February '17

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FEBRUARY 2017 THE SHOP 27 \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ PERFORMANCE lined up neatly on his immaculate shop floor. "We specialize in Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Aston Martin and Jaguar," de Groot notes, "but we will take on other prized marques." Those other marques have ranged from a Facel Vega to a Fiat Jolly. In casual conversation, de Groot most often refers to his own creation as "my little blue roadster." His blog sometimes calls it the Mazzer, but he emphasizes that it "is not a replica, and does not pretend to be a Maserati. Rather it's a deliberate union of vintage and modern elements and style." Kind of like a hot rod. Mazzer was inspired by the 1957 Mase- rati 450S sports racing car, which rivaled contemporary Ferraris for speed, de Groot says. Powered by a 420-hp, 4.5-liter V-8, the 450S earned two outright victories for Maserati in the 1957 World Sports Car Championship: the 12 Hours of Sebring, driven by Juan Manuel Fangio and Jean Behra; and the Swedish 1000km, piloted by Stirling Moss and Harry Schell. A third win at Caracas, Venezuela would have earned the manufacturer's trophy for Maserati. But a Murphy-esque cavalcade of catastrophe, including multiple crashes and a pit fire, benched the entire Maserati team, and the championship that year went to Ferrari. Maserati also sold a handful of 450S race cars to private parties. One of these was campaigned, in SCCA in 1957, by Carroll Shelby, and others continued to race well into the 1960s. As far as we could deter- mine, the last time a 450S changed hands was at an RM auction in 2014, where the hammer fell at $4.8 million. Of course, de Groot could have drawn inspiration from an even more famous Maserati. "Everybody talks about the Birdcage (the four-cylinder Tipo 60/61 of 1959-61), but I don't think it's as attractive." Moreover, his blue roadster boasts a gen- uine connection to the 450S. Although Maserati retired from international racing after the 1957 season, the company con- tinued to develop its competition V-8 for luxury grand touring duty. In fact, the large and luxurious Mase- rati Quattroporte of 1979-'90 was still motivated by a direct descendent of this legendary power plant. MACHINED TO FIT And that's really where our story begins— in 1996, when de Groot acquired a semi- flooded and hopelessly rusted 1980 Quattroporte at a used-car auction. All he wanted from it were the "cool parts underneath, that looked like Italian Detroit Iron." That list included a double-wishbone front suspension derived from the De Tomaso Pantera (De Tomaso owned Mase- rati from 1976-'93); while the rear end, anchored by a limited-slip Salisbury center The day we visited, we spotted a Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster, a Lancia Flaminia Zagato, and an Arnolt Bristol on the shop floor. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ The "Mazzer" looks right at home lined up with a Lotus Elise and a Lamborghini Gallardo at a local car show. (Photo by Wil de Groot) This early Jaguar E-Type was just one of a couple dozen high-end collectibles being serviced at Exoticars USA on the day of our visit. Note the rare Arnolt Bristol roadster in the background.

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