This car is part of Umberto Panini’s collection in Modena, and when you get inside his “museum”, you might notice that this Maserati is quite not like the others.
It was 1958 when Maserati received the offer from the ice-cream company Eldorado to build a special car for the 500 Miglia di Monza. Also called the Race of the Two Worlds, this competition was between American teams from the United States Auto Club (USAC) National Championship and the European teams from the Formula One World Championship.
After participating in the race in 1957, Maserati did build the one unit 420M/58 Eldorado which was then going to be driven in the circuit of Monza by Stirling Moss in 1958.
The car had a steel tubular chassis from the Formula One 250F and the 4.5 liters V8 from the 450S that was downsized to 4.2 liters. The engine was not the only modification that this Maserati had: the car was going to be driven at the oval of the Monza circuit for three heats of 63 laps, counterclockwise and at a top speed of 270km/h (167mph). So it had to be adapted. In fact, the driver seat was set on the right hand of the 420M/58. The front suspensions were double wishbone, while it had a DeDion axle at the rear. Also, the engine was 90mm off-set to the left and slightly turned to the right so it could be perfectly straight while driven at the oval and its liquids could flow without problems.
These specifications made this Maserati a special model, but what made this car unique was the fact that it was the first one to have a sponsor which was not involved in the car industry.
It appears that the 420M/58 Eldorado has only done the 500 Miglia di Monza. Stories also tell that the car would have travelled to the US to race the Indianapolis 500 in 1959, and that the team would have colored the car in red because they did not like the livery in white.
The Maserati had then returned to Italy, and has been bought by Umberto Panini many years later. He has restored the car to its original version with the white Eldorado livery, and it is now possible to see it in Modena, in his personal collection.
Many thanks to Fabio Collina and Ermanno Cozza from Maserati Classiche.