Posted by Dave Moore on 29 December 2015

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maserati 151You can buy most modern Maseratis from Euromarque, but here's one you can't!

This is the Maserati Tipo 151 which is said to be the first car to hit 300kmh on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans. With hefty V8 power, it was never able to win at the event, but it has to be one of the most striking competitors in an era - the mid-60s - when sports car racing got more publicity than Formula One.

The 151 was effectively built as the next logical step after the famous Tipo 61 Birdcage, Maserati. Just three Tipo 151s were originally built, for the 1962 season. Two 151s were sent to the US to be raced by Briggs Cunningham's operation. The illustrated car - numbered 002 by the Maserati factory was ordered and raced by Maserati France, in 1962. In 1963, 002 was extended with Drogo-style bodywork, it was further modified for 1964 and at Le Mans that year, it achieved its 300kmh clocking.

The Type 151s used a large, front mounted V8 engine supported by a ladder frame chassis design that was a simple recipe for LeMans. Using a Lucas fuel injected 4941cc engine that produced 430 bhp, the car's wheelbase and tracks were increased for the adoption of new 15 inch Borrani wheels and extra wide Dunlop tires. 

During LeMans in '64, the car it was rumoured to have actually reached an unratified speed of 315 kmh down Mulsanne. During the race it was immediately brought into the pits, and after a jammed throttle was sorted, Andre Simon and Maurice Trintignant fought their way back up through the entire field. During the night, electrical problems forced them to retire.

Unfortunately, the 151 programme was not rewarded with victories it deserved, although the cars almost always held a top position before retiring. Probably, if more had been made and entered in multiple numbers, it would have won many events. Instead only two cars were built beyond the original prototype. 


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