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Coachwork by Fiandri
The Beels Racing Team
Between 1953 and 1954, Maserati began to develop a new sports racing car to contend in the popular 1,100 cc–1,500 cc category, a hotbed for amateur racing drivers. Competing directly with the OSCA MT4 and Porsche’s new 550 Spyder required a new, specialized chassis – one that could also serve as a basis for a two-liter sports car. From this project, the 150S and the 200S were born.
Beginning in 1953, Vittorio Bellentani developed a suitable engine based on the exotic twin-supercharged 4CLT/48 Monoposto. The aluminum four-cylinder engine was a real jewel, incorporating all the latest highperformance features, including dry-sump lubrication, gear-driven twin overhead cams, hemispherical combustion chambers, and twin-plug ignition fired by Marelli magnetos. With an ultra-light crankshaft and large Weber twin-choke carburetors, the 1,484 cc engine developed 130 bhp at 7,500 rpm, a figure that was later increased to 140 bhp.
After testing the driveline during winter 1953, a new tube-frame chassis was developed by famed engineer Valerio Colotti. Lighter and stronger than the contemporary A6GCS, the 150S benefited from Maserati’s acclaimed double-wishbone front suspension, finned drum brakes, and an advanced De Dion tube rear end. Overall, the chassis was extremely robust and offered very predictable handling on almost any surface. Developed in tandem with the 300S, the 150S was, in essence, a scaled-down version of its three-liter cousin and was attractively finished with coachwork by Fiandri and Fantuzzi.
The 150S made its racing debut at the 1955 Nürburgring 500 Kilometers, the ideal venue for a small-displacement sports car with superior handling qualities. With factory driver Jean Behra behind the wheel, the new four-cylinder Maserati broke the existing 1,500 cc lap record by nine seconds and upset von Frankenburg’s Porsche 550 Spyder.
Following the race, Maserati secured numerous orders for their new model and, between 1955 and 1956, 27 examples were built. The 150S proved extremely popular with privateers and achieved impressive results in a wide variety of events, from SCCA class wins to a 9th overall finish at the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The history of this 150S, chassis no. 1667, can be traced back to its first owner, Lex Beels, a successful Dutch enthusiast best known for racing Cooper 500s in Formula 3 events throughout England and Europe.
On March 28, 1956, Lex Beels visited the Maserati factory, where he test drove a 150S at the Modena autodrome and confirmed his order for the 1,500 cc sports car. Completed in May 1956, chassis 1667 is a late-production 150S with such improvements as a five-speed synchromesh gearbox and stylish coachwork by Carrozzeria Fiandri, distinguished by its aerodynamic headrest and tailfins. Finished in Maserati racing red and outfitted with Jaeger instruments, Cibiè headlights, and Pirelli Stelvio tires, the new 150S was the finest sports racing car one could buy for 4,500,000 lire.
Collected at the factory and equipped with a package of spares (four valves, one piston, and one tachometer), the Beels Racing Team Maserati made its competition debut at the Zandvoort Whit Monday race on May 21, 1956. Driven by Hans Tak, winner of the 1955 Tulip Rally, the 150S wore race number 73 and placed 3rd in the 1,500 cc sports car class.
The following week, 1667 was entered in the ADAC Nürburgring 1,000 Kilometers, Round Four of the World Sports Car Championship. With Hans Tak and Henk van Zalinge behind the wheel, Lex Beels’ 150S was pitted against a competitive field that included works entries from Maserati, Ferrari, Porsche, Jaguar, and Aston Martin. In a race that saw the factory-entered Maserati 300S take the checkered flag, the 150S was disqualified on lap 22 for assistance.
After the team’s outing at Nürburgring, Beels returned the 150S to the Maserati factory for various repairs and further race preparation. Though the car was entered in the Rouen Grand Prix on July 8, 1956, it was not completed in time and its next outing took place at the IX Gran Premio di Bari on July 28th. Once again entrusted to Hans Tak, the number 28 Maserati was driven to a credible 9th place finish in the under 2,000 cc class.
In August, Lex Beels returned to the factory in Modena and met with Maserati Technical Director Ing. Giulio Alfieri to discuss possible updates for his 150S. At this time, the engineers at Maserati confirmed that they would carry out adjustments to the front steering knuckle and shock absorber settings, suggestions of works driver Jean Behra. In addition to this work, Maserati checked over 1667, strengthened the rear differential, and increased the oil-cooling capacity.
When this was completed, the Beels Racing Team Maserati was campaigned at Djugardsloppet, Dessau, and finally Eläintarhanajo, where it encountered mechanical trouble.
In June 1957, 1667 returned to Modena where the engine was repaired with new components, including a new crankcase, oil sump, connecting rods, valves, and bearings. At this time, Beels also requested that the body be updated to comply with the new CSI rules – likely requiring changes to the windscreen and the fitting of a top. For unclear reasons, the bill was never paid and the 150S remained in storage at Maserati until spring 1959, when the factory asked that Beels collect his car due to space restrictions.
By 1963, 1667 had passed to Piet Peeperkorn, a Dutch resident who reportedly raced the Maserati for a brief period. In 1971, famed classic car hunter Rob de la Rive Box discovered the 150S in a Heemstede, Netherlands, laundromat, complete but with its engine disassembled. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, 1667 was kept in the hands of Italian collectors, including a Sig. Medici, Rosario Parasilliti of Sicily, and Nazario Bacchi of Forli.
In the late 1990s, the 150S was restored by Modense firm Carrozzeria Ferrari Jeris Srl. and subsequently sold to Maserati collector Clive Smith. During his ownership, Mr. Smith had the Maserati mechanically prepared by Hall & Hall and participated in a number of important historic events with the car, including the Mille Miglia and the Phillips Island historic races.
The current owner, a connoisseur of Italian sports cars, recently commissioned the respected UK firm Brazell Engineering Limited to perform an extensive cosmetic restoration and mechanical check over.
During this process, 1667 was taken down to bare metal so that every aspect of the car could be addressed. Once disassembled, the 150S was found to be remarkably original throughout, retaining its matching-numbers engine and original Fiandri coachwork.
After careful research, the front nose and rear wings were re-profiled and a singlescreen configuration was fashioned as per original specification. The dashboard and interior panels were restored as needed and, to better enable a quick change to a two-seater configuration for easy usage on driving events, such as the Colorado Grand and Mille Miglia, a short tonneau panel was fashioned with a full passenger screen. With the bodywork prepared, the Maserati was refinished in its correct 1956 factory colors and detailed with an emphasis on originality.
In addition to this meticulous work, Brazell Engineering Limited fitted a period-correct cloth-covered wiring loom and carried out a full suspension and steering-rack test with full aircraft certification to confirm the findings. As a result of these tests, a new pair of front stub axles and a track adjuster was manufactured, and the rear suspension was reverted back to correct Houdialle-type dampers as per current FIA regulations. Finally, the engine, gearbox, and rear axle were all carefully inspected and found to be in good order. In total, approximately £75,000 was spent in recent restoration work and Dave Brazell reports that “the car is ready for historic races and rallies that any prospective customer may wish to compete.”
Thanks to an unblemished history, limited racing record, and responsible stewardship in the hands of knowledgeable collectors, 1667 remains an ideal representative of Maserati’s famed 1,500 cc sports racer. As many examples suffered damage, modification, and neglect, this car must be one of only a handful of these important Maserati sports racers to retain its original chassis, engine, and the majority of its aluminum Fiandri coachwork.
Offered with comprehensive history reports produced by Maserati historians Adolfo Orsi and Walter Baumer, as well as copies of all factory records dating from 1956 to 1963, 1667 is bound to impress the most discerning enthusiast with its outstanding documentation, period racing record, and originality. In its current condition, it would be quite a challenge to fault the overall presentation of this 150S. Restored to an exceptional standard and maintained by the best UK specialists, this Maserati has a visual appeal and mechanical preparation that would be difficult to improve upon.
Today, these rare Maserati sports racers remain versatile, as they are eligible for the best historic events, from the Colorado Grand to Le Mans Classic. Easily prepared for road use, the 150S can also be enjoyed on weekend outings through the countryside and will always stand out at major international concours. Beautifully engineered and constructed with exceptional attention to detail, these Maseratis are brilliant driver’s cars, offering a visceral behind-the-wheel experience and an unforgettable sound.
To find a 150S as pure, correct, and well prepared as 1667 would pose a serious challenge. The new owner will be acquiring not only a 1950s sports racing car of the highest quality and distinction, but also a real piece of Maserati’s legendary competition history.