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Maserati Tipo 63 'Birdcage'

The Maserati Tipo was given the nickname 'Birdcage' because of its triangulated, tubular chassis construction that resembled a birdcage which could be seen through the vehicle's large front windscreen. The Tipo 60 and 61 cars featured a front-engined design. The first rear-engine design, the Tipo 63, was actually powered by a 2890.3 cc Tipo 61 four-cylinder engine inclined at a 58-degree angle. Introduced near the close of 1961 the Maserati Tipo 61 had been designed by Giulio Alfieri to accommodate a 3-liter V8 engine. Many components were borrowed from the prior birdcage models such as the five-speed transaxle and front suspension. In the rear, however, was an independent suspension with coil springs.

Alfieri modified the suspension and the four-cylinder engine was replaced with a 2989 12-cylidner engine from the 250F T2. The engine was so large that it intruded into the cockpit. The Tipo 63 Birdcage's were constructed for Cunningham, Serenissima, and Camoradi teams and driven by famous drivers such as Bruce McLaren, Walt Hansgen, Stirling Moss, Masten Gregory, and others. On the track the vehicles were met with disappointing results. They are best remembered for its fourth place finish at the gruelling 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race driven by team Cunningham.

Many of the disappointing finishes were caused by mechanical issues such as a carburettor problem that cause Dick Thompson and Bill Kimberley to finish 9th at the Road America 500 in 1961. Scarfiotti and Vaccarella failed to finish at Nurburgring due to bad weather - water had entered the carburettors. A Tipo 61 finished the race in first place. In 1961 four Tipo 63 models were entered into the Le Mans race were three failed to finish. The fourth had been crashed during during practice by Walt Hansgen after the suspension collapsed. It was rebuilt for the Le Mans race where it was driven by Pabst and Thompson and achieved a fourth-place finish.

In total only seven Tipo 63's, two Tipo 64's, and one Tipo 65 were constructed between late 1960 and early 1965.

The Tipo 64 was introduced in 1962, also a rear-engine design. The frame was comprised of very small tubes also of a birdcage structure. The rear suspension was changed in favour of a de Dion suspension. Journalists dubbed the car a Supercage.

There were two Tipo 63's given the number 63.002, both were constructed for Briggs Cunningham, one was a SWB the other a LWB. This may have been done to avoid import duties imposed by the United States. All of the Maserati Tipo 63 models are accounted for and exist today.

The Tipo 63 has been featured in a film and even made an appearance in Elvis Presley's Viva Las Vegas. The Maserati Tipo 63 was a very quick car able to achieve speeds of 180 mph but it suffered from handling issues. Another issue was the lack of serious development work mainly because of financial constraints meaning the Tipo 63 never achieved its true potential.
 

1961 Maserati Tipo 63/64 Birdcage

Year 1961
Make Maserati
Model Tipo 63/64 Birdcage
Engine Location Mid
Drive Type Rear Wheel
Body Designer Pininfarina

 

Weight 745 kg | 1642.7 lbs
 
Performance
Top Speed 312 km/h | 193.9 mph
 
Engine  
Engine Configuration V
  60-degree
Cylinders 12
Aspiration/Induction Normal
Displacement 2989.00 cc | 182.4 cu in. | 3 L.
Horsepower 330.00 BHP (242.9 KW) @ 8500.00 RPM
HP to Weight Ratio 5.0 LB / HP
HP / Liter 110.0 BHP / Litre
Fuel Type Gasoline - Petrol
 
Standard Transmission
Gears 4
Transmission Manual
 
Dimensions   
Exterior
Length 3.941 m | 155.2 in. | 3942.1 mm.
Width 1.541 m | 60.7 in. | 1541.8 mm.
Wheelbase 86.601 in | 2199.7 mm.
Front Track 49.201 in | 1249.7 mm.
Rear Track 47.201 in | 1198.9 mm.
 
Suspension
Suspension Front : Double Wishbones with Coil Springs, telescopic Shock Aborbers

Rear : Independent suspension by coil springs