Tony O'Kane | Jan 19, 2009

What's the world's best-ever race car? Jaguar's D-Type? Sadly not. The Le Mans-conquering Mazda 787B? No dice. Skaifey's Commodore? Err, nope.

According to readers of British enthusiast mag Octane, the world's best racing car is the Maserati 250F - a vintage Formula One open-wheeler that blitzed the world's circuits over half a century ago.

While it may lack the complex electro-gizmology of modern F1 cars and the rollover protection of, well, pretty much any normal car, the 250F was without doubt one of the best racers of its day.

Early cars were powered by a 164kW 2.5-litre straight six, while later variants sported a 235kW V12. A lightweight tube frame chassis and wafer-thin bodywork ensured that power-to-weight ratios were sky-high too, but just don't think about what happens when you capsize it...

Maserati 250F

Aside from winning several Grand Prix races, the 250F also won accolades from the likes of Stirling Moss, Juan Manuel Fangio and even that most lovable of oafs, Jeremy Clarkson.

Nick Mason (below), drummer of Pink Floyd and notorious classic car nut, is also a fan of the 250F and brought his own pristine example to the Royal Automobile Club headquarters in London, where Octane held their own celebration in honour of the car.

Maserati 250F

“The Maserati 250F is the archetypal Grand Prix car and, apart from being one of the most beautiful, it is one of the most progressive and forgiving of racing cars to drive," Mason said.

"Who can forget what must be the most iconic of motor racing images – Fangio in a full power-slide at the French Grand Prix in 1957, with battle scars evident on the nose?"

The Maserati 250F beat eight other classic racers in Octane's poll, including the Auto Union Type C, Lotus 49, Porsche 917, Cobra, Mercedes-Benz W196 and Toyota TS010 Group C.

All worthy competitors, but what's your personal race car fave? Is the Maser too old-hat? Have your say in the comments section below.

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