The Porsche 962 vs Maserati 300s debate is based on the fact that these two sports cars were iconic and legendary.
They have both taken part in creating a classic history of racing cars and sports car racing. They were both built to compete in top-class competitions by legendary race car drivers. Built almost 30 years apart, these two models were the best cars on the tracks in their respective years.
This article will dive into their historical background, why they were made, their specifications, and general comparisons.
Maserati 300s came first between 1955 and 1958. It was produced by Maserati and designed by Medardo Fantuzzi, an Italian automotive engineer who is famously known for his Carrozzeria Fantuzzi body workshop.
The racing car was well designed that Stirling Moss, Maserati’s number one driver during the 1956 championship, called it “the easiest, well balanced and nicest racing car ever made.” He later went on to say how the Maserati 300s was his favorite car of all time.
Stirling Moss wasn’t the only iconic racer who rode the 300s. Carol Shelby was another famous driver who rode the 300s, making it the most competitive race car of its time.
There were only twenty-six Maserati 300s cars produced between 1955-1959. Every successor variant was more sophisticated and powerful than its predecessor. The Maserati 300s’ prowess made it the main competitor of Ferrari in the World Sportscar Championship in the mid and late 1950s.
The 300s were built from the design of the Maserati 250F, specifically the 3-liter engine and straight-6 design. This car was meant to be a successor to the Maserati 250s, which was also developed from the award-winning Maserati 250F Grand Prix racing car.
As good as it was, the Maserati 300s performed poorly on the 1955 fifth season because of several mechanical issues. The team buckled down after the loss and made various modifications that won it the Nürburgring in 1956. It finished second in the competition, behind another Maserati, the 450s, which was specifically built for FIA’s World Sportscar Championship.
In 1957, the 300s were removed from the competitions and replaced with more superior models. The company ended up selling the last 300s that were left in stock to customers in America. This shift led to various modifications being made to the cars up to date. One such modification was the introduction of a V12 engine that modified the 300s into a Maserati 350s.
Coming to the Porsche 962, this exquisite racing car is world-renowned racing and a sexy beast. Built in 1984, the Porsche 962 was made to adhere to the IMSA’s GTP rules and regulations. That was not its only purpose, as it was later put in the Group C category of the European formula races.
The Porsche 962 is also referred to as the Porsche 962C because it participated in the European Group C formula races. The car became so popular among private owners that Porsche sold approximately ninety-one units. Private drivers and Porsche would later modify the 962 several times, increasing its competitiveness to the mid-1990s.
The car was a successor to the 956, which had already left long-lasting impressions in the endurance races. Unlike the 956, the 962 Porsche won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, not only once but three times. This made it one of the most excellent Porsche racing cars ever made.
The Porsche 956 had already left a mark, and every pro racer wanted it. However, due to the IMSA’s GTP rules and regulations, it wasn’t allowed to race in the North American region. Porsche came with the 962 as the solution, a decision that made them kings of the races. These two models left a massive impact on the World Endurance Championship during the mid and late 1980s.
Since these two vehicles are 30 years apart, the 962 is the best performer. With that said, it is prudent to note that these cars won’t be bought today for their performance. The most customer-centric thing about such vehicles is the classic looks and rich history bestowed upon such beautiful machines.
Below are a few of the specifications that can help you compare the two racing cars side by side:
|Porsche 962||Maserati 300s|
|Cylinder block material||Aluminum alloy||Aluminum alloy|
|Engine||Flat-six, KKK K36 turbocharger||Twin Plug Inline-6 engine|
|Valvetrain||DOHC two valves per cylinder||DOHC two valves per cylinder|
|Bore||3.74 inches||3.31 inches|
|Stroke||2,77 inches||3.54 inches|
|Maximum Power||650 bhp/ 484.7 kW at 7600 rpm||245 bhp/ 182.7 kW at 6200 rpm|
|Body frame||7-piece Kevlar body reinforced with carbon fiber and an aluminum sheet monocoque on top of steel bars.||Steel tube frames with an aluminum body|
|Front tires||Dunlop race slicks||550 x 16 Dunlop|
|Rear tires||Dunlop race slicks||550 x 16 Dunlop|
|Rear brakes||325 mm steel discs with four-piston alloy calipers||Hydraulic drums|
|Front wheels||13 x 16 inches||16.0 x 5.0 inches|
|Rear wheels||14.5 x 16 inches||16.0 x 5.0 inches|
|Suspension||Front: Wishbones with titanium coil springs over Bilstein gas dampers |
Rear: Wishbones that are lower with parallel upper links and titanium coil springs over Bilstein gas dampers.
|Front: Wishbones with coil springs and hydraulic shock absorbers|
Rear: De Dion-tube axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and hydraulic shock absorbers
|Steering||Rack and pinion||Worm and sector|
|Transmission||Five-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive||Four-speed manual transaxle transmission|
|Maximum speed||217 mph||180 mph/ 289 kph|
|Acceleration||0-100 mph in just 2.6 seconds||0-60 mph in just 5 seconds|
Riding the Porsche 962 is an exhilarating experience. The cockpit can get annoyingly warm, so much that one of the pro drivers, Derek Bell, said that riding in it was a debilitating experience. A friendly cockpit required the drivers to drink a lot of water to keep their bodies hydrated during the whole competition.
Getting onto the seat would require you to get over the wide sill and twist your body via the door cut-out. You would still need mechanics to put the seat belts, put water pipes through your helmet and connect the radio for communication.
The final step is to close the door and fasten the straps over your shoulder. To start the car, all you have to do is turn the key clockwise to ignite the engine. Follow the ignition by blipping the throttle and burst into the track. Ear protection is always essential in racing, and there is no exception here. The car lets out a loud snarl that will still pass through the ear protection but not loud enough to cause any damage.
One of the downsides of riding the Porsche 962 is that it starts to jump out of gears after a short ride. Moreover, the selection of the gears deteriorates till it is unreliable. The car had to be reworked, and each shift needed to be taken care of and tuned to precision.
Comparing the Porsche 962 vs Maserati 300s will show you why racing drivers preferred the Maserati. Maserati was very helpful in terms of manufacturing, modifications, and reliability. It is however, important to remember that these were years apart.
Riding the Maserati 300s was an experience next to no other due to the excellent handling it provided and the lightweight of the whole vehicle.
Even though it wasn’t as fast as the Porsche 962, the Maserati 300s topped the charts in terms of its speed in the late 1950s. Expert racers called it the strongest, most dependable, well-balanced, responsive, and unrelenting race car.
As stated earlier, Stirling Moss was a great advocate for the 300s. He wrote a diary in which he noted the incredible value the 300s had, “The 300s were my greatest drive, I had to switch from a Maserati 450s to the 300s because of mechanical faults. I thought I was finished but then got surprised when the car reached 6400 rpm and decelerated in just 250 meters instead of 500 meters that I usually get in the 450s”.
Suspension Design Comparison
As racing cars, these two models had to include heavy-duty and highly durable stiff suspensions. The Porsche comes with a front suspension made out of dual unequal wishbones with titanium coil springs over Bilstein gas dampers. The rear has lower wishbones with parallel upper links and titanium coil springs over Bilstein gas dampers.
The Maserati 300s, on the other hand, features a front suspension made from wishbones with coil springs and hydraulic shock absorbers.
To make sure the vehicle’s aerodynamics were not affected, Porsche utilized an adjustable rear suspension angle. That design helped keep the damper and coil springs out of the Venturi tunnels, thereby maintaining the aerodynamics.
The suspension on the 62 would stiffen when the car accelerated to top speeds. It would, however, soften when the car was turning corners at low speeds. Its suspension design not only absorbed shocks but also aided in its maneuverability.
Comfortable Design Comparison
One complaint that people had about the 956 was the positioning of the driver’s feet. In the 956 the driver had to place his feet in front of the axle at the front thereby becoming a hazard. Porsche improved this in the 962 by stretching the wheelbase of the car enabling it to adhere to the IMSA GTP rules.
Moreover, the cockpit in the 962 was extended further back to place the feet of the driver at the back of the front axle line.
Maserati 300s had three different body types; four interims, eleven short-nosed, and eighteen long-nosed. Safety and comfortability were not an issue in the 300s, its design was built to blend in with normal road cars whilst still being a racing car.
Porsche sold over 91 units of the 962, making it a trendy choice at the time. The teams that bought these cars were quick to modify them and make them their own. A great result of their ingenuity is the aerodynamic efficiency that was achieved.
The original car was still efficient in aerodynamics. Its body shell was made out of reinforced glass fiber engineered to create downforce. This design helped the car to stay grounded at high speeds.
The Porsche team also came up with the Venturi tunnels, which allowed air to come from the sides. The Venturi tunnels trapped air from the sides and sent it to the tunnel. The tunnel steadily expanded the air straight to the back of the car, creating better aerodynamics. Air pressure was lowered by these tunnels, causing the 962 to create downforce.
Another aerodynamic feature was the Gurney flap wing at the back, which stabilized the car.
Maserati had superb aerodynamics thanks to the company’s experience in the field. The body design was not just functional but also stylish. It features an extended snout for more airflow and downforce for gripping the track and road.
The 300s’ body was modified later on in 1957 to resembles the 200 Si, which improved the speeds and ground traction.
The Maserati 300s has a 2992 cc, DOHC inline six-cylinder engine. The Porsche 962’s engine blows the 300s out of the water with the 3-liter flat-6 Porsche 935 KKK K36 twin-turbocharged engine.
300s could produce a maximum speed of 180 mph while the 962 topped at a whopping 217 mph. The power from each of these was exceptional for their time. A score of 245 bhp on the 300s and 650 bhp on the 962 were not small numbers at the time.
Due to the driver’s feet behind the transaxle, the Porsche 962 is safer than the Maserati. When the Maserati came out, there were no regulations like Porsche 962 had to comply with. That means that the Maserati team did not prioritize the safety concerns.
However, due to its design and the fact that it is not built in the same aspect ratio as the Porsche, the 300s pose no significant safety issues.
The cherry on top is that these two vehicles can participate in several events on the road and track today.
When they came out, you would be able to buy any of these cars for approximately $14,000. Today, you can’t get the Maserati 300s for less than $6 million or the Porsche 962 for less than $1.25 million. As you can see, it is not the average Joe who will be able to afford such beasts.
The price may seem too inflated, but considering the vintage vibe and rarity of these cars, one can only understand the logic behind their prices. These were scarce vehicles then and are even more so today; getting your hands on one will be difficult, let alone paying for it.
Neither one of these vehicles are easy to maintain. This is because finding spare parts, paint colors, and the experienced person for the job is hard.
Another factor that will affect maintenance is the age of the machines. The cars’ components and general body frame are durable, but with regular use, the parts may break or deform.
Today, you will find that Porsche and Maserati are not among the top five racing car manufacturers. They have been beaten and surpassed by the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari. Regardless, the Porsche 962 and Maserati 300s left a mark on the race track. They were the best of the best in their era, with tons of praise and accolades from organizations to professional sports car racing drivers. Moreover, their style is unique and reminiscent of the old day; they are iconic and unforgettable.