Slightly surprisingly, given the rich heritage of the marque, these days there is no factory-owned Maserati Museum. However, lovers of the marque need not despair, as there is the next best thing, which is a privately owned collection of the cars which can be found on the outskirts of Modena, only a few kms away from the firm’s factory and headquarters. This is the Collezione Panini. It is a collection of world renown, and when you understand its history, it is clear why that should be.
Maserati was founded in Bologna in 1914 by Alfieri Maserati as a car repair workshop. Then, in 1926, the Maserati brothers took over Diatto, a small racing car manufacturing company from Turin. Drawing on their mechanical experience and with the materials available to them, that same year they built their first car, the “Tipo 26”. Since then, in the course of its long history, Maserati has kept the most significant vehicles produced in addition to the prototypes, creating over the decades, a collection of cars, engines and components which are unique and able to illustrate the historical, technical and design evolution of the company. In 1965, the Orsi family who owned the company, decided to open the Collection to the public following the criteria of a museum type collection, fitting out an exclusive area within the factory in Viale Ciro Menotti in Modena. From October 27 1965, the day of the official opening of the museum in the presence of the World Champion JM Fangio and the most important Italian journalists in this field, the Maserati Museum was visited by tens of thousands of people from all over the world.. Since that year, the Museum Collection was gradually improved, thanks to the restoration of some cars which were already part of the Collection, and enriched even further with new pieces including the famous Maserati 6 CM from 1936, a worthy representative of the history of the pre-war Maserati. In May 1993, F.I.A.T. bought Maserati from the De Tomaso Group through the acquisition of 100 % of the shares of Maserati SpA while the Collection, while still remaining on show within the company premises, remained in the possession of the Company’s existing and original Officine Alfieri Maserati S.p.a., which later became O.A.M. s.r.l. In December 1994, on the 80th anniversary of the founding of the vehicle manufacturer, an exhibition was prepared at the Bologna Motor Show and a new museum in the head office of the plant was opened. This museum had historic information panels, engines and some cars on display in chronological order to give all visitors the opportunity to experience a piece of Italian automotive history from Modena. In July 1996, De Tomaso legitimately requested that the cars and engines of the Museum Collection be returned. Maserati accepted the request, but purchased part of the Collection consisting of 15 engines which were then exhibited within the company premises in Modena, while on De Tommaso’s instructions, 19 cars were sent to England to be sold at auction in London. The auction was arranged by Brooks Auction house and was supposed to take place on 2nd December 1996. News of the forthcoming sale of the cars which would have caused the city of Modena to lose a heritage that was fundamental to the city, alarmed all those passionate about the cars as well as the local authorities and on 18th October 1996, the alarm was sounded. The Minister for Culture, Walter Veltroni, the Mayor of Modena, Giuliano Barbolini and local associations immediately got to work on finding a solution which would allow the recovery of this historical and cultural heritage which the city of Modena was in danger of losing forever. The problem was put to the Panini family and Umberto Panini immediately took action to prevent the historic Maserati cars from being lost. Thanks to the intervention of the Panini family, shortly before the fateful date, Brooks auction house announced that the Maserati Collection had been withdrawn from auction and was to return to the city of origin, housed in the premises owned by the Panini family. Since then, the Collection of 19 vintage Maserati cars and further additions to the collection have been displayed at the Museum known as CUP (Collezione Umberto Panini).
Although the collection is open to the public, and there are plenty of brown tourist road signs which will help you to find it, you can’t just turn up. You do need to make a reservation. When I was last on vacation in the area in 2007, I contacted the museum and got no reply, so did not go. Only on my return did I get a most apologetic email saying that they had been away and hoping that I had perhaps been able to visit anyway, so I am not sure how hard and fast the reservation requirement really is. When planning my September 2020 trip I did make a request, in plenty of time before travelling to Italy and almost by return got an email confirming the date and time of my visit. When I arrived, there were a couple of staff in the building, and I was the only visitor (of course everywhere was relatively quiet as this was still Covid-time) during the couple of hours I spent just marvelling at the fabulous cars on display. Here they all are:
Stars of the collection are the Maserati, of course. There are more than 19 of the now, as some more recent models have been added to the collection since the Panini family acquired those 19 cars. There are vast quantities of artefacts from the firm’s history displayed on the walls and in cabinets around the sides of the building, too, so there really is a lot to see. Discrete signage in Italian and English tells you what you are looking at. The cars are periodically loaned out to major events, so I have seen some of these cars at the Auto Moto d’Epoca in nearby Padova, amongst other places, but seeing them all together was really rather special.
Oldest pair of cars in the collection are a 1934 6C 34 and a 1937 6CM. Here is the 6C 34: From the 1934 season onwards Grand Prix cars were restricted by a maximum weight of 750 kg. With minor adjustments, Maserati existing 8CM was still eligible. Ernesto Maserati, however, believed that a more powerful engine than the three-litre, straight eight of the 8CM was needed to remain competitive. With weight a major concern, Maserati broke with convention and created an all-new straight six engine, which allowed for a larger displacement than a ‘four’, yet required less components than an ‘eight’. Even though it was Maserati’s first six cylinder engine, it did share components with the straight four developed during the 1933 season. The blocks were cast in pairs, so it was relatively straight forward to develop the straight six from the existing design. To allow for a high compression ratio, the cylinder block and head were cast in one piece. The three pairs were mounted on a lightweight crankcase made of the magnesium alloy elektron. Derived from the 2.5-litre 4C 2500 engine, the new straight six displaced just over 3.3 litres, which was soon after increased to 3.7 litres. The engine itself featured a twin overhead camshaft and two valves per cylinder. Mounted in front of the engine was a sizeable Roots-type supercharger, which helped boost the power to 270 bhp. The new ‘six’ was mated to a four-speed gearbox. Maserati’s emphasis was on the development of the engine and the first unit was mounted in an existing 8CM chassis. With his 8CM updated to 6C 34 guise, the new six-cylinder engine debuted at the 1934 Italian Grand Prix in September. The car proved more powerful but also more difficult to drive than the existing 8CM. Faced with strong opposition from the mighty German teams, Nuvolari managed to salvage a fifth place finish. Later in the year, Maserati completed the first complete 6C 34. This works car was successful only in minor events at Modena and Naples during the remainder of the 1934 season. Maserati built four more 6C 34s and also supplied one engine for a customer, who already had an 8CM. Success was very limited, with the car particularly hampered by the conventional chassis, whereas the rivals were running independent front (and rear) suspension. One was even raced by Achille Varzi in the Mille Miglia, complete with cycle fenders, but it failed to reach the finish. Maserati did not pursue this avenue any further as the attention switched to the new V8RI, which featured a new V8 engine and an independently sprung chassis. Despite the disappointing results of the 6C 34, Maserati would eventually produce a wide range of six-cylinder engined road and racing cars.
The Maserati 6CM is an Italian single-seater racing car, made from 1936 to 1940 for the Voiturette racing class. Twenty-seven were built on the Maserati 4CM frame, with front suspension as on the Maserati V8RI, and had a successful racing career from 1936 to 1939. The 6CM was introduced to the world at the 1936 Milan Motor Show. Maserati spent much of its early years manufacturing cars for privateers in the racing field. The Maserati 6CM is no exception. The engine consists of six cylinders in-line, with two overhead valves per cylinder. Also, the car has a Scintilla ignition system as well as a single Roots-type supercharger and a Weber carburettor 55ASI. The 6CM has a four-speed gear box plus reverse and was capable of 155 bhp at 6200 rpm in the first model (as stated above) but its output by 1939 was increased to 175 bhp at 6600 rpm. The 6CM’s dimensions are 3.72 metres (12.2 ft) long, 1.48 meters wide, and 1.2 meters tall. It contains a single 120-litre (31.7 gallon) gasoline tank. It has a wheel base of 2.49 metres (8 ft 2 in) with the front and rear tracks being equal at 1.2 meters. The tyres on the model are different from front to back, with the rear tyres being narrower and taller. It weighs 650 kilograms (1,430 lb). The 6CM was a successful car in the racing world. It held victories in Europe, which was a powerhouse at the time for grand prix racing. With the rise of Adolf Hitler in 1933, the racing world became even more competitive. Hitler wanted to prove that the Germans were the best at everything, including motor racing. Hitler funded both Daimler- Mercedes and Auto Union. This created the drive to make a better car for the grand prix circuit and thus, the 6CM was born. One of the twenty seven constructed, chassis 1532, was raced by Count Felice “Didi” Trossi to victory in four of the five races in which he competed. In the race he did not win he came second. The most “rewarding” race victory came at Monaco. Despite not winning with Count Trossi, chassis 1531 was highly competitive with American driver Harry Schell in big races such as at Monaco and Goodwood. Maserati’s “home track” in Modena was the home of victories for Maserati in the mid to late thirties. Modena was the site for three separate Maserati victories, one in the 4CM in 1935, and the 6CM was victorious in both 1936 and 1938. Most cars were sold to private owners such as Austin Dobson, Lord Howe and John Peter Wakefield. Among the private teams that ran 6CMs were Scuderia Ambrosiana and Ecurie Helvetica. Maserati’s works team also raced them successfully, including in the Grand Prix of Naples and the Targa Florio, with drivers Aldo Marazza, Luigi Villoresi and Ettore Bianco.
1953 A6GCS53 Berlinetta Pininfarina: In the early 50s, Maserati was not that well known outside its home land, but the 1953 A6 GCS changed all that, setting a new standard in the 2000cc class, which was becoming increasingly popular, and with which Ferrari was not that involved. The new 2 litre engine was a big improvement on what had gone before, and following the arrival of ex-Alfa Romeo designer Gioachino Colombo, Maserati introduced ovoid chassis tubing, as experimented with by Touring. Cocahbuilder Medardo Ffantuzzi translated Colombo’s ideas into beaten aluminium, with the car’s sleek lines – made possible by the straight six’ low profile – proving both practical and beautiful. The engine was based on Alberto Massimo’s twin cam, but revised with the cast-iron liners exposed to cooling water and a nitride-alloy steel crankshaft supported by seven Vandervell thin-wall bearings. The claimed 170 bhp was achieved with a low compression ratio, a consequence of the poor quality fuel available. The tubular chassis was all new, with the suspension derived from Maserati’s F2 experience, with the addition of front and rear anti-roll bars. The car went on to become a racing trainer for the likes of de Graffenried, de Portago, de Fillipis, Bracco, Maglioli, Ascari and Valenzano. 52 of these cars were built between 1953 and 1955. This A6GCS/53 Berlinetta by Pinin Farina, chassis number 2056, was first owned by Count Paolo Gravina di Catania. The Count entered it in the 1954 ‘Giro di Sicilia’ but unfortunately crashed, his co-driver losing his life in the accident. The car was returned to the factory for repair. The Count on hearing the high cost of repairs donated the car to the factory.
1954 A6G 2000 Allemano: After a two-year hiatus at the 1954 Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris Maserati launched a new grand tourer, the A6G 2000 Gran Turismo—commonly known as A6G/54 to distinguish it from its predecessor. It was powered by a new double overhead camshaft inline-six, derived from the racing engines of A6GCS and A6GCM, with a bore and stroke of bore 76.5×72 mm for a total displacement of 1,985cc. Fed by three twin-choke Weber DCO carburettors it put out 150 bhp at 6000 rpm, which gave these cars a top speed between 195 to 210 km/h (121 to 130 mph). Dual ignition added in 1956 increased power to 160 bhp. Four body styles were offered: a three-box Carrozzeria Allemano coupé (21 made, designed by Michelotti), a coupé and a Gran Sport Spyder by Frua (7 and 12 made), and a competition-oriented fastback by Zagato (20 made). Total production between 1954 and 1956 amounted to 60 units. An A6G/54 Zagato chassis 2155 received a unique coupé bodystyle, after being crashed on a test drive by Gianni Zagato. Distinguished by non-fastback rear-end and ‘eyelids’ over the headlights. It is also one of only two with a ‘double bubble’ roof. The car is one of the Allemano bodied machines.
1957 250F: One of the best known Formula 1 cars of the mid 1950s is the Maserati 250F. 26 of these legends were made between January 1954 and November 1960. Twenty-six examples were made. The 250F principally used the 2.5-litre Maserati A6 straight-six engine which generated 220 bhp at 7400 rpm, ribbed 13.4″ drum brakes, wishbone independent front suspension and a De Dion tube axle. It was built by Gioacchino Colombo, Vittorio Bellentani and Alberto Massimino; the tubular work was by Valerio Colotti. The 250F first raced in the 1954 Argentine Grand Prix where Juan Manuel Fangio won the first of his two victories before he left for the new Mercedes-Benz team. Fangio won the 1954 Drivers’ World Championship, with points gained with both Maserati and Mercedes-Benz; Stirling Moss raced his own privately owned 250F for the full 1954 season. In 1955 a 5-speed gearbox; SU fuel injection (240 bhp) and Dunlop disc brakes were introduced. Jean Behra drove this in a five-member works team which included Luigi Musso. In 1956 Stirling Moss won the Monaco and Italian Grands Prix, both in a works car. In 1956 three 250F T2 cars first appeared for the works drivers. Developed by Giulio Alfieri using lighter steel tubes they sported a slimmer, stiffer body and sometimes the new 315 bhp V12 engine, although it offered little or no real advantage over the older straight 6. It was later developed into the 3 litre V12 that won two races powering the Cooper T81 and T86 from 1966 to 1969, the final “Tipo 10” variant of the engine having three valves and two spark plugs per cylinder. In 1957 Juan Manuel Fangio drove to four more championship victories, including his legendary final win at German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring (Aug. 4, 1957), where he overcame a 48 second deficit in 22 laps, passing the race leader, Mike Hawthorn, on the final lap to take the win. In doing so he broke the lap record at the Nürburgring, 10 times. By the 1958 season, the 250F was totally outclassed by the new rear engined F1 cars, however, the car remained a favourite with the privateers, including Maria Teresa de Filippis, and was used by back markers through the 1960 F1 season, the last for the 2.5 litre formula. In total, the 250F competed in 46 Formula One championship races with 277 entries, leading to eight wins. Success was not limited to World Championship events with 250F drivers winning many non-championship races around the world. Stirling Moss has repeatedly said that the 250F was the best front-engined F1 car he drove. Mark Hales shared his first-hand driving experience of the Maserati 250F owned by Sir Stirling Moss, in which Sir Stirling won the Monaco GP in 1956.
1958 3500GT: Maserati had made their first forays into the grand tourer market, with the 1947 A6 1500, seen above, but whilst these cars had proven that the expanding the business beyond race cars was feasible; the A6 road cars were still built at the rate of just a dozen examples a year, which hardly constituted series production. A different approach was going to be needed, with the objective of building fully accomplished grand tourers. An engine was not really a problem. The 2 litre twin cam unit that had enabled Maserati to achieve racing success and international visibility in the early 1950s, thanks to cars such as the A6GCM;, had already been enlarged to three litre capacity on the Maserati 300S. Chief engineer Giulio Alfieri felt the next step was to design an all-new 3.5-litre engine; the resulting long-stroke six, designed foremost for endurance racing on the Maserati 350S, was ready in 1955. The main development efforts that led to the 3500 GT were carried out in 1956–57, despite the frantic activity required by Maserati’s participation in the Formula 1 world championship. Alfieri modified the 350S’s engine to suit a touring car, such as switching to a wet sump oil system and changing the engine accessories. He also made several business trips to the United Kingdom in order to contact components suppliers. None were found in Italy, as Italian taxation system and the industry structure forced manufacturers to design every part in-house; a daunting task for small companies like Maserati. Thus the 3500 GT alongside Italian Weber carburettors and Marelli ignition, used many British-made components such as a Salisbury rear axle, Girling brakes and Alford & Alder suspension parts. Clearly the bodywork would have to be Italian. According to Carrozzeria Touring’s Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni it was Commendatore Franco Cornacchia, a prominent Ferrari dealer, that put in contact Maserati owner Omar Orsi with the Milanese Carrozzeria The first 3500 GT Touring prototype had a 2+2 body, with superleggera construction and was white in colour; it was nicknamed Dama Bianca (White Lady). Two 3500 GT prototypes were shown at the March 1957 Salon International de l’Auto in Geneva. Both had a 2,600 mm (102.4 in) wheelbase and aluminium bodywork; they were Touring’s Dama Bianca, and another one by Carrozzeria Allemano. Touring’s proposal was chosen for series production; few changes were made to it, chiefly a more imposing grille. Production of the 3500 GT started in late 1957; eighteen cars were built that year, the first handful leaving the factory before Christmas. All 3500 GTs had leather interior and Jaeger-LeCoultre instruments. A first Touring convertible prototype was shown at the 1958 Turin Motor Show, but it was a proposal by Carrozzeria Vignale (designed by Michelotti) shown at the 1959 Salon de l’Auto in Paris that went into production as 3500 GT Convertibile. The Convertibile did not feature Touring’s Superleggera construction, but rather a steel body with aluminium bonnet, boot lid and optional hard top; it was also built on an 10 cm (3.9 in) shorter wheelbase, and weighed 1,380 kg (3,042 lb). Front disc brakes and limited slip differential became optional in 1959, and were standardized in 1960; rear discs became standard in 1962. The 3500 GTi was introduced at the 1960 Salon International de l’Auto, and by the following year became the first fuel-injected Italian production car. It had a Lucas mechanical fuel injection, and developed 232 bhp. A 5-speed gearbox was now standard. The body had a lowered roofline and became somewhat longer; minor outward changes appeared as well (new grille, rear lights, vent windows). From 1961 convertible 3500s for export markets were named 3500 GT Spyder and GTi Spyder. In total, 2,226 3500 GT coupés and convertibles were built between 1957 and 1964. In the first year, 1958, just 119 cars were sold, while 1961 was the best-selling year, totalling 500. All together, 245 Vignale convertibles and nearly 2000 coupés were manufactured, of these, 1981 being Touring coupés, the rest were bodied by other coachbuilders: Carrozzeria Allemano (four coupés, including the 1957 prototype), Zagato (one coupe, 1957), Carrozzeria Boneschi (1962 Turin Motor Show and 1963 Geneva Motor Show ), Pietro Frua (two or three coupés, one spider) and Bertone (one coupé, 1959 Turin Motor Show) The last was a coupé by Moretti for the 1966 Geneva Motor Show. The car was replaced by the Sebring in 1964.
1958 420M Eldorado: this car became famous in 1958 as the first single-seater car in Europe to be sponsored by a brand not linked to the world of motorsport. The brand in question was Eldorado, an ice-cream manufacturer. This was the first example of modern sponsorship, where the car was painted in the colours of the partner company, abandoning the traditional colour assigned to each country by the International Federation. This was a real revolution for the day, of vital importance to the future of motorsport, which from that moment on opened its doors to new financial backers. Maserati was commissioned to build the car by Gino Zanetti, owner of the Eldorado ice-cream company. Determined to promote his brand on the international stage, Zanetti turned to the House of the Trident to create a single-seater car to compete in the “Trofeo dei due Mondi” (Race of Two Worlds) at Monza: the Automobile Club d’Italia had organised a 500 Mile race at the circuit based on the Indianapolis 500, with top American drivers lining up alongside Europe’s cream of the crop. The Maserati 420/M/58, chassis number 4203, was thus finished with a cream coloured livery, instead of Italian racing red. The name Eldorado was emblazoned in bold black lettering along the sides of the car, with two additional smaller logos on the nose and below the small deflector that acted as a windshield. The logo with the face of the smiling cowboy was positioned in the centre of the nose and on the sides of the rear fin. Below the two Eldorado brands on the sides, in bright racing red was “Italia”, denoting the nationality of the sponsor as well as that of the racing car manufacturer. The long silhouette of the “Eldorado” also bore the name of the driver chosen to race it in the “Monzanapolis”: Stirling Moss, one of the greatest drivers in the history of motor sports, and a former Maserati driver. The previous year, in 1957, the Modena-based manufacturer had won the Formula 1 World Championship with Juan Manuel Fangio, before deciding to withdraw from competitive racing and build racing cars on commission only for private customers, also providing them with assistance. This was precisely the ideal situation that Zanetti was seeking, and the reason why the Italian entrepreneur turned to Maserati. In the space of a few months, the engineer Giulio Alfieri created the “Eldorado”. The engine, derived from the V8 unit mounted in the 450S twin cam models, had its displacement reduced to 4,190 cc, generating 410 hp at 8,000 rpm; both the engine and transmission were offset to the left by nine centimetres. The aim of this decision was to ensure a more balanced weight distribution, taking into account the anti-clockwise direction of travel on the high banked corners at Monza. The gearbox had just two speeds while the De Dion rear axle had no differential. The tubular chassis was derived from that of the highly successful 250F, although it proved oversized compared to the latter, also as a result of numerous reinforcements introduced to enable the car to withstand the mechanical stress generated by the concrete track at Monza. To reduce the weight, Halibrand magnesium wheels were used along with Firestone 18-inch braided tread tyres inflated with helium. With these measures, the car weighed in at 758 kg. The aluminium bodywork, hand crafted by Fantuzzi, was characterised by an aerodynamic vertical fin behind the cockpit and a front carburettor scoop. On 29th June 1958, at the Monza track, the race was held in three heats to decide the final points table. This strategy was aimed at enticing European car manufacturers to enter their own cars, which had not originally been designed to compete in such a long race, and one that was so mechanically arduous. In the first heat Moss finished 4th. In the second he crossed the line 5th. In the final heat, however, his steering broke and the Maserati slammed into the guard-rail, dashing the English driver’s hopes of finishing the race in third place overall. Taking into account the three heats and the total number of laps completed, Moss nonetheless took seventh place in the end. He walked away unscathed from the crash and, all things considered, the “Eldorado” too suffered only limited damage, proving the value of its solid structure. Despite the success in terms of spectator numbers and entertainment value, the 500 Miles of Monza did not become a regular event on the racing calendar. Based on the findings from the race, the “Eldorado” was modified by the Gentilini bodywork shop, which removed the rear fin and reduced the hood scoop, after which the car was entered in the Indianapolis 500 in 1959. This time it was finished in red, the colour denoting Italy in competitions, but still emblazoned with the Eldorado sponsor’s name in white lettering on the sides, as well as the cowboy logo in a white circle on the nose and tail. The inexperience of the gentleman-driver, Ralph Liguori, meant that the car failed to qualify, as it set the 36th fastest time, with only the first 33 qualifying. With a professional driver behind the wheel, it would have been a very different result. But that is a whole other story. The Indy 500 race was dear to Maserati, which took victory in 1939 and 1940 with the driver Wilbur Shaw behind the wheel of an 8CTF. Shaw almost made it a hat-track in 1941, but was forced to withdraw during the penultimate lap while out in front, victory denied by a broken wheel. Maserati is the only Italian car manufacturer to have won on the Indiana race track and the only European brand to have triumphed on two consecutive occasions.
1961 Tipo 61 Drogo: The car was produced between 1959 and 1961 by Maserati for racing in sports car events including the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance classic. It used an intricate tubular space frame chassis, containing about 200 chro-moly steel tubes welded together, hence the nickname “Birdcage”. This method of construction provided a more rigid and, at the same time, lighter chassis than other sports cars of the time. By recessing the windscreen base into the bodywork, Maserati was able to reduce the effect of new Le Mans rules demanding a tall windscreen. The Camoradi team became famous racing the Tipo 61s but, despite being very competitive, the Birdcage was somewhat unreliable and occasionally retired from many races due to problems with the drivetrain. The Tipo 61 was unveiled in 1959 when Stirling Moss won its first race, attracting the attention of Lloyd “Lucky” Casner. Casner founded the Casner Motor Racing Division who raced three Tipo 61’s in the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Tipos never won Le Mans due to reliability issues, however in both 1960 and 1961 the Camoradi team won the 1000 km Nürburgring. The Tipo 61 was the most well known model but Giulio Alfieri designed 5 different models, all based on an intricate multi-tubular frame concept. This multi-tubular construction produced a light weight and rigid chassis that was a significant competitive advantage for a racing car. All models included independent front suspension, 4-wheel disc brakes and 5-speed transmission. A De Dion type rear axle was used on the Tipo 60 and 61. Tipo 60 featured a small 2-litre 4-cylinder engine of 200 hp, located in the front and tilted over at a 45° angle for a lower center of gravity. The weight was 570 kg (1,257 lb) and the car had at a maximum speed of 270 km/h (168 mph). Tipo 61 featured a 2.9-litre 4-cylinder engine of 250 hp, located in the front at a 45° angle for a weight of 600 kg (1,323 lb) pushing the car at a speed of 285 km/h (177 mph). The mid-engined Birdcage cars began with the Tipo 63. Maserati now changed to a mid-engine configuration using a similar multi-tubular chassis construction. The rear suspension was changed to an independent double wishbone configuration. The Tipo 63 through 65 cars have been described as a “historian’s nightmare”. Maserati was in difficult financial circumstances and Giulio Alfieri was trying to build a competitive car on a low budget. He would retrieve various engines from the Maserati parts bins. Then, he had them modified and installed in the ten various chassis that were constructed. The Tipo 63 was raced with four-cylinder and twelve-cylinder engines and the chassis was radically redesigned when the first version proved less competitive than the Tipo 61. Tipo 63 first used a 4-cylinder engine similar to the Tipo 61 and later a V12 engine from the Formula One 1957 Maserati 250F. Tipo 63 cars raced in 1961 with both engines, placing 4th at the 24 hours of Le Mans (12 cylinder version) with Briggs Cunningham’s team. And Count Volpi’s Scuderia Serenissima hired Medardo Fantuzzi to modify one of their Tipo 63 cars with a longer nose and a fin behind the driver. Tipo 64 featured the same 3-liter V12 as the Tipo 63 with an upgraded frame (many smaller light alloy tubes) – nicknamed “Supercage”. Tipo 65 featured a V8 engine of 5 litres delivering about 430 hp pushing the car at 350 km/h (217 mph). Only one car was built using a modified Tipo 63 chassis. This Tipo 61 Birdcage chassis number 2472 was first delivered on February 25th 1961 and was entered by the Camoradi Team for the 1961 1000kms at the Nürburgring and in appalling weather conditions, driven by Lloyd Casner and Masten Gregory, went on to win the race. In August of the same year the car was entered for the ‘Pescara Four Hours’ race and with Lucky Casner at the wheel crashed out while in the lead and was badly damaged. The damaged car was sent to Drogo who rebodied it with the bodystyle you see here. In 1963 it was returned to the factory where it remained until purchased by the Panini family.
1963 Tipo 63 V12 Serenissima: Part of the Birdcage family, the Tipo 63 received a 3.0-litre V12 engine borrowed from the 250F that Maserati designed for Formula One. The mid-mounted 12 gave it about 320 HP, 70 more than the better-known, four-cylinder-powered Tipo 61. Maserati made seven examples of the Tipo 63 in 1961.
Showing why the cars got the name “Birdcage” were examples of the supporting structure of both cars, with a construction of thin tubes which is both strong and light.
1964 5000GT: The first car in the Tipo 103 series, was the Shah of Persia, delivered to Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who had been impressed by the Maserati 3500. He commissioned Maserati’s chief engineer Giulio Alfieri to use a slightly modified 5-litre engine from the Maserati 450S on the 3500GT’s chassis. Carrozzeria Touring developed the superleggera tubing and aluminium body of the two-seater coupé. The second car, also a Shah of Persia by Touring, was displayed at Salone dell’automobile di Torino 1959. Specifications for the first 5000 GT were: Maserati 450S-derived four OHC 4,937 cc V8 generating 325 hp at 5500 rpm, with Lucas mechanical injection or four 45 DCOE Weber carburettor, a dual fuel pump, mechanical Magneti-Marelli ignition, dual spark plug, a 4-speed ZF gearbox (later 5-speed) and front discs with rear drums (later all discs). In 1960, the engine was modified: the displacement increased to 4,940 cc with a longer stroke and a smaller bore, with fuel injection added. The new engine developed 340 hp. The fuel injected 5000 GT was shown at the 1960 Salone di Torino. After the first body by Touring, the main body partner since 1960 became Carrozzeria Allemano which did 22 of the cars, designed by Giovanni Michelotti. Other builders were Pietro Frua (3), Carrozzeria Monterosa (2), Pininfarina (1), Ghia (Sergio Sartorelli) (1), Giovanni Michelotti (1), Bertone (Giorgetto Giugiaro) (1) and Carrozzeria Touring (2 more). In 1961, Bertone built a one-off 5000 GT that featured a body designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. The car had a Tipo 104 chassis and a different engine than the standard 5000 GT. The 5000 GT was sold at prices around US$17,000 (twice the cost of a Maserati 3500), and in many respects individualised to the desires of its celebrity buyers, including Karim Aga Khan, Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli, The car seen here has a Touring body.
1965 Mistral: Known internally as Tipo AM109, the Mistral was a 2-seat gran turismo produced between 1963 and 1970, as a successor to the 3500 GT. It was styled by Frua and bodied by Maggiora of Turin. Named after a cold northerly wind of southern France, it was the first in a series of classic Maseratis to be given the name of a wind. The Mistral was the last model from the Casa del Tridente (“House of the Trident”) to have the company’s renowned twin-spark, double overhead cam straight six engine. Fitted to the Maserati 250F Grand Prix cars, it won 8 Grand Prix between 1954 and 1960 and one F1 World Championship in 1957 driven by Juan Manuel Fangio. The engine featured hemispherical combustion chambers fed by a Lucas indirect fuel injection system, a new development for Italian car manufacturers. Maserati subsequently moved on to V8 engines for their later production cars to keep up with the demand for ever more powerful machines. Three engine were fitted to the Mistral, displacing 3500, 3700 and 4000 cc and developing 235 bhp at 5500 rpm, 245 bhp at 5500 rpm and 255 bhp at 5200 rpm, respectively. Only the earliest of the Mistrals were equipped with the 3500 cc, the most sought after derivative is the 4000 cc model. Unusually, the body was offered in both aluminium and, from 1967, in steel, but no one is quite sure how many of each were built. The car came as standard with a five speed ZF transmission and four wheel solid disc brakes. Per Maserati practice, the front suspension was independent and the rear solid axle. Acceleration 0-60 for both the 3.7 litre and 4.0 litre engines was around or just under 7 seconds, and top speed approximately 140 mph (225 km/h) to 145 mph (233 km/h). The body was designed by Pietro Frua and first shown in a preview at the Salone Internazionale dell’Automobile di Torino in November 1963. It is generally considered one of the most beautiful Maseratis of all time. It is also often confused with the very similar looking but larger and more powerful Frua designed AC 428. A total of 828 coupés and 125 Spyders were built. Only the Spyder received the 3500 engine; just 12 were made, along with 76 3.7 litre and 37 4.0 litre versions. Twenty Spyders were right hand drive. The Mistral was succeeded by the Ghibli, which overlapped production from 1967 on.
1968 Ghibli and 1970 Ghibli Spyder: First unveiled in prototype form on the Maserati stand at the November 1966 Turin Motor Show, this grand tourer with an all steel body, characterised by a low, shark-shaped nose, was designed by a young Giorgetto Giugiaro, then working at Carrozzeria Ghia. Deliveries started in March of the following year. While the 1966 Ghia prototype was a two-seater, on the production car two emergency rear seats were added—consisting of nothing more than a cushion without backrest—and the Ghibli was marketed as a 2+2, though everyone tends to think of this car as a 2 seater, and the later Indy as the real 2+2 from the range. The first Ghibli cars were powered by a front placed quad-cam 4.7 litre dry sump V8 engine that prodiuced 306 bhp, mated to a five-speed manual or, on request, to a three-speed automatic transmission. It had a 0-60 mph time of 6.8 seconds, a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). The car also featured pop-up headlamps, leather sport seats and alloy wheels. A convertible version, the Ghibli Spyder, went into production in 1969. Its convertible top folded away under a flush fitting body-colour tonneau cover behind the front seats; thus the Spyder eschewed any vestigial rear passenger accommodation, and was a strict two-seater. A removable hard top was available as an option. The 4.9-litre Ghibli SS was released later in 1969. Its V8 engine was stroked 4 mm to displace 4930 cc, and put out 330 bhp; its top speed of 280 km/h (174 mph) made it the fastest Maserati road car ever produced. In all, 1,170 coupés and 125 Spyders (including 25 Spyder SS) were produced.
1968 Simun Prototype: the Simun is a concept presented by Ghia at the Turin Motorshow in 1968. It used a 4.2-litre V8 from Maserati, had a wheelbase of 2600mm and front and rear tracks of 1480mm. It was commissioned by Maserati to study a high performance four seater car. It is a one-off
1971 Bora: Shortly after Citroën took a controlling interest in Maserati in 1968, the concept of a mid-engined two-seat sports car was proposed. Lamborghini and De Tomaso already had the Miura and Mangusta whilst Ferrari were known to be developing their own mid-engined contender. Initially known as Tipo 117 and later the Bora, the Maserati project got underway in October 1968 and a prototype was on the road by mid-1969. Shown in its final form at the Geneva Salon in March 1971, deliveries began before the end of the year. Maserati had developed a reputation for producing technologically out of date cars, but that changed with the Bora. A number of innovative features were introduced that distinguished the car from their previous offerings. Compared to other supercars it was civilised and practical, featuring a hydraulically powered pedal cluster that could be moved forward and backwards at the touch of a button and a steering wheel that could be tilted and telescoped, addressing the common problem of entering and exiting the vehicle common to all supercars. Most supercars offer little foot room and little to no provision for luggage, but the Bora has a full-size boot in the front of the vehicle, and was otherwise known as being much more civilised in comforts from its competitors, while still being rated at 171 mph by the Maserati factory. Unlike its competitors, the Bora used dual-pane glass separating its cabin from the engine compartment as well as a carpeted aluminium engine cap, greatly decreasing the engine noise in the cabin and increasing the comfort level for the driver. Two engines were offered initially, including a high-revving 4.7-litre V8 and a higher torque 4.9-litre V8; a US smog-qualified 4.9-litre engine was used (a stroked version of the 4.7), starting with 1973 deliveries. Eventually, production switched to using only a more powerful version of the 4.9-litre engine producing 320 hp at 6000 rpm. All these engines traced their lineage back to the famous 450S racecar, were aluminium alloy, had hemispheric combustion chambers with 16 valves total operated by four cams (chain-driven) and fed by eight throats of Weber carburettors, fired by electronic ignition. The extraordinarily competent and strong ZF-1 five-speed transaxle was used, as it was with the GT-40, Pantera, BMW M1, and other supercars of this era. Regardless of engine size or modification level, the Bora was considered an extraordinarily powerful car in its time. A combined steel monocoque chassis and body featured a tubular steel subframe at the back for the engine and transmission. Suspension was independent all round (a first for a Maserati road car) with coil springs, telescopic shocks and anti-roll bars. The development prototype and the broadly similar show car first seen at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show featured MacPherson strut based front suspension, but this was abandoned for production because, installed in combination with very wide front tires and rack-and-pinion steering, the strut-based solution produced severe kickback. For the production cars Maserati reverted to a more conservative wishbone front-suspension arrangement. Citroën’s advanced high-pressure LHM hydraulics were adopted to operate the ventilated disc brakes on the main circuit, and on an auxiliary circuit the pedal box [clutch, brake, foot-throttle], the driver’s seat [vertical adjustments], and the retractable headlights. Wheels were 7.5 x 15 inch Campagnolo light alloy rims with distinctive removable polished stainless steel hubcaps in the earlier automobiles, and tyres were Michelin XWX 205×70 front and rear, however these early cars exhibited problems with “tramlining” at speed. To solve this problem Maserati fitted later cars with 215×70 Michelins’. Maserati decided to install a subtly uprated version of their familiar DOHC 90° V8, displacement having been 4719 cc thanks to a bore and stroke of 93.9 x 85 mm. Mounted longitudinally, compression was set at 8.5:1 and with four Weber 42 DCNF downdraught carbs and electronic Bosch ignition, the Bora could boast 310 bhp at 6000 rpm. Great attention was paid to reducing noise and vibration, the engine and five-speed ZF transaxle being mounted on a subframe attached to the monocoque via four flexible mounts. The body was created by Giorgetto Giugiaro for Ital Design, fabrication of the all-steel panels being contracted to Officine Padane of Modena. Standing 1138 mm high, perhaps the most distinctive details were the brushed stainless steel roof and windscreen pillars. Inside, the bucket seats, dash, door trim, centre console and rear bulkhead were trimmed in leather, electric windows having been standard, most cars also getting air conditioners. The steering column was manually adjustable for rake and reach, whereas the LHM aux. circuit controls adjusted the driver’s seat vertically, the pedal box [consisting of the brake, clutch and throttle pedals] horizontally forwards and backwards by around three inches (76 mm)–a first such application in the world for a production car, and also to raise and lower the concealed headlights in the front fenders. The Bora was the basis for the Merak, which used the same bodyshell front clip but in a 2+2 configuration, made possible by using a smaller, lighter and less powerful Maserati V6 engine, also used in the Citroën SM. Maserati struggled after being bought by De Tomaso in 1975, and the Bora was discontinued after the 1978 model year.
1974 Tipo 124 Prototype: Conceived as a potential replacement for the Indy, this elegant one-off was designed by Italdesign, and made its debut at the 1974 Turin Motor Show. It is powred by a 320 bp V8 engine. Sadly, Maserati’s plight at the time meant that the car was not further developed but some of the design cues were used elsewhere.
1975 Khamsin: This car was conceived to take over from the Ghibli. First seen on the Bertone stand at the November 1972 Turin Auto Show, it was designed by Marcello Gandini, and was Bertone’s first work for Maserati. In March 1973 the production model was shown at the Paris Motor Show. Regular production of the vehicle finally started a year later, in 1974. The Khamsin was developed under the Citroën ownership for the clientele that demanded a front-engined grand tourer on the lines of the previous Ghibli, more conventional than the mid-engined Bora. In 1977 a mild facelift added three horizontal slots on the Khamsin’s nose to aid cooling. Inside it brought a restyled dashboard and a new padded steering wheel. One Khamsin was delivered to Luciano Benetton in 1981. Despite the many improvements over its predecessor, the Khamsin didn’t replicate its success; partly due to the concurrent fuel crisis that decreased demand for big V8 grand tourers. Production ended in 1982, with 435 vehicles made, a mere third of the Ghibli’s 1274 examples production run. 155 of which had been exported to the United States.
1980 Merak SS Turbo Prototype: The Merak was introduced at the 1972 Paris Auto Show, over a year after the Bora, a car whose front part of the bodyshell up to the doors, it shares. The front ends are differenced mainly by the use of dual chrome bumpers in place of twin trapezoidal grilles, but the similarities end at the B-pillar. Unlike its bigger sister the Merak doesn’t have a true, fully glassed fastback, but rather a cabin ending abruptly with a vertical rear window and a flat, horizontal engine bonnet pierced by four series of ventilation slats. Giugiaro completed the vehicle’s silhouette by adding open flying buttresses, visually extending the roofline to the tail. The main competitors of the Merak were the similarly Italian, mid-engined, 3-litre and 2+2 Dino 308 GT4 and Lamborghini Urraco P250. However unlike its transverse V8-engined rivals the Merak used a more compact V6, that could therefore be mounted longitudinally. Having been designed during the Citroën ownership of Maserati, certain Citroën hydropneumatic systems were used in the Merak, as for the Bora. These included the braking system and the clutch which were both hydraulically assisted and operated, and the pop-up headlights were hydraulically actuated. After 1976, when the French manufacturer gave up control of Maserati, the Citroën-derived parts were gradually replaced by more conventional systems. In 1977 Alejandro de Tomaso purchased Maserati and the Bora was discontinued after a production run of less than 600 cars, while the Merak remained on sale for six more years. The Merak’s V6 engine descended from the 2.7 litre Tipo C.114 originally designed by Giulio Alfieri in 1967 for use in the Citroën SM, that was bored out to 91.6 mm to displace 2,965 cc. It was a chain-driven double overhead camshaft, 12-valve unit featuring an unusual 90° angle between the cylinder banks. The lubrication system used a wet sump and an oil cooler. This V6 did not end its days on the Merak: it was later modified and made into the first ever production twin-turbocharged engine in the Biturbo, ending its career in the 1990s Ghibli after reaching the highest specific output of any production engine at the time. The powerplant was mounted longitudinally behind the passenger compartment, and joined through a single-plate dry clutch to a 5-speed, all syncromesh Citroën transaxle gearbox and a limited-slip differential. The original Merak’s three-litre engine produced 190 PS at 6000 rpm. Three twin-choke Weber carburettors (one 42 DCNF 31 and two 42 DCNF 32) fed the engine, and the compression ratio was 8.75:1. Maserati declared a top speed of over 240 km/h (149 mph). Early Meraks (1972 to 1975) were fitted with the Citroën SM’s dashboard, characterised by oval instrument gauges inset in a brushed metal fascia and a single-spoke steering wheel. 630 were made up to 1974. The lightened and more powerful Merak SS (Tipo AM122/A) was introduced at the 41st Geneva Motor Show in March 1975, although it did not enter production until the next year. It featured a 50 kg weight reduction and a 30 PS power increase to 220 PS (217 hp), thanks to the adoption of three larger 44 DCNF 44 carburettors and a higher 9:1 compression ratio. The SS was recognisable from a black grille between the pop-up headlights. A Maserati-designed upper fascia with round instruments and a four-spoke steering wheel replaced the previous SM-derived interior furniture. Later cars were bestowed with the full driver-oriented dashboard and three-spoke padded steering wheel of the Maserati Bora. The US-spec version of the Merak SS also saw a return to traditional hydraulics, eliminating the last of the Citroen high pressure system. 1000 units of the SS had been made by 1983, when all Merak production ceased. A third version of the Merak was made, In November 1977 at the Turin Auto Show, De Tomaso launched the Merak 2000 GT (Tipo AM122/D), which was basically a Merak with a smaller two-litre powerplant. It was built almost exclusively for the Italian market, where a newly introduced law strongly penalised cars with engine capacity over 2000 cc by subjecting them to a 38% Value Added Tax against the usual 19% VAT. The Merak’s competitors already offered similar two-litre models, specifically the Urraco P200 and Dino 208 GT4. The Merak 2000 GT featured a 1,999 cc engine generating 170 PS (168 hp) at 7000 rpm. Colour choice was limited to two shades: metallic light blue or gold. The two-litre cars were also distinguished by a black tape stripe running just below the mid-body character line, matte black bumpers in place of the usual chrome and the absence of the front spoiler, available as an optional. The SS’s front bonnet with the grille between the headlights was used on 2000 GTs. When production ended in 1983 just 200 Meraks 2000 GT had been made. Although a total of 1830 Merak models were made, they are rare cars now. Their low values meant that when they went wrong, which they inevitably did, it was not economic to repair or restore them, and a large number have been scrapped, which is a pity, as this is a great looking car. While this looks like a regular Merak SS at first glance, it’s actually a one-of-a-kind prototype built to test how Maserati’s V6 engine coped with being turbocharged. Maserati never offered a turbocharger as an option on the Merak but the lessons it learned from the project helped it develop the engine that went into the later Biturbo. Strangely, but perhaps unsurprisingly as this seems to be a trend, historians disagree on when this car was built; 1975, 1978 and 1980 have all been listed as correct.
1989 Quattroporte Royale: The Tipo AM 330 was developed under the Alejandro de Tomaso-GEPI ownership. After the brief parenthesis of the Citroen-era front-wheel drive Quattroporte II, the third generation went back to the classic formula of rear-wheel drive and large Maserati V8 engine. It was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. A pre-production Quattroporte was introduced to the press by Maserati president Alejandro de Tomaso on 1 November 1976, in advance of its début at the Turin Motor Show later that month. It was only three years later though, in 1979, that the production version of the car went on sale. Initially “4porte” badging was used, changed in 1981 to Quattroporte. Two versions of the V8 engine were available: a 4,930 cc one producing 280 PS and a smaller 4,136 cc engine producing 255 PS which was phased out in 1981. The interior was upholstered in leather and trimmed in briar wood. The Quattroporte III marked the last of the hand-built Italian cars; all exterior joints and seams were filled to give a seamless appearance. From 1987 the Royale superseded the Quattroporte, as a built-to-order ultra-luxury version of the Quattroporte. It adopted a higher compression 4.9-litre engine, putting out 300 PS. Besides the usual leather upholstery and veneer trim, the passenger compartment featured a revised dashboard with analogue clock, four electrically adjustable seats, retractable veneered tables in the rear doors and a mini-bar. Visually the Royale was distinguished by new disc-shaped alloy wheels and silver-coloured side sills. De Tomaso announced a limited run of 120 Royales, but when production ceased in 1990 only 53 of them had been made. In all, including the Royale, 2,155 Quattroporte IIIs were produced.
1996 Ghibli Cup: The Ghibli name was resurrected with the unveiling at the 62nd Turin Motor Show in April 1992. of the 1992 Ghibli (Tipo AM336). Like the V8 Maserati Shamal, it was an evolution of the previous Biturbo coupés; the doors, interior, and basic bodyshell were carried over from the Biturbo. It was powered by updated 24-valve Biturbo engines: a 2.0-litre V6 coupled to a six-speed manual transmission for the Italian market, and a 2.8-litre V6 for export, at first with a 5-speed manual, then from 1995 with the 6-speed. A 4-speed automatic was optional. The coupé was built for luxury as well as performance, and its interior featured Connolly leather upholstery and burl elm trim. At the 1994 Geneva Motor Show, Maserati launched an updated Ghibli. A refreshed interior, new wing mirrors, wider and larger 17″ alloy wheels of a new design, fully adjustable electronic suspension and ABS brakes were added. The Ghibli Open Cup single-make racing car was announced in late 1994. Two sport versions were introduced in 1995. The first was the Ghibli Kit Sportivo, whose namesake handling kit included wider tyres on OZ “Futura III” split-rim wheels, specific springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. The second was the limited edition Ghibli Cup, which brought some features of the Open Cup racer into a road-going model; it debuted at the December 1995 Bologna Motor Show. it mounted a 2-litre engine upgraded to 330 PS. At the time the Ghibli Cup had the highest ever per litre power output of any street legal car, surpassing the Bugatti EB110 and Jaguar XJ220. Chassis upgrades included tweaked suspension and Brembo brakes. Visually the Cup was recognizable from its 5-spoke split-rim Speedline wheels and badges on the doors. Only four paint colours were available: red, white, yellow and French blue. The sporty theme continued in the Cup’s cabin with black leather, carbon fibre trim, aluminium pedals and a MOMO steering wheel. A second round of improvements resulted in the Ghibli GT in 1996. It was fitted with 7-spoked 17″ alloy wheels, black headlight housings, and had suspension and transmission modifications. On 4 November 1996 on the Lake Lugano, Guido Cappellini broke the flying kilometre’s World Speed Record on water in the 5-litre class piloting a composite-hulled speedboat powered by the biturbo V6 from the Ghibli Cup and run by Bruno Abbate’s Primatist/Special Team, at an average speed of 216,703 km/h. To celebrate the world record Maserati made 60 special edition Ghiblis called the Ghibli Primatist. The cars featured special Ultramarine blue paintwork and two-tone blue/turquoise leather interior trimmed in polished burr walnut. Production of the second generation Ghibli ended in summer 1998. A single-make racing series for the Ghibli, the Open Cup, was run two seasons—1995 and 1996. Twenty-five Ghibli Open Cup racing cars were prepared. They were based on the two-litre model, with their engines tuned to 320 PS by using roller-bearing turbochargers, a freer-flowing exhaust, and remapped fuel computers; a roll cage, Sparco racing seats, a Momo racing steering wheel, aluminium shifter knob and pedals, 5-point belts, automatic fire extinguishing system, an aluminium sump guard, carbon fibre air-intakes, a modified fuel system and 17-inch 5-spoke Speedline wheels completed the outfitting. In 1995 eight races were held, two in Italy and six across Europe. In 1996, the car received a modification upgrade, resulting in similar track times to those of the Ferrari 355 Challenge. After the end of the 1995 racing season, several of the original 23 cars were used in national GT events.
2002 4200 GT Trofeo: The Trofeo Maserati is a single-marque motorsport championship that was started by Maserati Corse in 2003, with the introduction of the Maserati Coupé. Its title is commonly confused as Maserati Trofeo, which in fact refers to the name devised for the 4200 Coupé built for the series. However, in recent years Maserati themselves have been very inconsistent regarding the name of the championship, making it hard to define what is officially correct. In this article, the series will be referred to as Trofeo Maserati. It is very similar to the Ferrari Challenge, although not on such a large scale. The concept is simple: customers purchase or rent a Trofeo car which is for track use only, register themselves and their team for a season or race and compete. Teams are not allowed to tune their engines, but can adjust suspension, brakes etc. Entrants can also use Maserati in-house teams at an additional cost. The Trofeo is and has always been single model championship, older models are not eligible for entry. The only model eligible is the one that Maserati is currently manufacturing and racing. This means that the Coupé-based Trofeo became ineligible to race at the arrival of the MC. Some of these were known as “Trofeo Lights” and primarily raced in FIA GT3. Maserati did for a short time produce Maserati 3200 GT Trofeo’s, and were used for cup-style racing. For each event Maserati supplies two spare cars. These may only be used by the drivers if there is a major technical failure or irreparable damage due to an accident.
2010 GranTurismo MC: First released in 2010, all new MC’s are delivered race prepared by Maserati technicians. Entrants who use private teams must have their cars homologated to meet the equal settings of the in-house raced MC’s. It features aerodynamic enhancements and weight reduction over the GranTurismo S which it was originally based upon. It has a base price of €155-158.000 excl. VAT, but includes technical support throughout the initial season. The MC can also be run in all GT4 class racing series. It has around 488 bhp and gearchanges are dealt with in 60 ms. For 2012 the MC has a revised aero package encompassing amongst other minor changes a large rear wing.
2008 GranCabrio: The GranCabrio is a convertible version of the GranTurismo S Automatic, equipped with a canvas folding roof. The GranCabrio retains the four seat configuration of the GranTurismo coupé, and is thus Maserati’s first ever four-seater convertible. The GranCabrio was unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, with production beginning in 2010. It is built in the Viale Ciro Menotti Maserati factory. European sales were to begin in February 2010, with the United States receiving its first cars a month later. Planned sales for 2010 were 2,100 units, of which two-thirds were intended to go stateside. The GranCabrio is powered by the same 4.7-litre V8 engine (rated at 440 PS at 7,000 rpm and 490 Nm (361 lb/ft) at 4,750 rpm) that is fitted to the GranTurismo S Automatic. At the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, Maserati unveiled a new version of the GranCabrio, with an enhanced level of performance and handling. This version also has the 4.7-litre V8, coupled with the ZF six-speed automatic transmission and fitted with the slightly uprated 450 PS version of the V8 engine, with 510 Nm (380 lb/ft) torque. To hint at the car’s more sporting nature, the headlights have black surrounds and other details such as the bars in the grille are also finished in black. There are also larger side skirts as well as tiny winglets on the lower front corners. New front bumper and air splitter substantially lower drag coefficient from original Cd=0.35 to 0.33. Production of the GranCabrio and GranTursimo ceased at the end of 2019.
1990 Chubasco: On the 14th – 16th December 1990, at the customary annual anniversary of the ‘Casa’, Maserati presented three new models. The world’s journalists, members of the Club Maserati and concessionaires present during the ‘Festa’ were able to test-drive two of these new models, the Shamal in its definitive form, now ready for production and the Racing, the new 285 bhp 2-litre coupé. But the star of that event was a completely new car that was both formally and mechanically detached from Maserati’s current range. A car that would stir the memories – and what memories! – of the the powerful two-seater sports cars of the past. Under wraps in a purpose built structure in the centre of the large square in front of the factory, was the Chubasco. Displayed in its still static (mock-up) form – the finished article was supposed to see the light at the beginning of 1992 – it completely seduced the admiring guests ‘bowled over’ by its fluid yet strongly aggressive shape. From the first discussions Marcello Gandini had with the Maserati design office, it was clear that the car to be created would be new and revolutionary in every respect. The primary constraint on body configuration was the requirement for good air circulation in those points of the car in need of cooling: radiators, air-conditioning condenser, heat-exchangers, turbo-chargers, electronic control units, catalytic converters, engine compartment in general, mufflers and brakes. To achieve the desired end result in terms of performance, the best available frame proved to be the central-beam type, which provides good rigidity in combination with a supporting engine-transmission group mounted in a centre-rear position. This concept originated with De Tomaso’s positive experience with the Vallelunga. The chassis was to be a central beam in combination with a supporting engine-transmission group. The chassis would provide anchor points for the front push-rod and rear pull-rod suspensions, with a hydraulic lifting and progressive rigidity system and rockers with inboard springs, a solution typical of F1, which leaves room for two large lateral ducts for air passage and distribution. In plan view, these ducts are shaped so that the airflow taken in by three large frontal airscoops is accelerated and exhausted laterally under the doors, providing a pressure drop beneath the side panels, thus enhancing the strong ground-effect produced by the rear ramp and flat under-tray. The air flow taken in by the three frontal air scoops is accelerated and exhausted laterally under the doors. Cooling air for the engine is taken by two other air scoops in front of the rear wheels and is exhausted at the rear. The monocoque or carbody is ideally conceived as a floating cell connected to the frame by means of damping supports that absorb vibrations from the engine, transmission, suspensions and wheels, insulating the cockpit from whole frequency range of noise and vibrations and from torsion. The car body is conceived as a floating cell all connected to the chassis by means of dampening supports. The doors are single-hinged in front and open upward and forward. The electrically-controlled roof section could be shifted rearwards above the engine compartment, thus allowing oper-air motoring.The carefully-designed side and rear window surfaces and the driver’s seat offer better visibility than in most mid-engine sports cars. The “mandatory” two-seat cockpit is unexpectedly roomy, both lengthwise and laterally. The anatomical seats are separated by a centre-beam tunnel, which acts as a practical element of support and aesthetic balance. A large spoiler, aerodynamically tuned in the wind tunnel, characterizes the car’s appearance from all angles of observation. Once the technical and aerodynamic foundations were laid, it was easy for Marcello Gandini to give shape to this design, which can be described as the ideal objective, or better the dream, of every style designer: to design the automobile that every car-lover would design for himself once in his life. So ‘fierce-looking” it speeds up onlooker’s heartbeats, so out of the ordinary it stops traffic, so handsome it creates an irrepressible desire to possess it, so strong and muscular it transmits a flattering message about its owner’s character, with that touch of glamour that causes double-takes, a beautifully smooth, refined sculpture that could graciously adorn a living-room. The car that resulted from these ideal concepts is as difficult to describe in normal terms as the dreams of sports-car lovers. Precisely for this reason Maserati, for the first time in its history, presented a static model rather than a prototype. A model, not a useless knick-knack but a working instrument indispensable to the birth of an automobile. With this objective, Maserati wished to involve everyone in this project, perhaps because an extraordinary automobile should in reality be designed by its potential owners. Sadly this was not to be the case as it proved to be too expensive to build and the Chubascu remains in its mock-up form to this day and is now housed here. The good news is that Maserati used this technology to build the Barchetta.
As well as complete cars, there are plenty of engines contained in the display as well.
Maserati cars are not the only ones featured in the museum, as down one side of the building there is a line of other cars. Quite a mix of marques and even genres of car feature here, ranging from the familiar to the very rare and obscure. Among them are a few cars which are used for classic racing by Matteo Panini.
de Dion Bouton
Fiat 508 Ballila: The 508 Balilla was a compact car launched in 1932. It was effectively the replacement of the Fiat 509, although production of the earlier model had ceased back in 1929. It had a three-speed transmission (increased to four in 1934), seated four, and had a top speed of about 50 mph (80 km/h). It sold for 10,800 lire (or 8,300 2005 euro). About 113,000 were produced. It was offered with a number of different body styles. The first 508 came with a front-mounted four cylinder petrol/gasline side-valve engine of 995cc. Maximum power was listed as 20 hp at 3500 rpm, providing for a top speed of approximately 80 km/h (50 mph). Power passed to the rear wheels through a 3-speed manual gear box without the assistance of synchromesh on any of the ratios. Stopping power was provided by drum brakes on all four wheels. At the end of 1933 power was increased to 24 hp at 3500 rpm, and the maximum speed went up to 85 km/h (53 mph). Transmission was upgraded to a four speed gear box. For 1934 the car now came with a slightly more aerodynamic looking “berlina” (saloon/sedan) body, available with either two or four doors. This version was identified as the Fiat 508B, and the original 1932 model was now, retrospectively, became the Fiat 508A. The first 508A, introduced in 1932, was a 2-door “Berlina” (saloon/sedan) with four seats and a three speed “crash” gearbox. The front seats could be slid forwards and the backrests tilted in order to facilitate access to the back seat in what was a relatively small car. Unusually, the windows in the doors could be wound down by turning a crank handle fitted to the door, while the windscreen was hinged at the top and could be opened, while two windscreen wipers were powered by their own electric motor, positioned inside just above the windscreen. The interior used rubber mats while the seats were cloth covered. Accessories offered included a dash-mounted rear-view mirror, an interior light mounted on the centre of the roof and an externally mounted luggage platform at the back which, when specified, came with the spare wheel repositioned to a mounting point on the side of the car between the left-side door and the front wing. A “Lusso” (“de Luxe”) version also featured a better type of cloth covering for the seats as well as extra bright work around the lights, front grille, wheels and door handles. With the 508B, introduced early in 1934, the body was described as “more aerodynamic” although from the perspective of later developments in car styling, the 508B still followed the rather boxy lines associated with cheap cars from the early 1930s. The gear box was upgraded, now offering four forward speeds, and while the a 2-door “Berlina” remained on offer for a few more months, a 4-door “Berlina” was now added. In June of the same year the 2-door “Berlina” was delisted for Italy and there was a further face-lift for the 4-door bodied car, which now received a modified front grille and a windscreen, previously vertical, that was slightly raked, hinting at the more wholesale styling changes that would accompany the appearance in 1937 of the 508C version of the car. Standard and “Lusso” versions of the 4-door “Berlina” were both offered. A “Torpedo” bodied 508 was added to the range in 1933, with four seats and four doors, and in 1933 still with the 3-speed “crash” gear-box. It was offered only with the “Lusso” (“de Luxe”) trimmings. As on the “Spider”, seat covers and interior trimmings used coloured leather. The windscreen pillars and door hinges were chrome plated, and the removable fabric hood could be stored in a suitably shaped storage bag provided for the purpose. The upgrade to a four speed transmission in 1934 was not accompanied by any aesthetic changes to the “Torpedo” bodywork. The Italian military was active in Tripolitania (now known as Libya) during this period, and a special “Torpedo Coloniale” was produced, sharing the features of the regular 508 Torpedo, but this car came with wider tyres and was painted the colour of sand. A commercial version of the Balilla was offered, both as a panel van or as a small flat-bed truck, with a 350 kg load capacity, based initially on the 3-speed 508A and later on the 4-speed 508B. Around 113,000 were produced.
1931 Cadillac 355 Limousine: The Cadillac Series 355 was manufactured by Cadillac from 1931 to 1935. They were V8-cylinder cars, sold in several models: a 2-door club coupe, a 2-door convertible, 4-door convertible, a 4-door sedan a 4-door town car and a 4-door limousine. It continued the popular name Cadillac V8 while being joined with the larger Cadillac V12 and Cadillac V16. The 1931 Series 355A was very similar to the Series 353 except it was longer and lower, had a longer hood with five hood ports, with matching doors in the cowl. There was a modified coach sill with no compartments in the splash pan. The battery and tool compartment were now under the front seat. Floor boards were made of metal for the first time. The instrument panel was oval with the same gauge groupings as in the Series 353. The Series 355 featured a radiator screen, a single bar bumper and dual horns. The headlight diameter was reduced by one inch. There was a new frame with divergent side rails. The suspension springs now had metal covers. The radiator was mounted lower in the frame and there was now a condenser tank for cooling operation. The engine was the same 353 cu in (5.8 L) L-Head V8 as on the Series 353, thus the series designation no longer matched the displacement and was the basis for the “series” naming convention. Engine horsepower was 95. A five point engine suspension, similar to the V-16 was used. An intake muffler was added and the distributor was mounted 1.5 in (38 mm) higher. The fan was mounted lower to match the lower radiator. Model year sales totalled 10,717. A revised version, the 355B debuted for 1932.
1930 La Salle 340 Series 2 passenger Roadster: General Motors chairman Alfred P. Sloan had been considering a new vehicle range to fill the ever-growing gap between Buick and Cadillac since about 1920, but it wasn’t until 1924 when Cadillac’s president Lawrence Fisher finally put that plan into motion. A key move from Fisher was to hire a talented young designer named Harley Earl to style this new car, called LaSalle. The son of a California coachbuilder, Earl was assigned the task of designing a stylish new motorcar that would convey the elegance and status of Cadillac, but with a more sporting, agile appeal, and at a more affordable price point. Earl would later reveal his original design for LaSalle was influenced by Hispano Suiza, particularly in the graceful fenders and distinct, high peaked radiator grille. LaSalle’s bold two-tone colour schemes however, were all Harley Earl. Mechanically, LaSalle utilised its own V8 engine that was similar to Cadillac’s unit albeit smaller and with a few fundamental differences. By 1930, however, LaSalle’s V8 was in essence the same size and output as the Cadillac’s, imparting the lighter LaSalle with a sporty, agile feel. It seemed that GM came along with the idea for a junior Cadillac brand at just the right time. Given the economic crash of the late 1920s, the more affordable car sold exceptionally well in its first three years, often outselling its senior sibling handily. By the end of the 1930s, LaSalle had become a serious threat to Cadillac and was stealing sales from the flagship marque, and so it was given the axe in 1940, with the Cadillac Series 60 taking over the helm as the value leader. Perhaps more importantly, it was the first major success for Harley Earl; a man who would go on to become a legend within GM and earn his place as one of the most influential automobile designers in history.
Stanguellini Junior: Stanguellini single-seaters, “scaled-down lookalikes of the famous Maserati 250F” powered by Fiat 1100 engines, were competitive in Formula Junior, a category under Formula One that existed between 1958 and 1963. Stanguellini won the first season of the Italian Formula Junior championship, and “famous drivers like Bandini and von Trips won their first races in Stanguellinis.” Walt Hansgen won the FJ race at the inaugural United States Grand Prix meeting at Sebring, Florida, on December 12, 1959, driving a Stanguellini. More than 100 Formula Juniors were built by Stanguellini, and they were very successful until 1960 and the arrival of British mid-engined racers like the Cooper and Lotus. As the days of the Fiat 1100-based, front-engined racers were over, Stanguellini did develop a mid-engined car called the Delfino for the 1962 season. The Fiat 1100 engine, although now tuned to 95 CV at 7500 rpm, was considered the car’s weakest link. The Delfino debuted at Daytona 1962 in the hands of the Cunningham team’s Walt Hansgen and started on pole. It retired with technical problems and the design was never fully competitive again. After 1966, the Stanguellini family concentrated their efforts on tuning equipment and subcontract design, while also running their Modena Fiat dealership
1948 Stanguellini 1100 Sport Barchetta: this was based on the Fiat 508C chassis and featured a tuned 1089cc engine which initially generated 45 bhp at 6000 rpm, but from 1948 this was increased to 60 bhp. The car competed in the legendary Mille Miglia endurance race
Mercedes 300SL: Known under development as the W198, the first iteration of the SL-Class grand tourer was the fastest production car of its day. Introduced in 1954 as a two-seat coupé with distinctive gull-wing doors, it was later offered as an open roadster. Built by Daimler-Benz AG, the direct fuel injected production model was based on the company’s highly successful yet somewhat less powerful carburettor overhead cam straight 6 1952 racer, the W194. The idea of a toned-down Grand Prix car tailored to affluent performance enthusiasts in the booming post-war American market was suggested by Max Hoffman. Mercedes accepted the gamble and the new 300 SL – 300 for its 3.0 litre engine displacement and SL for Sport Leicht (Sport Light) – was introduced at the 1954 New York Auto Show rather than the Frankfurt or Geneva gatherings company models made their usual debuts. Immediately successful and today iconic, the 300 SL stood alone with its distinctive doors, first-ever production fuel injection, and world’s fastest top speed. Even with the upward opening doors, the 300 SL had an unusually high sill, making entry and exit from the car’s cockpit problematic. A steering wheel with a tilt-away column was added to improve driver access. The 300 SL’s main body was steel, with aluminium bonnet, doors and boot lid. It could also be ordered with an 80 kg (180 lb) saving all-aluminium outer skin at tremendous added cost; just 29 were made. Like the W194, the 300 SL borrowed its 3.0 litre overhead cam straight-6 from the regular four-door 300 (W186 “Adenauer”) luxury tourer introduced in 1951. Featuring an innovative diagonal aluminium head that allowed for larger intake and exhaust valves, it was canted to the right at forty-five-degrees to fit under the SL’s considerably lower bonnet line. In place of the W194’s triple two-barrel Solex carburettors, a groundbreaking Bosch mechanical direct fuel injection was installed, boosting power almost 25% over the Grand Prix car’s. Derived from the DB 601 V12 used on the Messerschmitt Bf 109E fighter of World War II, it raised output from 175 hp to 215 hp, almost double that of the original Type 300 sedan’s 115 hp. An optional, even more powerful version, with radical camshaft developed 240 hp @ 6100 rpm and a maximum torque of 217 lb⋅ft @ 4800 rpm, but was rough for city use. The result was a top speed of up to 260 km/h (160 mph) depending on gear ratio and drag, making the 300 SL the fastest production car of its time. However, unlike today’s electrically powered fuel injection systems, the 300 SL’s mechanical fuel pump would continue to inject gasoline into the engine during the interval between shutting off the ignition and the engine’s coming to a stop; this unburned gasoline washed lubricating oil from the cylinder walls, which not only left them unprotected in affected areas during start-up but would dilute the engine’s entire oil supply if the car was not driven hard or long enough to reach a sufficient temperature to evaporate the fuel out of the oil. Exacerbating the problem was the engine’s large racing-oriented oil cooler and enormous 10 litre oil capacity, which virtually guaranteed the oil would not get hot enough. In practice, many owners would block off airflow through the oil cooler and stick rigidly to the appropriately low 1,000 mile recommended oil change interval. An auxiliary fuel pump provided additional fuel for extended high speed operation or cold starts; overuse would also lead to dilution of the oil., Clutch operation was initially very heavy, remedied by an improved clutch arm helper spring which reduced pedal force. From March 1963 to the end of production later that year, a light alloy crankcase was used on a total of 209 vehicles. Aerodynamics played an important role in the car’s speed, with Mercedes-Benz engineers placing horizontal “eyebrows” over the wheel openings to reduce drag. Unlike many cars of the 1950s, steering was relatively precise and the four-wheel independent suspension allowed for a reasonably comfortable ride and markedly better overall handling. However, the rear swing axle, jointed only at the differential, not at the wheels themselves, could be treacherous at high speeds or on imperfect roads due to extreme changes in camber. The enormous fuel tank capacity also caused a considerable difference in handling depending on the quantity of fuel on board. More than 80% of the vehicle’s total production of approximately 1400 units were sold in the US, making the Gullwing the first Mercedes-Benz widely successful outside its home market and thoroughly validating Hoffman’s prediction. The 300 SL is credited with changing the company’s image in America from a manufacturer of solid but staid luxury automobiles to one capable of rendering high-performance sports cars. It should be noted initial sales were sluggish due to many things, of which the price was one. Initial prices were about $6,400, a new Chevrolet Bel-Air could be purchased for $1,700 in the same year. Then there were few mechanics, even at the dealers, who understood the fuel injection system enough to do repairs. Nonetheless, 1400 were built by 1957, at which point Mercedes introduced a roadster version which was broadly similar, but with conventional doors. It was produced until 1963, and achieved sales of 1858 units.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint and Spider: Following the 1900 family, Alfa’s next new model range would be cheaper and aimed at capturing some of the market from middle class buyers. Known as Giulietta, the 750 and later 101 Series were a series of family-sized cars made from 1954 to 1965, and Alfa Romeo’s first, successful, foray into the 1.3-litre class. The first to be introduced was the Giulietta Sprint 2+2 coupé which was premiered at the 1954 Turin Motor Show. Designed by Franco Scaglione at Bertone, it was produced at the coachbuilder’s Grugliasco plant, near Turin. A year later, at the Turin Motor Show in April 1955, the Sprint was joined by the 4-door saloon Berlina. In mid 1955, the open two-seat Giulietta Spider, featuring convertible bodywork by Pininfarina arrived. The Giulietta used unibody construction and a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. Front suspension was by control arms, with coaxial coil springs and hydraulic dampers. At the rear there was a solid axle on coil springs and hydraulic dampers. The axle was located by a longitudinal link on each side, and by a wishbone-shaped arm linking the top of the aluminium differential housing to the chassis. All Giuliettas (save for the last SZ examples) had hydraulic drum brakes on all four corners. The Giulietta used an Alfa Romeo Twin Cam straight-four of 1290 cc, with an aluminium alloy engine block and cast iron inserted sleeves. Bore and stroke measured 74.0 mm and 75.0 mm. The aluminium alloy cylinder head was of a crossflow design and featured hemispherical combustion chambers. The double overhead camshafts were driven by two timing chains, and acted on two valves per cylinder, angled 80°. In 1957 a more powerful Berlina version, called Giulietta T.I. (Turismo Internazionale) was presented with minor cosmetic changes to the bonnet, the dial lights and rear lamps. Carrozzeria Colli also made the Giulietta station wagon variant called Giulietta Promiscua. Ninety-one examples of this version were built. Carrozzeria Boneschi also made a few station wagon examples called Weekendina. A new version of the Giulietta Berlina debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1959. Mechanical changes were limited to shifting the fuel pump from the cylinder head to a lower position below the distributor, and moving the previously exposed fuel filler cap from the tail to the right rear wing, under a flap. The bodywork showed a revised front end, with more rounded wings, recessed head lights, and new grilles with chrome frames and two horizontal bars. The rear also showed changes, with new larger tail lights on vestigial fins, which replaced the earlier rounded rear wings. The interior was much more organised and upholstered in new cloth material; the redesigned dashboard included a strip speedometer flanked by two round bezels, that on the T.I. housed a tachometer and oil and water temperature gauges. The T.I. also received a front side repeater mounted in a small spear, unlike the Normale which kept the earlier small round lamp with no decorations. During 1959 the type designation for all models was changed from 750 and 753 to 101. In February 1961 the 100,001st Giulietta rolled out of the Portello factory, with a celebration sponsored by Italian actress Giulietta Masina. In Autumn 1961 the Giulietta was updated a second time. Both Normale and T.I. had revised engines and new exhaust systems; output rose to 61 bhp and 73 bhp. With this new engine the car could reach a speed of almost 100mph. At the front of the car square mesh side grilles were now pieced together with the centre shield, and at the rear there were larger tail lights. Inside the T.I. had individual instead of bench seats, with storage nets on the seatbacks. June 1962 saw the introduction of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, which would eventually replace the Giulietta. As until 1964 the Giulia only had a larger 1.6-litre engine, production of the standard Berlina ended with 1963, whilst the T.I. continued for a full year more. A last T.I. was completed in 1965. The Giulietta sport models had a different fate: Sprint, Sprint Speciale and Spider were fitted with the new 1.6-litre engine, received some updates and continued to be sold under the Giulia name until they were replaced by all-new Giulia-based models during 1965. These days., the Berlina is the model you see the least often. A few of the model are used in historic racing where the car takes on the might of those with far larger engines. A total of 177,690 Giuliettas were made, the great majority in Berlina saloon, Sprint coupé or Spider roadster body styles.
Marcos: The Marcos Xylon GT G128 was ordered from Marcos by Barry Filer and driven for him by Jackie Stewart in club races in the North in 1961. The chassis was constructed of special laminated plywood on the monocoque principle and joined using the synthetic Aerolite 300 adhesive. Small sections are assembled into a whole by gluing and stapling. Localized stress areas were reinforced. The car used a 997cc Ford engine from the Anglia, with twin carburettors. Jim Diggory continued racing the car in the early sixties. Jem Marsh found the car in a London Mews next to Chris Lawrence place in the early seventies. Jem restored the car in the late seventies and continued racing it to great success in HSCC races. After a number of years being unused, it was transferred to Marcos shareholder Herman Buurman in Holland when the company went into receivership in the late nineties. After being hidden from public viewing, Buurman decided to sell it at auction in 2014.
Ginetta G4: The original G4 used the new Ford 105E engine and had a glass fibre GT-style body along with the suspension updated to coil springing at the front with a Ford live axle at the rear. Whereas the G2 and G3 had been designed for racing, the G4 was usable as an everyday car but still was very competitive in motor sport with numerous successes. In 1963, a coupé variant was introduced alongside the open top variant and a BMC axle replaced the Ford unit at the rear. In road tests, the car attains a top speed of 190 km/h (120 mph) with a 1,500 cc engine. The series III version of 1966 added pop-up headlights. Production stopped in 1968 but was revived in 1981 with the Series IV which was two inches wider and three inches (76 mm) longer than the III. Over 500 units were made up to 1969 with a variety of Ford engines. The G4 was re-introduced in 1981 as the G4 Series IV, with a new chassis. It was produced through to 1984 with approximately 35 examples built. The Series IV was powered by a 1,599 cc Ford four-cylinder engine
There were some more cars upstairs, including some more race cars.
Lotus Type 18: This was the first mid-engined car built by Lotus and was a marked improvement over Chapman’s early and only moderately successful front-engined formula cars, the 12 and 16. It was introduced for the 1960 F1, F2 and FJ seasons, with about 27 examples of the F1 and F2 versions and 110 of the FJ versions being built. As a stop-gap before the introduction of the 18’s successor models, the Lotus 20 for F2/FJ and 21 for F1, some 18 chassis were rebodied with 21 skins to create the interim Lotus 18/21 hybrid derivative. The car was a classic Chapman design, being extremely light and simple; the body was made up of lightweight panels bolted to heavily-triangulated tube frame (almost spaceframe) chassis. Thus the car was rigid, strong and light, maintaining the 16’s forward weight distribution despite the engine moving behind the driver. It was powered initially by a 2,467 cc Coventry Climax FPF four cylinder DOHC engine inherited from the Grand Prix version of the Lotus 16. In 1960, the FPF was enlarged slightly to 2497 cc, which produced 239 hp at 6,750 rpm from a weight of only 290 lbs and had a wide torque range. The 2.5 litre engine was replaced by a 1.5 litre Climax FPF Mk.II with new Formula One engine rules in 1961. The Formula Junior variant used a 998 cc Cosworth Mk.III or a Downton BMC “A” Series with 948cc displacement. The Formula Junior version also used smaller gauge chassis tubing and Alfin drum brakes on all four corners.
1956 MI-Val Mivalino: If the Mivalino looks familiar, it’s because it’s all but identical to the Messerschmitt KR175 when viewed from the outside. Italian motorcycle manufacturer Metalmeccanica Italiana Valtrompia (MI-Val) imported KR175s from Germany and powered them with its own 172cc single-cylinder engine.
The majority of the upstairs gallery of the museum is given over to motorbikes, and there is a vast collection of them on display, from familiar marques and ones you may never have heard of. It turns out that Umberto Panini’s first love was in fact Bikes and he started collecting these long before the cars came long, often getting hold of them cheaply, and rather grimly, from widows of former riders who wanted rid of them following an accident or a tragic death. Of course Maserati did produce their own motorbikes in the 30s, and so did a number of other marques better known for their cars, but also here were plenty of bikes from those who have specialised in this form of transport.
Perhaps the most remarkable item in this part of the collection was this, the Lambretta Siluro. 121mph is a lot for a 125cc engine, but back in 1951 it was incredible. As ever the drive to do this came from competition. Innocenti wanted their Lambretta to beat Piaggio’s great rival – the Vespa. At the start of the 1950s when both firms had only been running less than a handful of years, they each sought to prove their superiority through sport. The companies began to contest the 125cc top speed world record, quickly eclipsing motorcycle records using souped-up 2-stroke scooter engines. Vespa had achieved over 107mph with their aluminium streamlined scooter using an incredibly complex opposed piston engine. However, a little while later in 1951, Innocenti put the record out of Piaggio’s reach with a 201kmh (121mph) run by Romolo Ferri on a closed section of German autobahn between Munich and Ingolstadt. How did Innocenti go so fast? The answer is relatively simple. Aerodynamics and power. Attaining the level required however, is not simple. Several versions of the Lambretta streamliner were proposed with various riding positions. In the end this fully-enclosed Siluro (Torpedo) body was developed with elasticated flaps that closed when the rider crouched and withdrew his feet. The only disruptions to the smooth shell are two front vents that channel air over the upright finned cylinder. The engine is a sand-cast special, but still based very much on the Lambretta Model C layout used for production racing in events like Milan-Taranto. The key to making more power was Innocenti’s own crankshaft-driven supercharger which blew more than 125cc of fuel and air into the engine every stroke. Together with 18:1 compression and a high-octane alcohol fuel/oil mix the Lambretta engine eventually made 20.75hp at 9,700rpm. Shortly afterwards, another motorcycle racer called Renato Maggi was killed trying to retake the 125cc record for MV Agusta in a prone streamliner. Maggi’s death caused all the firms involved in record breaking at that time to call an unofficial truce. This left the Lambretta Siluro as the outright winner of this particular contest, so it was put proudly on display in the Innocenti offices. Here was lipstick red evidence of the might of the Milanese factory and their engineers from Innocenti’s Centro Studi, lead by Pier Luigi Torre. A decade later the streamliner was called up for one last starring role, as a moving prop for an Italian movie. All that was required was a ride-by in the background, but this meant making the historic machine more reliable and easier to start. For this job, the supercharger and battery-powered total loss ignition were removed. A standard magneto ignition was fitted in their place. A standard 20mm carburettor from a production Lambretta TV175 was fitted. A 3mm thick head gasket was added to reduce the compression for easier starting and to permit the use of petrol instead of alcohol. After the closure of Innocenti the record breaker was purchased by the Panini family.
At this point it is appropriate to mention the fact that the museum is actually housed in a large outbuilding in a working farm. The Panini family made money originally from the Panini football stickers, but these days the focus is on the products of their organic farm, a venture they have been running for nearly 50 years. Indeed there is a farm shop which you may wish to pop in to as part of your visit. Knowing that I had travelled to Italy with hand luggage meant I had no room to take things back with me, but the products on offer certainly look tempting. Given this background, it is perhaps no surprise to discover a long line of tractors parked up outside the main museum building.
Also outside are a number of other artefacts including this from the front of a Barchetta.
This is a fabulous collection. It might not be as well known as the Ferrari and Lamborghini museums in the area, which is a shame, as it is definitely up there in terms of quality of exhibit. I cannot commend it highly enough for anyone who loves cars, especially Maserati cars.
More details, including how to request a visit can be found on the museum’s website: https://www.paninimotormuseum.it/index.php?lang=2