Page 1 of 3 Next >> After a brief break, Maserati returned to racing in 1959 with the sophisticated and highly successful Tipo 60/61 'Birdcage'. Designed by Ing. Giulio Alfieri, the four-cylinder engined machine earned its nickname because of its spaceframe chassis that was constructed from a large number of short small-diameter tubes. Rapid developments in racing car design, specifically the mid-engine revolution, nevertheless forced Alfieri to start work on a replacement for the 'Birdcage' little over a year after it had been introduced.
Dubbed the Tipo 63, the new Maserati racer was one of Italy's first mid-engined sports racers. Despite moving the engine from ahead of the driver's compartment to behind it, Alfieri did carry over many of the mechanicals of the still hugely competitive Tipo 60/61. The key component of course was the sophisticated spaceframe chassis that had the front-engined machine its nickname. Due to the nature of its construction, the chassis design was relatively easily modified to suit its application. Simply put, the driver's seat and the engine were swapped around.
The compact double wishbone front suspension was carried over virtually unchanged. At the rear there were substantial changes as the DeDion axle with a single transverse leaf spring was replaced by a more straightforward double wishbone setup. Coil springs with Koni telescopic shock absorbers were fitted on all four corners, as were solid, hydraulically operated disc brakes. With the space behind the driver's compartment now filled with the engine and gearbox, there was no room left for the fuel tank. This was split into two separate tanks, mounted laterally on either side of the cockpit.
Alfieri intended the Tipo 63 to be powered by a three-litre variant of the V12 originally developed for the 250F Formula 1 car. By the time the first prototype was completed, the new engine was not yet available and the car was fitted with a 'four' from the earlier Birdcages. This was mated to a five speed gearbox. Like the Tipo 60/61, the new Birdcage was tightly wrapped in a curvaceous aluminium skin. Despite the mid-engine configuration the car only had a 2200 mm wheelbase and as a result was remarkably compact. Testing commenced late in 1960. Page 1 of 3 Next >>