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Maserati A6
by www.maserati-alfieri.co.uk


1956 Maserati A6G 2000 Zagato

The A6 1500 (1946-1950)

The revival of sporting activity in Italy after the second world war, as far as motor sport was concerned, was a rather slow process. The road network was in desperate need of repair and the few permanent circuits like Monza were reduced to a pitiful state. The few pre-war race cars remaining were showing their years, in spite of the efforts of enthusiasts and owners who had rescued them from the horrors of war. Understandably, energies and resources were concentrated on activities of greater social and economic importance.


One of the first A6 1500s with coachwork by Pinin Farina

For obvious reasons the first races, mainly held on temporary circuits, were more suited to 'sports cars' than the more costly and sophisticated single-seater race cars. In 1946, however, the Italian Sport Commission undertook to organise motor sport by drawing up a preliminary draft of regulations and subdivisions for the various classes. To simplify matters, competitions after the war were grouped into three main classes: Touring, Sports Car and Grand Prix (then divided in Formula 1 and 2). These were in turn categorised depending on engine size and cars with supercharged engines were banned from the Touring and Sports Car classes.


1949 Maserati A6/1500 Berlinetta

If Maserati initially threw its efforts towards sports cars it was because of necessity rather than choice. In the years leading up to the war, plans were drafted for a 6-cyl normally aspirated 1.5-litre engine. This was derived directly from that of the 6CM (with supercharger), the successful pre-war single-seater (1936-1939). In early 1946 the engine, known as the 'A6TR' ('Testa Riportata'), was first used in a 'Barchetta' - a collaboration between Ernesto Maserati and engineer Alberto Massimino for a loyal customer, one Guido Barbieri. The car became the model line for cars known as the A6, constructed in two types, 'touring' and 'race'. From this model line came the A6GCS, one of the great race cars of the post-war era.

The Barchetta prototype, officially named the '6CS/46' but more commonly known as the 'A6 Sport', had a rather short motor sport career. The same can be said of another model constructed some months later and driven by 'Gigi' Villoresi in a few races without much success. However in 1947 Guido Barbieri in an 'A6 Sport' won the Italian title in the 1500 cc class.

Ernesto Maserati, the now technical director for the 'Casa del Tridente', decided that engine 'A6TR' was to power a production car, not a race car. At the 1947 Geneva Motor Show, the A6 was unveiled as a two-door 'berlinetta', designed by Pinin Farina with its modified 1488cc engine (the ignition and induction were simplified and it was eqipped with one carburettor instead of three) now producing 65 bhp and a top speed of 150 km/h. The 'A6' heralded Maserati's entry into the field of 'mass production' whilst still preserving its racing soul.

  A6 Technical specification
Engine Front engined 6-cyl in line
Bore and stroke 66mm x 72.5mm
Cubic capacity 1488.2 cc
Compression ratio 7.25:1
Distribution OHC with 2 valves per cylinder @ 75°
Induction system Normally aspirated with No 1 Weber 36DCR carburettor
Power output 65bhp @ 4700 rpm
Ignition Single with Marelli ST95DAS distributor
Lubrication Forced by pressure pump
Cooling Water cooled forced by centrifugal pump
Gearbox and clutch 4-speed and reverse -  single dry plate
Transmission Rear wheel drive
Chassis Tubular structure with longitudinal and cross members
Front suspension Independent with coil springs and Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers
Rear suspension Rigid axle with coil springs and Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers
Steering Rack and pinion
Brakes Hydraulically operated drum brakes
Wheels Pressed steel 3.50 x 16 (Wire wheels optional)
Tyres Pirelli 5.50 x 16
Wheelbase 2550 mm
Wheel track Front - 1274 mm and rear - 1251 mm
Dry weight Berlinetta from 780 - 950 kg - Spider 800 kg
Bodywork 2-door Berlinetta and Spider 2+2 by Pinin Farina
Overall dimensions Dependant on type of bodywork
Maximum speed
 
150 kph / 94 mph
 

The term 'mass production' is perhaps a little misleading as every car at Maserati was practically hand-built. In fact Pinin Farina introduced a new version with re-styled headlamps and an additional side window only a few months after the debut of the 'A6'. At the 1948 Turin Show, a spyder version was finally launched, of which only two examples were made of a total A6 production of 61 cars between 1947 and 1950.

Maserati's entry into 'mass production' didn't signal the end of competition and sports car production. After all, Maserati's primary source of pre-war revenue were its motor sport customers; a loyalty that Maserati were not about to overlook. The real reason was to find an effective way of competing in the 'Sports car' category which towards the end of 1947 culminated in the 'A6GCS', where 'G' stood for 'Ghisa' (the cast iron cylinder block) and CS its purpose 'Corsa and Sports-car'. Engine size was increased from 1.5 to 2-litres, and with an increase in the compression ratio and the addition of two extra carburettors, power output was almost doubled from 65bhp to 120bhp. However the most interesting technical innovations were to be found in the body and chassis. The 'barchetta' configuration was abandoned and replaced with the new fashion of the time, uncovered wheels with motorcycle type mudguards. For the first time in a car of this type, the chassis was tubular and appreciably lower in weight (around 630kg). Another peculiar characteristic of the 'A6GCS' was the position of its engine: slightly off the centre-line towards the passenger side. This allowed the driver's seat, and therefore the centre of gravity, to be lowered.

The A6G (1951-1953)


1956 Maserati A6G/2000 Coupe

A6G Technical specification
Engine Front engined 6-cyl in line
Bore and stroke 72mm x 80mm
Cubic capacity 1954.3 cc
Compression ratio 7.8:1
Distribution OHC with 2 valves per cylinder @ 71.5°
Induction system Normally aspirated with No 3 Weber 36DO4 carburettors or No 1 40DCR carburettor
Power output 100bhp @ 5500 rpm
Ignition Single with Marelli ST95DAS distributor
Lubrication Forced by pressure pump
Cooling Water cooled forced by centrifugal pump
Gearbox and clutch 4-speed and reverse -  single dry plate
Transmission Rear wheel drive
Chassis Tubular structure with longitudinal and cross members
Front suspension Independent with coil springs and Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers
Rear suspension Rigid axle with coil springs and Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers
Steering Rack and pinion
Brakes Hydraulically operated drum brakes
Wheels Pressed steel 3.50 x 16 (Wire wheels optional)
Tyres Pirelli 5.50 x 16
Wheelbase 2550 mm
Wheel track Front - 1274 mm and rear - 1251 mm
Dry weight 1100 kg kg
Bodywork 2-door Coupé and Spider 2+2 by Pinin Farina, Frua, Bertone, Vignale, Zagato and Ghia
Overall dimensions Dependant on type of bodywork
Maximum speed 160 kph / 100 mph

 

It was the rivalry with Ferrari which stirred Maserati from its dormant years in the early fifties. Maserati had now left the factory to form OSCA and the Orsi family decided to meet the challenge on all fronts: F1, F2 and 'sports car', with less emphasis on 'gran turismo' production. In 1951, the talents of Alberto Massimino, now promoted technical director in place of Ernesto Maserati, focussed on plans for a new F2. This was now the senior formula as race organisers had decided that their round on the World Championship would be held to Formula 2 regulations. This caused the abandonment of the F1 World Driver's Championship in 1952 and 1953. It seemed obvious to Maserati to start with the basic A6GCS, considering its occasional use for 'sports car', with minor modifications for formula 'Cadet'. And so was born the 'A6GCM' (M for 'monoposto' - single-seater). But alas once again this hybrid achieved little success on the track.

The man who changed their fortunes was Gioacchino Colombo, father of the Grand Prix 'Alfette' and designer of the first 12-cyl Ferrari. Colombo, who replaced Massimino in the months prior to his leaving Maserati to join Bugatti, modernised Maserati's technical department, thereby laying the foundations for the successes of the Fifties and the Sixties.

The first Maserati on which Colombo concentrated his efforts was the 'A6GCM'. The stroke of the 6-cyl engine was shortened to gain more revs; increasing power to a respectable 190bhp. With a little work on the suspension and brakes, Maserati had a winning 'monoposto' by the end of 1952. Colombo's revised 'A6GCM' was an instant success, demonstrating itself to be the only car capable of challenging the dominance of the Ferrari '500 F.2'. But above all it was the inspiration for the 'A6GCS/53', the car that replaced the now ageing 'A6GCS'. The main changes made were to the engine: the cylinder size, the induction system, the gear-driven twin overhead camshafts and the twin ignition system. The engine of the 'A6GCS' was very similar to that of the 'A6GCM' and had a power output of 170bhp, with only one major difference: the adaptation for the use of commercial petrol, in anticipation of a change in motor sport regulations.

Following his usual approach, Colombo, having worked on the engine, set about improving the performance of the 'A6GCS' by scrutinising every other component. For the body he opted for the 'Barchetta' shape, which offered aerodynamic advantages. The body remained largely unchanged during its entire production; the only difference was to the front grille which was eventually adorned with the Trident. Colombo was quite happy to retain the better characteristics of the 'GCS' and transferred to the 'GCS/53' all the experiences he had gained in the designing of the 'GCM'. He made alterations to the suspension geometry and finally improved brake cooling.

The setting up of a World Championship for sports cars in 1953 gave the 'A6GCS/53' project a tremendous boost. From its first appearances, its debut was at the Tour of Sicily 1953, the 'A6GCS/53' revealed extraordinary speed and handling qualities. On circuits around the world they were often to be seen leading opposition powered by engines of a greater capacity. Many drivers achieved success, nationally and internationally, in the 'A6GCS/53' and of these two in particular stood out, Sergio Mantovani and Luigi Musso who in 2-litre Maseratis won Italian Championships in 1953 and 1954, before moving on to Formula 1. Other drivers and owner/drivers who cannot go unmentioned are Emmanuel De Graffenried, Emilio Giletti, Felice Bonetto, Alfonso De Portago, Cesare Perdisa, Benoit Musy and Maria Teresa De Filippis (now President of the Registro Maserati).

All the 'A6GCS/53s' were fitted with bodies by Medardo Fantuzzi and in some cases by Celestino Fiandri. The only exceptions being three Berlinettas with coachwork by Pinin Farina and two spiders, one by Frua and the other by Vignale. In two years (from May 1953 to April 1955), total production was 52 cars. An exceptional number for that period when one realises that this was primarily a competition model.

The A6GCS/53


The A6GCS/53 Barchetta with coachwork by Medardo Fantuzzi.


The A6GCS/53 Barchetta with coachwork by Medardo Fantuzzi.


The A6GCS/53 Berlinetta with coachwork by Pinin Farina.

  A6GCS/53 Technical specification
 Engine  Front engined 6-cylinder in line
 Bore and stroke  76.5mm x 72mm
 Cubic capacity  1985.6 cc
 Compression ratio  8.75:1
 Distribution  DOHC with 2 valves per cylinder
 Induction system  Normally aspirated with No 3 Weber 40DCO3 carburettors
 Power output  170bhp @ 7300 rpm
 Ignition  Double with Marelli ST65DTEM distributors(1952-53)
 Lubrication  Forced by pressure and scavenger pumps
 Cooling  Water cooled forced by centrifugal pump and oil cooler
 Gearbox and clutch  4-speed and reverse - dry multiplate plate
 Transmission  Rear wheel drive
 Chassis  Tubular structure with longitudinal and cross members
 Front suspension  Independent with coil springs and Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar
 Rear suspension  Rigid axle with longitudinal leaf springs
 and Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar
 Steering  Rack and pinion
 Brakes  Hydraulically operated drum brakes
  (diameter front 328x60 mm and rear 290x50 mm)
 Wheels  Wire wheels 4.50 x 16
 Tyres  Pirelli front 6.00 x 16
 Wheelbase  2310mm
 Wheel track  Front - 1335mm / Rear - 1220mm
 Dry weight  740 kg
 Bodywork  Two-seater barchetta, berlinetta and spider
 Overall dimensions  Length - 3840 mm / Width - 1530 mm / Height - 860 mm
 Maximum speed  235 kph / 147 mph

 

In 1954, following the success of the ‘A6GCS/53’, Maserati produced a Touring version, the 'A6G/54'. Presented at the Paris Motor Show, it was fitted with the 6 cylinders 2-litre twin overhead camshaft engine of the 'sports car' but this time no effort was made to detune the engine. This did not escape the notice of certain customers who raced them in the GT category. Sixty units of the 'A6G/54' were produced with coachwork by Frua, AIlemano and as shown below by Zagato.

The A6G/54


The last of the road A6s, the A6G/54 with coachwork by Zagato.

A6G/54 Technical specification
 Engine  Front engined 6-cylinder in line
 Bore and stroke  76.5mm x 72mm
 Cubic capacity  1985.6 cc
 Compression ratio  8:1
 Distribution  DOHC with 2 valves per cylinder
 Induction system  Normally aspirated with No 3 Weber 40DCO3 carburettors
 Power output  150bhp @ 6000 rpm
 Ignition  Double with Marelli ST111DTEM distributors(1952-53)
 Lubrication  Forced by pressure pump
 Cooling  Water cooled forced by centrifugal pump and oil cooler
 Gearbox and clutch  4-speed and reverse - single dry plate plate
 Transmission  Rear wheel drive
 Chassis  Tubular structure with longitudinal and cross members
 Front suspension  Independent with coil springs and Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar
 Rear suspension  Rigid axle with longitudinal leaf springs
 and Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar
 Steering  Rack and pinion
 Brakes  Hydraulically operated drum brakes
  (diameter front 328x60 mm and rear 290x50 mm)
 Wheels  Wire wheels 4.50 x 16
 Tyres  Pirelli front 6.00 x 16
 Wheelbase  2550mm
 Wheel track  Front - 1360mm / Rear - 1220mm
 Dry weight  840 kg
 Bodywork  Two-seater barchetta, berlinetta and spider
 Overall dimensions  Length - 3840 mm / Width - 1530 mm / Height - 860 mm
 Maximum speed  195 - 210 kph / 147 mph

 

When at the end of 1953 the international motor racing body raised the permitted engine capacity to a maximum of 2500 cc, the remaining 2-litres cars, single-seater and 'sports car', were officially withdrawn, but many continued to race under private ownership for some years. 1954 saw the arrival of the 250F (F for Formula 1) and the 250S (S for sports car), but that's another story.