WINDS OF CHANGE
In 1955, Maserati began a new phase of racing sports car production, segueing away from the aging A6GCS/53 and A6G/54. While the time-honored inline six-cylinder engine was retained as the basis for the 3-liter 300S, that engine was modified into a twin-plug four-cylinder variant with two different displacements of 1.5 and 2 liters, resulting in the respective 150S and 200S models. Both racecars were clothed in sensuous open coachwork by Medardo Fantuzzi that was characterized by sweeping fender lines, a protruding small-mouth grille, and a trailing head fairing, lending the cars an aesthetic appeal worthy of their competition-bred mechanicals.
Despite some early teething problems, the 200S was piloted to a 2nd-place finish at the 1956 Gran Premio di Bari and an overall victory at the Gran Premio di Roma by the famed Jean Behra, and Stirling Moss and Cesare Perdisa finished 2nd overall at the 1956 Supercortemaggiore at Monza. In 1957, the FIA introduced new Appendix C regulations that compelled Maserati to modify the 200S with a full-width windscreen, two functioning doors, and provision for a spare wheel, after which the model was rechristened as the 200SI (with the suffix standing for Sport Internazionale). Later cars featured 2.5-liter engines and were renamed as the 250S, after which many of the original 2-liter cars were privately upgraded to 250S-specification engines.
By the end of production in 1957, approximately just 28 examples of all the 200 and 250-spec chassis were built, and these cars remain prized by collectors for their high-revving, torque-happy performance and voluptuous coachwork cues. Ideal for enjoyment at vintage racing and touring events, these unique racing spyders represent a golden age in the evolution of the Trident, when boutique hand-built production resulted in some of the most striking European sports-racers ever conceived.
GENTLEMEN PREFER REDS
Benefitting from 14 years of fastidious care by the current caretaker, this beautifully presented 200SI is one of only a handful of cars that retain a correct 2-liter engine, resulting in a highly desirable state of authenticity. Chassis number 2412 completed factory assembly in February 1957, finished in rosso paint over black upholstered seats.
Imported to the United States by the well-known Chicago-based dealer Harry Woodnorth, the Maserati was sold new to the legendary American racing privateer “Gentleman” Jim Kimberly, who was the scion of the Kimberly-Clark fortune (responsible for such household products as Kleenex tissues). A strong proponent of amateur racing, Kimberly was an early member and eventual president of the SCCA who went on to become the 1954 SCCA C-Modified class champion with his 4.5-liter Ferrari.
Kimberly had the 200SI repainted in his signature shade of Kimberly Red, a color he had formulated with the help of none other than GM design legend Harley Earl, and which he applied to most of the sport-racing Ferraris and Maseratis that he raced. The 200SI then debuted in competition at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 1957, with Ted Boynton, Kimberly, and famed journalist/racing driver Denise McCluggage sharing driving duties. Unfortunately, 2412 was forced to retire because of a gearbox failure after 58 laps.
The Maserati made three additional starts in 1957, all at Elkhart Lake, and during the last of these races Kimberly was joined by the accomplished Jack McAfee. During 1958, chassis number 2412 started seven events, including the Grand Prix of Cuba in February, and the 12 Hours of Sebring a month later. Yet despite Kimberly’s best efforts, the 200SI struggled to finish these races due to various mechanical issues. Driver Jay Middleton actually experienced the most success during this time, finishing 9th in class at Elkhart Lake in June 1958, and 3rd overall at the same track a month later.
In May 1958 Kimberly consigned the Maserati back to Harry Woodnorth, to sell for him and ensure the car found its next caretaker. While exact ownership history during the 1960s is currently unknown, by the early 1970s the car was owned by William Baker of Illinois. In December 1976 the 200SI was sold to Dr. Elliot Siegel of Chicago, and he went on to retain possession until November 1993, accounting for 17 years of dedicated single-owner care.
Acquired at that time by Jay Jessup of Charlottesville, Virginia, the Maserati was immediately inspected by Mike DePudja of Denver, Colorado, for the purpose of an extensive restoration, which was documented with photos and invoices now available on file. This work included replacing the original body panels with reproduction coachwork in proper aluminum alloy, as the owner intended to use the SI in vintage events but was keen to preserve the Fantuzzi body (the original panels are separately included in the sale). Upon completion of the refurbishment, Mr. Jessup enjoyed the car in the 2000 Monterey Historic Races.
In January 2005 the Maserati was acquired by Dr. Wolf Zweifler of Germany, and as demonstrated by further invoices he retained Tommaso Gelmini’s GPS Classic in Soragna, Italy, to maintain the car and prepare it for event use, including the 2005 Mille Miglia Storica. A year later, following a documented inspection by marque expert Steve Hart, the 200SI was sold to enthusiast Nick Colonna, who entered the car in a host of events through early 2009, including the Shell Maserati Historic Challenge, the Cavallino Classic, and the Monterey Historics. During his ownership the car was carefully maintained by Bert Skidmore’s Intrepid Motorsports of Reno, Nevada.
Acquired by the consignor in October 2009, the Maserati has continued to enjoy fastidious care over the last 14 years, including an engine rebuild by Mike DePudja from 2013 to 2014. The 200SI has not been used in any vintage racing events since the engine rebuild, suggesting that the car is well-positioned for a fresh chapter in its competition career.
Chassis number 2412 remains eligible for major events including the Mille Miglia Storica, the California Mille, the Colorado Grand, and the Monterey Historics, and it is equally suitable for presentation at high-level concours d’elegance and marque gatherings. It promises its future caretaker the considerable thrill of blasting through twisting vintage circuits, or the rapture of admiring its beguiling curves.