420M/58 (Eldorado)

Even though officially withdrawn from racing, Maserati was commissioned by ice cream company Eldorado Sud in 1958 for a car to compete in the second edition of the Race of Two Worlds. This 500-mile race was organised in an attempt to bring the European and American racing cultures together again, and the renewed Monza track with its high-speed oval was the ideal location for the event that hosted American single-seaters in Europe.

Maserati purpose-built the 420M/58, often simply called the Eldorado after its sponsor, for this race. The engine was derived from the unit used in the 450S sports car, with its capacity reduced to 4.2 litres to meet the Indycar technical regulations. Equipped with four twin-choke Webers, it produced so much power and torque that a two-speed gearbox sufficed; first gear was only used to take off from the pits. The final drive was solid and the typical Borrani wire wheels where replaced by Hallibrand alloys to cope with the high cornering forces typical of oval racing. The Eldorado used a modified version of the 250F chassis, in which the engine was offset to the left to improve balance when driving on a banking. A vertical stabilising fin was added, no luxury given its top speed of more than 350km/h.

Maserati’s former works driver Stirling Moss was signed up for the job, and even though the Americans had again the upper hand, he proved to be the quickest of the European entries. Unfortunately, the steering broke at 250km/h and Moss was lucky to walk away unhurt from what he later described as the scariest motor racing accident of his career.

The damaged car was rebuilt in the view of entering it in the 1959 Indy 500 race. Its body was modified and finished in red but still sporting the Eldorado sponsoring. The car was shipped to the U.S.A. and entered privately by Eldorado Racing. Sadly, problems related to fuel pick-up prevented it from qualifying for the race. The car was later fully restored to its original condition and is today part of the Umberto Panini Collection.

Vehicle type Tipo 420M/58
Chief engineer Giulio Alfieri
Engine 4.2L 90° V8 dry sump, 410hp
Transmission Two-speed + reverse gearbox, solid final drive (no differential)
Chassis Tubular steel frame inspired by the 250F chassis, engine 90mm offset to the left
Body Hand-crafted from aluminium by Medardo Fantuzzi
Vehicles produced 1 (chassis 4203)
Racing class Race of Two Worlds (Indycar regulations)
Competition years 1958-1959
Notable entrant teams Officine Alfieri Maserati / Eldorado Racing
Notable drivers Stirling Moss
Principal race results 500 Miles of Monza 1958 (7th place)