One car which raised a few eyebrows and many questions was this Serenissima, first seen after forty years at the Concours Villa dEste. It seemed to possess all the hallmarks of a winning racecar, but sadly, it’s sucess was limited to a footnote in McLaren history.
The Jet Competitzione was commissioned by Count Giovanni Volpi for his Scuderia Serenissima racing team. At the time, Serenissima had already made many interesting one-of cars including the Breadvan, one of the most exciting modified Ferraris. However, the Jet Competitzione was entirely new, and built from the bottom up by ex-Fiat and Ferrari designer Alberto Massimino.
At the center of the Jet was a new engine designed by Massimino for Count Volpi’s many motoring interests. This three liter V8 was connected to an all new transmission, and was designed to work both in Automobili Serenissima’s road and racing cars. For the later, the V8 was surrounded by a space frame chassis and aluminum body shell which was going to contest the worlds greatest endurance races. The car was developed by Elf Francis who was Stirling Moss’s racing mechanic.
Unfortunately, the Jet only made it to the Le Mans april tests of 1966 before it was decommissioned and raced only once in Italy. A sister 3.5 litre open-top car, called the 358V Spyder, did make the actual race, but retired after only one lap with rear axle problems.
Wanting Formula One exposure, a deal was hit up with McLaren to use the V8 engine in his 1966 M2B chassis. While it powered to McLaren’s very first world championship point, the engine was unreliable and BRM units were tried in the following year.
After a forty year hiatus, a Swiss owner reunited a similar engine with the original Jet body (chassis #003)and debuted the restoration for the 2006 Concours Villa d’Este. Since the car was never really raced, it still bears original paint and interior.