The Maserati 450S ranks as one of the most valuable and sought-after racing cars from the late '50s era of motorsport. Only nine examples in total were constructed, and by the time they were eventually outmoded, they accrued an impressive thirty one victories in international competition. Only one, chassis #4501 ever ran as a coupe, beginning life as one of a group of factory roadsters.
In 1957, at the request of driver Stirling Moss, Maserati contracted noted DeHavilland Aircraft aerodynamicist Frank Costin to design a low-drag envelope body specifically for the twenty four hour race at LeMans. Costin's plans were then turned over to the Italian coachbuilding firm Zagato, who hurriedly built the body, 'interpreting' some of the design features along the way. Just prior to the LeMans race, Moss discovered that Zagato had neglected to install windshield wipers on the car, and a mad scramble ensued.
The new and untested coupe body actually proved slower than the open cockpit 450's but despite the shortcomings, Moss and co driver Harry Schell were running second until the transaxle let go. Keeping with practices of the period, the under-performing #4501 was essentially scrapped in favor of more advanced machinery.
After a fallow period, Maserati rebuilt the chassis around a new engine, and re-serialled it as #4512. Fantuzzi created a reinterpreted 'road going' body which incorporated a single piece windshield, fully upholstered interior, rear quarter windows, and increased the overall length by ten inches. After passing through several owners, the Costin-Zagato-Fantuzzi coupe underwent a full restoration and debuted at Pebble Beach in 2003, adorned in lovely new black paint work.
Motor City USA is a model building firm noted for its quality creations in 1:43 and 1:24 scale, most notably its group of three Talbot Lago Teardrop coupes. In 2005, Motor City unveiled its 1:12 scale 1957 Maserati Costin Zagato coupe to rave reviews. The model is impressive, measuring in at fifteen inches in length. While a curbside model, there is detail enough to please even a critical collector. Our model sports beautiful deep red paint work, and the racing roundels and taped headlight covers indicate that this is the 1957 LeMans entry.
A distinctive feature of the 450S roadsters is the plethora of vents, scoops and inlets in the body work, and the coupe follows suit as well. There are sixteen fully open vents in the model's panels, beautifully detailed hood straps secure the bonnet, while a perspex bug deflector resides in front of the driver. Those hastily-added windshield wipers are on the drivers side as well, and the windscreen itself is a two piece affair.
The cockpit is nicely detailed with chrome-bezeled instruments, a gated shift lever, simulated wood rimmed steering wheel with machined metal column, hub, and spokes. Corrugated fresh air tubing twists its way from under the dash, and a full pedal set resides in the footwell. Blue 'felt' covered racing seats contrast nicely with the aluminum colored interior.
Moving aft, the spare wheel is secured to the rear deck with a metal arm. The fuel, oil, and oil dip stick tubes are visible, and interestingly, the fuel filler cap and collar are actually mounted to the rear window. Our model has the oil dipstick pull ring intact, a tiny and fragile part that many of these models have lost throughout the years. The rear deck lid features a row of applied chrome rivets and the roundel has its night running lamp attached. The front and rear jack forks are in place, and the recessed rocker panels accommodate side exit exhaust headers on both sides. This model is in superb condition with the only flaw being a slight portion of the driver's side Maserati decal is missing.
This Costin Zagato is #19 in an edition of 499, although it is generally accepted that fewer than 50 of these models were ever created. This piece is a genuine 'time warp' model, and is supplied with its original factory packaging. It is a fantastic model, incredibly rare, and perfectly suited to the collector who desires something quite out of the ordinary.