The trouble with so many shots of Maria Teresa de Filippis is that many were shot by non-racing photographers so are devoid of the detail we want!…

‘Maria Teresa with racing car’ is about as precise as it often gets, it gives we amateur historians a research challenge I guess. Having trawled through the ‘F2 Register’ Formula Junior Archive as best I can (although the listing for this event does not include competitor numbers) this is the ‘Confronto Nord-Sud’ contested at Vallelunga on 1 November 1958. Lucio de Sanctis won the final in his own de Santis Fiat with Maria Teresa 4th in the first heat and 6th in the final. I wrote a short article after de Filippis died last year, click here to read it;

The car behind Maria Teresa is another Stanguellini, unfortunately the mid-engined car has been largely cropped out of the shot, ‘twould be interesting to know what it is if any of you FJ experts can identify the machine.


MTdF in her Stanguellini at Vallelunga in 1958 (Popperfoto)

Formula Junior had 11 events in 1958, 9 of them in Italy, the category’s champion was Count Giovanni Lurani an Italian who saw the need for a relatively inexpensive entry-level single-seater class. The category was for cars with engines of 1100cc and a minimum weight of 440Kg (their was a 1000cc class as well with a lower weight limit) exploded in 1959 with meetings all over Europe, the UK from mid-year and a couple towards the end of the year in the US.


Count Giovanni ‘Johnny’ Lurani, here in the mid-30’s, was an Italian auto engineer, driver and journalist who raced Salmson, Derby, Alfa and Maserati’s after graduating in engineering at the Politecnico di Milano. He won his class in the Mille Miglia thrice and founded Scuderia Ambrosiana in 1937. Post WW2 he worked with the FIA, his credits include the creation of FJ in ’59 and the GT Class in ’49. He also designed record breaking motorcycles and was president of the FIM in a life of achievement (ISC Images)

The category was immensely successful largely due to a progressively more buoyant post-war global economy, improving personal incomes and the arrival of consumer credit which meant young aspirants to Fangio’s world crown could buy a car.

There was plenty of choice of weapon too as builders of chassis and related componentry popped up all over the joint from Australia to Russia. An article on FJ and its incredible growth is an interesting one for another time!


Stanguellini factory in Modena with a swag of FJ’s lines up out front in 1959 (

Stanguellini were beautifully placed to build cars for Formula Junior given their rich history of racers based on the Fiat parts bin…

That glib phrase does not do the heritage of this firm justice however, click on this link to the marques website which provides a great summary of their cars and engines since the 1930’s, the photographic archive is also rich, take the time to cruise through it;

The ‘Stang’ is often often said to be a mini-250F but its as much Vanwall or Lotus 16, either way those comparisons don’t do justice to a car which has a beauty all of its own.


Stanguellini Fiat FJ cutaway drawing, all the key elements of the car clear and as described in the text (unattributed)

Vittorio Stanguellini engaged Alberto Massimino who was very clever in his design approach; its not innovative in terms of its ladder frame chassis, or choice of front-engined layout although the first cars appeared in late ’57 or ‘early ’58, the ‘Cooper Revolution’ wasn’t necessarily clear at that exact moment in time. A year later the mid-engined trend was, but the Stang with its circa 80bhp, twin Webered 1098cc pushrod engine was the most competitive thing around in 1958 and 1959.

In part it was due to a clever layout which provided the driver a low driving position, getting the weight down by the use of an offset drive line, the Fiat 4 speed gearbox kinked to the right, the driver to the left. The cars had conventional upper and lower wishbone front suspension and a Fiat live axle nicely located with parallel trailing arms and sprung by coils, co-axial shocks were used front and rear. The ‘look’ was completed by the use of Borrani 12 inch wire-wheels, brakes were finned Fiat 9.8 inch drums front and rear. The wheelbase was 79 inches, front and rear track 48 inches.


Snug cockpit of Norm Falkiners Stanguellini FJ in late 2015, offset transmission to get the driver down nice and low clear . Engine and ‘box Fiat 4 speed (Bisset)

None of these Stanguellini’s raced in Australia ‘in period’ but Melbourne driver Norm Falkiner imported one a decade or so ago. I happened to be testing my Van Dieman RF86 Historic Formula Ford at Calder when its restoration was just completed by Jim Hardman, who still fettles it. These mixed track days are interesting to see how different cars do their stuff (or not!) up close, I can still recall how nice the thing put its power down and how much punch it seemed to have, I could hear the little Fiat engine buzzing to circa 7500rpm each time I ranged up near it. It was less impressive under brakes, but chances are they were still being sorted.

Maria-Teresa’s views on the ‘Stang relative to the GP machines she was piloting at the time would be interesting!


de Filippis in her 250F at Spa in 1958, 11th in the Belgian GP won by Tony Brooks Vanwall VW57 (unattributed)

Robert Lippi won the Italian Championship in 1958 and Michel May won both the ’59 Monaco FJ GP and ‘Auto Italiana International Championship for Drivers’ and Stanguellini the ‘Quattroroute International Championship of Makes’. The ‘Campionato Italiano’ went to Stanguellini driver Raffaele Cammarota.

In 1960 things got tougher. The Brits ran their first championships for the class, Chapman’s mid-engined Lotus 18 was just as quick with an 1100 Ford bolted into the back of it as a 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF. It and the Cooper T52 BMC made the pickings tougher for the ‘front-engined brigade the best of which that year was perhaps the Lola Mk2.


The GP Icecar, Cortina 17/18 January 1959. In Italy racing on ice was a novelty, circuit at Monti Pallidi, contestants line up for the first heat. L>R Stanguellini Fiat’s of Crivellari, Zanarotti and De Carli. At right the VW based Mathe VW of Otto Mathe. The final was won by Manfredini’s Wainer Fiat (Stangullini)

In 1960 Colin Davis Osca Fiat won the ‘Campionato A.N.P.E.C/ Auto Italiana d’ Europa’ from Jacques Cales Stanguellini Fiat, Denny Hulme in a Cooper T52 BMC and Lorenzo Bandini, Stang Fiat.


Beautiful period shot; Michel May lines up his #33 Stang Fiat FJ on the front row of the second heat of the Trofeo Vigorelli, Monza on 24 April 1960, which he won. 2nd in the ‘final 2’ . Car #57 alongside is Rob Slotemaker’s Cooper T52 DKW (

That FJ was nurturing drivers of great talent is shown by the fields of the 1960 championship which included Henry Taylor, Giancarlo Baghetti, John Love, Gerhard Mitter, ‘Geki’ Russo, Kurt Ahrens, Trevor Taylor, Jo Siffert, Peter Arundell, Ludovico Scarfiotti and Jim Clark, to name a diverse global few!

Clark won the ‘BRDC/Motor Racing’, ‘British FJ Championship’ and ‘John Davey British FJ Championship’ aboard his works Lotus 18 Ford and Peter Arundell the ‘BARC Championship’ in the other works 18.


Jim Clark happy after winning the ‘Kentish 100 Trophy’ at Brands Hatch 27 August 1960, Lotus 18 Ford (Lee)


Stanguellini rose to the mid-engined challenge, building the multi-tubular chassis Delfino FJ. Again Fiat engined, but inclined at 45 degrees, it had a very distinctive high mounted exhaust. By 1962 Cosworth modified Ford engines were well out of the Fiat’s reach, the car had little success, with Stanguellini losing interest in the class.


Colin Davis testing the Stanguellini Delfino Fiat at Modena in winter 1962, distinctive exhaust system clear. ‘Sharknose’ styling modelled on Carlo Chiti’s 1961/2 Ferrari 156 F1 machine (



Botti, Popperfoto, Lee,, F2 Register, ISC Images

Tailpiece: Maria-Teresa helping get her Stanguellini into position at Vallelunga, car behind a 250F. I’ve a feeling the ‘ogling fans in the background are focused on the lines of the lady not her car…





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