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  Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage

  Article Image gallery (247) Chassis (12) Specifications User Comments (3)  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1959 - 1960
Numbers built:16
Designed by:Giulio Alfieri
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:January 05, 2015
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Click here to download printer friendly versionOf all the great cars created by Giulio Alfieri, the 'Birdcage' Maserati ranks among the very best. Introduced in 1959 and available with a 2.0-litre (Tipo 60) or 2.8-litre (Tipo 61) engine, it featured a hugely sophisticated tubular spaceframe chassis that gave the sports racer its nickname. By this time, Maserati had already disbanded its works racing team, so fielding the car was strictly down to privateers, who did so remarkably well.

Alfieri had first experimented with spaceframe chassis a few years earlier, when he created the second generation 250F. For the Tipo 60/61, the talented Italian engineer took the design a few steps further. Much like a birdcage, the entire chassis was constructed by welding together short, narrow gauge, tubular steel sections with a diameter of 10 or 15 mm. The result was an elaborate but very strong and lightweight chassis.

Although still ahead of the driver, the engine was mounted well behind the front axle and at a 45° angle to reduce the frontal area and centre of gravity. Derived from the 200S unit, the four-cylinder engine featured a redesigned head in which the exhaust and intake ports had swapped sides. An all-new triangular sump was created to allow for the angled installation. In Tipo 60 trim, it was good for around 200 bhp, while the larger engined produced around 250 bhp.

Double-wishbone suspension with coil springs was used at the front, The rear-end used the familiar DeDion setup with a transverse leaf spring. The five-speed gearbox was mounted in-unit with the differential to remove some more weight from the front wheels. Disc brakes were fitted on all four corners. A lightweight aluminium body was tightly wrapped over the chassis with the tall front fenders accentuating just how low the car was.

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  Article Image gallery (247) Chassis (12) Specifications User Comments (3)