Vintage Profile: Maserati wins 1939 Indianapolis 500

Wilbur Shaw in the Maserati 8CTF at Indy | Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Wilbur Shaw in the Maserati 8CTF at Indy | Indianapolis Motor Speedway

In 1938, Ernesto Maserati developed the Maserati 8CTF to compete with the likes of Mercedes and Auto Union on the European GP circuit. Although not particularly successful on the Continent, the car gained fame stateside with a historic victory at the Indianapolis 500. Continue reading

Maserati, Ferrari prototypes set for RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction

The 1968 Ghibli Spyder prototype was used by Maserati as a show car | RM Sotheby’s photos
The 1968 Ghibli Spyder prototype was used by Maserati as a show car | RM Sotheby’s photos

Two significant Italian sports-car prototypes, the first Maserati Ghibli Spyder and the original U.S.-spec Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona, will be offered by RM Sotheby’s at its Monterey auction in August.

The 1968 Ghibli is documented as the first Spyder built, with some key differences from production models. The convertible, with VIN 1001, features styling by Ghia and wears its original color combination. Continue reading

Historic ‘time capsule’ Maserati racer to Gooding sale

The 1956 Maserati sports racer retains its original factory engine and bodywork | Mathieu Heurtault/Gooding
The 1956 Maserati sports racer retains its original factory engine and bodywork | Mathieu Heurtault/Gooding

A groundbreaking 1950s Maserati sports racing car driven by some of the greatest names in motorsport history headlines Gooding & Company’s classic car auction in March at Amelia Island, Florida.

The 1956 Maserati 200 SI, the first car built on the 200S chassis, has an illustrious competition history as a works development car and factory team racer.

Gooding describes the Maserati as being in “time capsule” original condition.

The purity of this 200 SI race car is unparalleled for this era.”

“Boasting an outstanding racing record, chassis 2401 participated in all the great European and South American events during its racing career, capturing podium finishes at Nurburgring, Napoli, Caracas and Bari,” Gooding says in a news release. “It has competed in many renowned races, including the Cuban Grand Prix, Mille Miglia, Monza, Targa Florio, Grand Prix of Rome, and driven by famed racing drivers Stirling Moss, Jean Behra, Guiseppe Musso, Luigi Bellucci and Piero Taruffi.”

In more-recent years, the Maserati has competed successfully in key vintage racing events as well as concours showings; it won best in class at the 2010 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

Despite all that track activity through the years, the Maserati remains in essentially original condition, Gooding says: “Retaining its factory-delivered engine, chassis and bodywork, the purity of this 200 SI race car is unparalleled for this era.”

The pre-auction value estimate for the Maserati is available on request from Gooding, but judging by the soaring values for such historic competition cars from Europe, the bidding should go well into seven figures.

“With substantial and thorough documentation, extensive competition history, beautiful, purposeful patina and its distinctively exposed original bodywork, this 1950s two-liter racing car will be a coveted offering among all Amelia Island auctions,” Gooding states.

The Gooding auction starts at 11 a.m. on March 13 at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation. For more information, see goodingco.com.

 

2014 top stories: No. 9 — Mustang, Maserati and other anniversary celebrations

A classic Mustang convertible arrives in Phoenix during a cross-country anniversary drive | Larry Edsall
A classic Mustang convertible arrives in Phoenix during a cross-country anniversary drive | Larry Edsall

Ford Mustang galloped into the consciousness of classic car enthusiasts throughout 2014 as the original pony car celebrated its 50th anniversary, and was featured as the centerpiece for many major events held coast-to-coast.

The official birth date was proclaimed as April 17, 1964, which marked the sports coupe’s unveiling to wild acclaim at the New York World’s Fair. To commemorate that day, thousands of Mustangs of every ilk took part in a pair of coinciding cross-country drives – one drive wouldn’t be enough – that took the herds to thunderous Mustang festivals in mid-April.

Although Mustang stole most of the glory, there were a number of other significant classic car anniversaries to crow about during the year, though for American drivers, none of them had the cultural significance of the first Mustang.

1956 Maserati A6G/54 Frua(front) and 1955 Maserati A6G/54 Zagato at Pebble Beach | Bob Golfen
1956 Maserati A6G/54 Frua (front) and 1955 Maserati A6G/54 Zagato at Pebble Beach | Bob Golfen

At a more global level was the 100th anniversary of Maserati, one of the world’s greatest racing and sports-car brands. The official Maserati Centennial gathering happened in Italy, naturally, with hundreds of vintage and contemporary models gathering in Cremona – where Maserati set a major speed record in 1929 – during a drive from Modena to Turin.

But Maserati also was celebrated worldwide with high-end car shows and concours d’elegance events choosing Maserati as honored marque and bringing out rare and historic examples of the high-performance cars for the public to marvel at.

That wasn’t the only important anniversary for Maserati. In May, the Indianapolis 500 honored the 75th anniversary of Maserati’s historic win of the 1939 race by Wilbur Shaw driving the Maserati 8CTF “Boyle Special.” The sleek race car, which Shaw also drove to victory in 1940, was back on the track before the Indy race as veteran race driver Johnny Rutherford took the restored beauty for a parade lap before the roaring crowd.

Dodge also hit the century mark during 2014, setting the date when the Dodge Brothers rolled out their first automobile in November 2014. The yearlong celebration seemed pretty low-key overall, although there was a major corporate party in July at Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester Hills, Michigan, with a fine assemblage of vintage Dodge cars and concepts.

Also marking the occasion were 100th Anniversary Editions of the Charger and Challenger

The original 1964 Pontiac GTO | Charlotte AutoFest
The original 1964 Pontiac GTO | Charlotte AutoFest

Along with the Mustang, another significant domestic fun car celebrated 50 years. It was the groundbreaking 1964 Pontiac GTO, widely regarded as the muscle car that set the tone for the horsepower wars between American brands through the ’60s and early ’70s. That, as well as becoming an enduring subject for rock ‘n’ roll songs.

Sadly, Pontiac is no longer with us, so the celebration took on something of a muted tone. Although there was at least one big birthday party, held during the 2014 convention of the GTO Association of America car club in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.

A remarkable piece of America ingenuity also celebrated its 50th this year, the Meyers Manx dune buggy that was hand-built by Bruce Meyers from fiberglass and VW running gear in his Newport Beach, California, garage. The simple Manx was the first of its kind, which many others copied, and it became emblematic of the 1960s California beach culture.

1964 Meyers Manx in its natural surroundings | Historic Vehicle Association
1964 Meyers Manx in its natural surroundings | Historic Vehicle Association

Manx’s anniversary was officially celebrated in Washington, D.C., during the Historic Vehicle Association’s inaugural Cars at the Capitol automotive heritage celebration in May, when the iconic dune buggy became the second automobile entered into the National Historic Vehicle Register of the Library of Congress (the original Shelby Cobra Daytona race car was the first).

And speaking of Volkswagen, the Beetle marked the 65th year since its introduction to the United States in January 1949. A Dutch businessman became the first importer for VW, and only two of them were sold that first year. But Volkswagen of America established its headquarters on the East Coast later in 1949, and within just a few years, 10s of thousands of beetles were plying American roads.

One of the greatest sports racing cars of the 1950s, the Jaguar D-type, made its debut in 1954 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it roared to second place overall. For its 60th anniversary, the magnificent D-Type is remembered not only for its race-winning performance but for such innovative features as monocoque construction and disc brakes.

Finally, another European automaker celebrated an important milestone during 2014. For Swedish automaker Volvo, it was the 70th anniversary of the unveiling of its seminal compact car, the PV444, shown in prototype form in Stockholm during World War II. The automaker’s first unibody design, the PV444 would begin production in March 1947 and paved the way for Volvo’s legacy of sturdy, safe and well-conceived automobiles.

 

Memorable Maseratis on display in Modena exhibition

Maserati’s mighty 250F grand prix racer stands with a 5000 GT touring car | Maserati
Maserati’s mighty 250F grand prix racer stands with a 5000 GT touring car | Maserati

The 100th anniversary of the founding of Maserati is being celebrated in grand style with a sweeping display of the historic marque’s most-significant automobiles at the spectacular Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena, Italy.

Dubbed “the greatest exhibition of Maserati cars ever staged anywhere in the world,” the show traces the history of Maserati through its collection of 21 cars that will be displayed throughout the six-month exhibit, plus about 10 others that will be rotated through because of outside appearances at other Maserati centenary events around the world.

The purposeful Maserati V4 Sport Zagato | Maserati
The Maserati V4 Sport Zagato at the Enzo Ferrari Museum | Maserati

The unique exhibit, named “Maserati 100: A Century of Pure Italian Luxury Sports Cars,” includes a colorful video show that uses 19 projectors to enable visitors to relive significant moments in Maserati’s history and meet the people who shaped it. The Maserati exhibition will run through January 2015.

“This exhibition, which retraces our first century of history, is truly one of a kind: never before have all these models which have shaped our history been gathered together under one roof,” said Maserati CEO Harald Wester at the dedication of the show.

The Maserati exhibition displays the two sides of the company: the initial “sports” vocation from the early 1920s until the end of the 1950s, followed by a shift to road-going models that heralded the company’s coming-of-age as a car manufacturer.

The Tipo 26 of 1926 wore the first Maserati badge | Maserati
The Tipo 26 of 1926 wore the first Maserati badge | Maserati

Among the featured cars are the Tipo 26, a racer unveiled in 1926 as the first car to sport the Maserati Trident badge; the V4 Sport Zagato, which set the world speed record in 1929 driven by Baconin Borzacchini and was re-bodied in 1934 by Zagato; and the legendary Maserati 250F, winner of the Formula 1 World Championship with Juan Manuel Fangio in 1954 and in 1957, the year when the Argentine ace triumphed after a fantastic comeback in the epic German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring circuit.

Racing great Sir Stirling Moss, who was guest of honor at the inauguration of the exhibit, drove this race car to some of his greatest successes. Moss drove many Maseratis to victory over his career, including another highlight of the exhibition, the Tipo 60 “Birdcage” sports racer that was famous for its ingenious lightweight chassis built from slender tubes.

Maserati’s first road car, the 1947 A6 1500 that was produced in limited numbers with a Pinin Farina body around a racing engine, shows the company’s start in sports touring cars. Ten years later, Maserati produced its signature 3500 GT, also on display.

Tipo 60 “Birdcage” sports racer pioneered tube chassis | Maserati
Tipo 60 “Birdcage” sports racer pioneered tube chassis | Maserati

The new Enzo Ferrari Museum, located near the Maserati headquarters in Viale Ciro Menotti, is dedicated to the birthplace and boyhood home of the founder and head of Ferrari and includes historic Ferraris and Alfa Romeo racing cars. Part of the exhibition is located in the large restored workshop where Enzo Ferrari’s father worked beginning in the last part of the 19th Century.

As well as being an exhibition of engineering and technology, the Maserati centennial display focuses on the especially important Italian automotive qualities of style and design. The cars on display are beautiful and evocative, and contain the DNA of any number of Italian design houses.

“For exclusive cars like Maseratis, style, together with speed and power, has always been a key element of success,” said Lorenzo Ramaciotti, head of the Maserati Style Center. “Maserati’s use of Italian designers who enjoyed the utmost freedom means that now, through the models on display, we can read a veritable anthology of designers at the height of their creative prowess.

“From Pininfarina, Touring and Frua to Bertone, Ghia, Giugiaro, Vignale and Zagato, all have contributed to the aesthetic heritage of Maserati with memorable models.”

Monterey Motorsports Reunion hosts a celebration day for the cars of Italy

A 1957 Maserati 250F leads a 1934 Alfa Romeo Tipo B at Laguna Seca | TM Hill / Mazda Raceway
A 1957 Maserati 250F leads a 1934 Alfa Romeo Tipo B at Laguna Seca | TM Hill / Mazda Raceway

The 100th anniversary of Maserati and a tribute to everything Italian will be celebrated at this year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Friday, August 15, including special benefits for drivers of all Italian cars.

Maserati is the featured marque for the 2014 Motorsports Reunion, which will host an expected 550 historic competition cars, ranging back to the early 1900s, racing wheel-to-wheel in 15 classes on the challenging Laguna Seca course from August 15 through 17.

We will be celebrating the magnificent history of not only Maserati, but that of all Italian cars as well.”

— Gill Campbell

On Friday, the Reunion will host a celebration of Italian motoring with special preferred parking for drivers of cars from Italy and a number of “surprises,” including a special celebrity meet and greet.

Italian car owners will be able to stroll among the Maserati heritage display in the race paddock, walk down the aisles of cars in their pits and see all 15 historic racing groups run throughout the day. The centerpiece of the paddock will be Maserati North America’s display of its rich heritage with significant cars from its past that only will be seen at Mazda Raceway.

“We will be celebrating the magnificent history of not only Maserati, but that of all Italian cars as well,” said Gill Campbell, CEO and general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “On Friday, our doors will be open to welcome Italian motor car enthusiasts so they may enjoy all the sights, sounds and racing pageantry that is unique to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.”

Considered one of the premier vintage-motorsports gatherings, the Motorsports Reunion is a popular spectator event described as “a museum springing to life” as some of the world’s most revered race cars perform on the track. The event takes place during Monterey’s famous classic car week of auctions and special events that culminate in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, August 17.

Friday admission tickets are $50 in advance and $70 at the gate. For Italian car aficionados, attendees who possess a Saturday Concorso Italiano ticket will be admitted free on Friday. And the first 100 Italian cars through the admission gates will receive a voucher to participate in a parade lap on the track. Advance three-day general admission tickets are $130.

For more information and a schedule of activities, visit www.MazdaRaceway.com.

1938 Maserati takes lap at Indy, honors in U.S. archive

Three-time Indy 500 winnerJohhny Rutherford drove the 1938 Maserati on its speedway lap | Maserati
Three-time Indy 500 winner Johhny Rutherford drove the 1938 Maserati on its speedway lap | Maserati

Seventy-five years after Maserati’s historic victory in the Indianapolis 500, the 1939-winning Maserati 8CTF “Boyle Special” was back on the track for a roaring victory lap.

Three-time Indy winner Johnny Rutherford was at the wheel of the sleek, cigar-shaped vintage race car for a parade lap before this year’s world-famous race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was won in 1939 and 1940 by renowned driver Wilbur Shaw in the Maserati 8CTF, serial number 3032.

The  Boyle Special was not only celebrating its milestone victory, but the 100th anniversary of the Maserati brand. Not only that, it was marking an important honor that will preserve this car’s memory in perpetuity in U.S. historic records.

Wilbur Shaw in the Boyle Special at Indy | Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Wilbur Shaw in the Boyle Special at Indy in 1941 | Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Historic Vehicle Association announced Sunday at Indy that the 1938 Maserati 8CTF would be the first automobile from a foreign manufacturer to be recorded under the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Heritage Documentation.

The documentation is part of the HVA’s National Historic Vehicle Register and Historic American Engineering Record that is permanently archived in the Library of Congress.

“The Maserati 8CTF Boyle Special is among the most historically significant race cars in America,” said Mark Gessler, HVA president. “Its historic significance is based on its association with important events and persons, its construction and design value as one of the most competitive and successful open-wheel racecar designs, and informational value as one of the few race cars from the period that retains much of its original materials, components and craftsmanship.”

The Maserati is the third historic vehicle so honored. The first was the 1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, the seminal version of the aerodynamic race cars that beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Next to be added to the U.S. archive was the original dune buggy, the unique VW-powered Meyers Manx that was hand-built in fiberglass by Bruce Meyers in 1964.

Rutherford waves to the crowd before the Indy 500 | Maserati
Rutherford waves to the crowd before the Indy 500 | Maserati

The Maserati occupies a powerful place in the legend of U.S. motorsports as one of the most successful race cars in the history of the Indianapolis 500. Originally conceived by Ernesto Maserati at the beginning of 1938 to challenge the dominance in Grand Prix racing by the German-government funded Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows, the 8CTF with its powerful 8-cylinder engine and solid reliability was found to be uniquely suited for competition in the classic American race on the giant oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Piloted by Shaw, considered to be one of the greatest American drivers of the era, the Maserati roared to convincing back-to-back wins in 1939 and 1940. Shaw and the Maserati were headed for another victory in 1941 when a collapsed wheel ended their race. After the war, the Maserati was back in competition at Indy from 1946 to 1949, and again in 1951.

Peter Grady, Maserati’s North American president and CEO, said, “Having the Maserati 8CTF Boyle Special to be included in the permanent archives of the Library of Congress is a great honor, particularly when Maserati is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2014.

“The recognition of the 75th anniversary of its first victory at Indy pays homage to our roots as a maker of successful race cars,” Grady added. “Witnessing the vintage Maserati 8CTF run with such rich automotive context of the Indianapolis 500 during its milestone anniversary is remarkable.”