Zagato’s monster returns
Inspired by Moss’s 1957 racer, Zagato builds just five of the Mostro – all sold…
In 1957, the Maserati 450 S Coupé by Zagato, equipped with a closed body by request of Stirling Moss, raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After the race, ‘The Monster’, with 400bhp, was turned into a road car by the factory for its new owner, American enthusiast Byron Staver. Now, almost 60 years on, Zagato Atelier is paying homage. The Mostro (built from carbonfibre, weighing only 1000kg and powered by a 420bhp Maserati V8) is a pure track car yet with road homologation. Only five cars will be built, and they’ve already sold out.
From a mechanical point of view, the Mostro has a front/mid-mounted engine and rear transaxle for optimum weight distribution. Its carbonfibre monocell is combined with a full rollcage (it surrounds the cockpit), built from large-diameter steel tubing. A rear subframe supports the transmission, fuel tank and suspension, which is by double wishbones with race-style adjustable pushrod dampers.
The engine is Maserati’s dry-sump 4.2-litre V8 with custom management, which drives straight through to the rear-mounted six-speed sequential gearbox. Crucially, there are no electronic driver aids. Even ABS and traction control were banned in the quest for the most compelling driving experience, and the end result is that remarkable (by today’s standards) one-tonne kerbweight.
Zagato’s designers deliberately avoided nostalgia. Its proportions are similar to those of the 450 S Coupé Zagato, with a long nose to house that rear-set engine, but the emphasis was on scoring the best aerodynamics for a modern race car. And so the Mostro looks unlike any other car, even track specials such as the McLaren P1 GTR or Ferrari FXX.
Driving the Mostro makes a Porsche 991 GT3 RS, a Ferrari 458 Speciale or even a Lamborghini Aventador SV feel like a luxury car: one you could commute in, go shopping in, take your children to school in. Here there are no power seats, power steering, navigation system, climate control, sound system or even cruise control – the fitments that make those cars feel like muffled travelling companions. By comparison, anyway.
Lift the Mostro’s door and you see a stark racing cockpit, though one whose trim and colours were chosen in collaboration with Italian fashion brand Costume National. There’s raw carbonfibre on display, leather bucket seats (they don’t recline), even fixed windows. You clamber in over the cage, insert your legs into the pedal tunnel and immerse yourself in the narrow seat. The dashboard is high, the gearshift at eye level; fortunately, the steering wheel is adjustable and detachable. The dash is a wall of aluminium. Fantastic.
Press the button and the V8 releases thunder. Select first gear, feel the transmission shake the whole car and accelerate away. Immediately you notice that the set-up is hard as rock, the steering direct, light, extremely responsive to commands: the chassis is perfectly balanced, neutral on entry to a corner, stable through the apex, and throttleadjustable on the way out. The car feels light on its feet, and the apparently modest 420bhp is ample, its roar filling your ears.
Comfort is a foreign concept but that’s the point. This is a Gran Turismo as Zagato designed and built them nearly six decades ago.
Above and below Curvaceous Zagato bodywork is all carbonfibre and hides a front/mid-mounted Maserati V8; the butterfly-hinged doors offer access to a frill-free race-style cockpit.