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Friday
Dec092011

Tipo 250: A Maserati GP Car You Can Drive Every Day

By Christopher A. Sawyer

All photos courtesy Andy Peace.

Every man has a dream. Some more than one. Few ever pursue them. Fewer still pursue them to their conclusion. Andy Peace is one of the latter, a man with a dream who has made it a reality. It was a dream that started when he first set eyes on the lithe, sensuous car, and whose flames were fanned when he saw it in historic racing competition and as he learned its history.

The Legend is Born…

The Maserati Tipo 250F’s first race was the 1954 Argentine Grand Prix where it won in the hands of five-time world driving champion Juan Manuel Fangio. Though Fangio would take another win in the 250F before jumping to the Mercedes-Benz GP team, it was not the last pairing for the two. Three years later Fangio took four more wins on the way to his last world title, the last of which is the stuff of racing legend.

 

The 14-mile, 172-turn Nurburgring was the site of what many consider to be Fangio’s greatest victory. Except for a single kilometer-long straight, “The Green Hell” as it became known, was a non-ending series of turns and switchbacks combined with sharp elevation changes. Sitting on pole with a time of 9m 25.6s, Fangio needed to cover 22 laps — 311.67 miles — to take the win and his fifth championship at the age of 46. Biding his time trailing the Lancia Ferraris of Mike Hawthorne and Peter Collins, Fangio passed them on the third lap and extended his lead to 30 seconds. On lap 12 Fangio, who had started on a half-tank of fuel, came in to the pits to refuel and change tires. The stop was a disaster. It took 1m 10s. He was now well behind.

His out lap was spent bedding in his tires, and the combination of the pit stop and slow out lap put Fangio 51 seconds behind Hawthorn and Collins. Third, however,  was not good enough for Fangio to take the title. He had to win. On his first hot lap, Fangio took 10 seconds off the Lancia-Ferrari pair. On the next to last lap, he reduced his pole-winning lap time by 8.2 seconds. Driving each lap with smooth abandon, Fangio clawed back the time. By lap 20, he was two seconds behind Collins, with Hawthorn a further three seconds up the road. Dispatching Collins, losing a place to him, and passing him back in the space of less than a lap, Fangio then pounced on Hawthorn. Pinning him to the outside line through a particularly treacherous curve in order to reduce the chance that Hawthorn would have a chance respond, Fangio took the lead and the win. Years later, Fangio claimed he never pushed a car so hard or asked so much of it as he did in those final 11 laps, drawing on courage even he didn’t know he had. This race was his masterpiece, and he and the 250F became legends.

… and Reborn

It took Andy Peace seven years to bring his dream to reality. With the help of owners, Peace was able to photograph, measure and study the iconic 250F from every angle. Armed with this information, he set out to find an inline six-cylinder engine of the proper size and output for his recreation. He found it under the hood of an E30 BMW. “The first car uses BMW mechanicals,” says Peace, “and the engine is standard apart from the addition of three Weber 40DCOE carburetors and remappable ignition.” Throttle bodies and fuel injection are available as no-cost options, but where is the romance in that? No electronic controller, no matter how reliable, is as seductive as six polished air intake trumpets nestled inside an aluminum air box.

“We used the BMW straight six for several reasons,” says Peace. “First, it is dimensionally almost identical to the original Maserati straight six, has legendary reliability, and parts are both freely available and cost effective. Second,” he continues, “it also produces enough power for the car, which has an all-in weight minus fuel of 680 kg (1,499 lb.).” It should give the car startling acceleration, despite the skinny tires on 6 x 16-in center-lock wire wheels. The motor also is mated to a five-speed Getrag gearbox, giving the owner one more gear than Fangio had.

The lightweight steel spaceframe supports a double-wishbone independent suspension vaguely similar to that found on the original up front. In the back, however, Peace continues the double-wishbone format, doing away with the DeDion rear axle of Fangio’s day. The wheelbase has been stretched five inches so that taller drivers like Peace (he’s 6’ 3’’) can fit comfortably. This increase led to other slight changes, making the hand-formed aluminum body 10-in. longer than the 1957 original on which Peace’s car is modeled. Yes, it can be built to the original dimensions, but who really cares? This is a labor of love, an homage to a legend, not a tool room copy. As such, it is a work of art in its own right.

The £75,000 Question

That’s nearly $118,000 or €85,600, if you have to ask. And though Peace says, “The North American market is certainly an avenue we’d like to go down,” he hasn’t studied the logistics involved yet. He can’t. He doesn’t have the time. Though it took 14 months to build the car you see here, Peace and his crew are starting on three more chassis in anticipation of a surge in orders. The car officially launched three weeks ago at the National Exhibition Center (NEC) in Birmingham, and “reaction far exceeded our expectations,” says Peace. Currently quoting 8 – 10 months from order to delivery, he expects this will change as orders come in. Plus, to quote Peace, “As wth any hand-built car, many things can be altered to customer requirements. Within reason we can accommodate most things.” Road legal in Britain, the Tipo 250 is a turn key classic one can only hope makes its way across the Atlantic.

For more information, visit: http://www.tipo250.co.uk.

Reader Comments (2)

This Tipo 250 GP car is really stylish and awesome. It is really eye catching and I am fanning it from now. Yes I am completely agree with the author of this post that every one has a dream and some of us get the chance to fulfill the dream. But really Andy Peace is a blessed person I want to say for fulfilling his dream of getting this Tipo 250. It is really an awesome one. I have watched the videos and photos posted here and all are fabulous giving proper information related to this Tipo 250 GP car.

October 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDanish Rich

These expensive replication projects are probably harmless if the hard parts came from a scrapyard, and the exteriors are accurately rendered. Hopefully the engineering expertise is up to the task of making them safe, but really a hobbyist has little means of obtaining a worthy result unless the critical suspension pieces and anchorages are as originally. Puiting the result on track with priceless vintage ones is still normally frowned upon. Understand that a recent ripoff of the Mercedes Gullwing was confiscated and legally destroyed by agents of Daimler for some far fetched infringement decision in some unspecified country. I suppose the foregoing is already understood by most folks, yet some projects do reach a proper conclusion. This one looks okay to me, but Fiat/Ferrari and Maserati all still exist, unlike some other alternatives. Visit my FB blog, Looking Back Racing to find some of those if you need inspiration….

February 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteronaroll

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