,” says 1957 works driver Moss. “In terms of sheer power and speed, it marked the high-tide of front-engined sportscar development.”
Ranged against an assortment of Ferraris – including the Scuderia’s own four-litre V12 335 S monster – Maserati had the speed to win the title, helped by the fact it had both Moss and Fangio on its books.
Gearbox failure denied the 450S victory at the Buenos Aires opener, but a 300S finished second and the bigger-engined machine then won the Sebring 12 Hours in the hands of Fangio and Jean Behra.
Moss and Denis Jenkinson started round three, the Mille Miglia, as favourites, partly due to their own 1955 success for Mercedes and also due to the 450S’s ability to top 180mph. It also had a second, two-speed gearbox, allowing a set of shorter ratios for the tighter sections and higher ones for the fast parts.
But the duo had barely gotten started when Moss almost crashed as the brake pedal snapped off. He avoided a serious accident, but the pedal could not be fixed and Maserati lost arguably its best chance of winning the classic Italian road race.
It was a similar story at the Nurburgring 1000km. After a poor start, Moss charged into the lead, only for the left-rear wheel to depart, though victory for Aston Martin’s DBR1 at least limited the damage to Ferrari in the points table, as did Jaguar’s domination of Le Mans, where most of the Italian machinery wilted.
In a race of attrition at the Swedish GP for sportscars, Moss and Behra