Za­gato’s mon­ster re­turns

In­spired by Moss’s 1957 racer, Za­gato builds just five of the Mostro – all sold…

Octane - - IGNITION // NEW CAR NEWS - Words and pho­tog­ra­phy Alvise-Marco Seno

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.

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