Carroll Shelby – The Edgar Ferrari and Maserati Years Page Six
Ironically, Shelby’s drives at the April ‘58 Palm Springs National—Sprint in the 450S, Main in the 410—were the last times he would race a Ferrari and Maserati for John Edgar. Gurney would DNF our 450S at Tracy, California in May ’58. The Maser’s engine expired under Woods at Riverside in June ’58, and Landaker implanted a 6.3-liter Pontiac V8 in the car, while later still it underwent a conversion to a 5.7-liter Maserati marine engine. Neither power plant proved successful. The last race for the Edgar Maserati was Daigh’s DNF when the transaxle let go at Riverside’s Times Grand Prix on October 11, 1959. Early in 1960, my father, after fielding his remarkable sports car équipe for the past ten years, got out of the game entirely when he sold all of his race cars and interest in Riverside Raceway.
About my father’s big 4.5-liter Maserati and driving it in the 1950s, Shelby has told me, “I thought the four-five, especially after the 5.7 engine was put in it, was probably the end of the line for the big sports cars—and it was the best one. It handled good and I won a lot of races in it.” Shel then gave his stamp of approval for the car, never done unless he truly meant it, saying, “I liked it.”
Carroll Shelby’s final win in a sports car, a year after he and Roy Salvadori won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959 co-driving an Aston Martin DBR1, occurred at Continental Divide, Colorado in a Meister Brau Scarab on June 26, 1960. Prophetic in what Shelby would later do with his Cobras, Ford GTs and Mustangs, that Scarab was American made with an American motor.
At Laguna Seca four months later, on October 20th, Shelby drove his last ever sports car competition in a Tipo 61 “Birdcage” Maserati owned by Frank Harrison, finishing an overall second after two demanding 102-mile heats. His life-long heart condition by then had made driving an exhausting effort, and during this farewell pursuit he used nitroglycerin pills to get him through the race to his final checkered flag.
Where are the Shelby-driven ex-John Edgar Ferraris and Maseratis today? Our old Ferrari 857S (serial number 0588M), for a while owned by Andy Warhol, has recently been restored to its April 1956 Edgar team condition and livery, superbly executed by David Cottingham’s DK Engineering in England. The Ferrari 410 Sport (s/n 0598CM) belongs to Roger Willbanks, who displays the car at the Shelby American Collection in Boulder, Colorado. The 300S Maserati (s/n 3071) is in New York, owned and vintage raced by Tony Wang. The 450S Maserati s/n 4506 (factory renumbered from s/n 4505), after a list of post-Edgar owners, went to a former president of Bugatti Automobiles, Dr. Thomas Bscher, who has driven it many times in European historic races. The Le Mans-winning 375 Plus (s/n 0396AM), though never raced by Shelby but frequently an Edgar team paddock stand-by, became a celebrated jewel in the Pierre Bardinon collection near Aubusson, France.
As a matter of fate, none of these cars were locked away in a barn and the key given to me. I never owned any of them, but hold each in lasting memory, as I also cherish those times and places that made up Carroll Shelby’s Edgar Ferrari and Maserati Years in the mid-to-late 1950s. To quote Ol’ Shel on the subject, he once told me in that gravely drawl of his, “It’s an era that’s gone and won’t ever come back.” I like it that it was he and my father who did so much to make it happen, and that I could be there for it.
[Source: William Edgar; photo credit: Edgar Motorsport Archive]