Entering his third and final season of motor racing American born Whitney Willard Straight decided to pull out all the stops and create his own Grand Prix team with Reid Railton and the Earl of Brecknock for 1934 called Whitney Straight Ltd.
The team ordered no less than three Maserati 8CM’s of which chassis #3011 was the first, featuring a narrow 1933 specification 20″ inch wide chassis and a 3 litre / 183 cui straight 8 motor designed by Alfieri Maserati who died early in 1932 just before the first 8CM was completed.
Unusually the 8CM was fitted with hydraulic brakes, a feature that had first been seen in the early 1920’s but an idea that had not been taken up by the likes of Bugatti on their Type 35’s for example.
Former Alfa Romeo mechanic Giulio Ramponi was employed to prepare the Straight cars and he was responsible for fitting a Wilson pre selector gearbox to #3011 and the remaining team cars.
To the best of my knowledge Whitney drove the white and blue painted #3011 exclusively in 1934 and after recording a speed of 135.49 mph over a flying mile at Brooklands he won four events 2 at Brooklands one at Donington and another in East London, South Africa.
At the end of the year Whitney retired from the sport as he had promised his wife and #3011 passed onto Harry Rose who recorded a class win on the Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb in 1935.
Richard Seaman, who had introduced Whitney Straight to motor racing while at Cambridge, drove #3011 to a victory at Donington Park in 1936 shortly before it was acquired by White Mouse Racing for the Siamese Prince Birabongse Bhanutej Bhjanubandh Bira.
Bira had the car painted blue and kept #3011 until 1947 winning events at Brooklands in 1937 and 1939 and following the end of hostilities recorded two second place finishes in the Brighton Speed Trials in 1946 and 1947.
Kenneth McAlpine of the construction empire bearing the same name became the next owner of #3011 and raced the now black car through 1948 wining the Weston Super Mare sprint on what appears to have been his final drive in the car.
In 1951 Leslie W. Boyce drove #3011, painted red, for a final appearance at the Brighton Speed Trials where he finished with 8th fastest time.
#3011 remained in the UK, spending some time on display in the Doune Motor Museum.
In the 1980’s #3011 went to San Francisco where it was reunited with it’s original motor that had been swapped out by Harry Rose in 1935.
Today #3011 is one of the 10, from the original 17, 8CM’s built known to remain.
#3011 is owned by Christopher Jaques and is seen with Robert Newall at the wheel during the 2012 Goodwood Revival where it was demonstrated with the Silver Arrow’s some of which it was designed to, unequally, compete against in 1934.