Model history: When the Maserati brothers sold their ailing company to the Orsi family in 1937, they agreed to stay on for a decade. One of their final contributions to the company they founded was a new naturally aspirated straight six engine. It was dubbed the A6 in honour of Alfieri Maserati, who had died in 1932 from complications after an accident. Introduced to the public in 1946, the new 'six' would serve Maserati for over a decade.
While the engine had debuted in the company's first road car, it was quickly adapted for competition use. One of the biggest changes was an increase in displacement from 1.5 to 2 litre, by virtue of a larger bore and stroke. The engine was constructed using a cast-iron crank case with an alloy head. Relatively simple in design, this head featured a single overhead camshaft. Breathing through triple Weber carburettors, the 2-litre A6 engine produced around 130 bhp.
Mated to a four speed gearbox, the A6 engine was installed in a conventional ladder frame. This was constructed from round-steel side and cross members by specialists Gilco, who were also responsible for many of the early Ferrari chassis. Suspension was by double wishbones and coil springs at the front and a live axle and semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. Houdaille lever arm shock absorbers were found on all four corners, as were the hydraulic operated drum brakes.
Although officially known as the '2000 Sport', the new Maserati sports racer was much known as the A6GCS. That was short for Ghisa (cast-iron, referring to the engine), Corsa (competition) and Sport. The first A6GCS sported a coupe body but this was quickly abandoned in a favour of a much lighter 'siluro' or cycle fender body, created for Maserati by Medardo Fantuzzi. One of the design's most recognisable features was a single headlight (monofaro) mounted in the grille.
The A6GCS was campaigned by the works team and also offered to customers. Development on the car was continuous, so no two were exactly alike. Among the first changes was the adoption of an alloy cylinder block and to the final models dry-sump lubrication was also fitted. The very last car sported a twin-cam cylinder head that had been developed for the A6GCM Formula 2 racer.
Eventually little over a dozen of the original A6GCS were produced before it was replaced by a new model that included all the updates. Introduced in 1953, this 'series 2' was accordingly known as the A6GCS/53. Due to rule changes, Fantuzzi developed a new fully-enveloping body, replacing the original siluro style.
Raced by some of the time's most talented drivers like Luigi Villoresi and a young Alberto Ascari, the A6GCS faced strong competition from among other machinery the very first Ferraris. They nevertheless managed to score victories in sports car races throughout Italy in the late 1940s. That success would lay the foundation for a long range of Maserati sports and Grand Prix racers.
The second of three examples built in 1947, chassis 2002 was entered by the works team for Luigi Villoresi. At the end of the year, this early A6GCS was sold to an Italian privateer. It remained in Italy for many more years and among its owners was Maria Theresa de Filippis; the first woman to compete in an F1 race. Fully restored, chassis 2002 eventually ended up in Belgian hands at the end of the 1990s. Still in Belgian ownership, it is seen here during the 2010 Monaco Historic Grand Prix, with the fenders removed.