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A6GCS/53 Frua Spider
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  Maserati A6GCS/53 Frua Spider

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1953 - 1956
Numbers built:3
Designed by:Pietro Frua
Predecessor:Maserati A6G 2000 Frua Spider
Successor:Maserati A6G/54 2000 Frua Spider
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 24, 2010
Download: All images
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Click here to download printer friendly versionTowards the end of the 1940s Maserati tentatively started producing road cars for the first time. It was no coincidence that this break with tradition came shortly after the Maserati brothers had left the company. Named after its creator Alfieri Maserati and its six cylinder engine, the new range of Maseratis was dubbed the A6. In addition to the road going model, versions were also available for sports (A6GCS) and single seater (A6GCM) racing. All of the A6 road cars were built to custom order and finished off at one of Italy's many fine 'carrozzerias'. Some, however, were more custom than others and combined the competition chassis and engines with a luxurious body. Clothed by the likes of Frua and Pinin Farina, these A6s were usually commissioned by Maserati's dealer in Rome, Guglielmo Dei.

Apart from the obvious performance advantages, there was another reason, coach builders liked working with the A6GCS platform; thanks to the dry-sump lubrication of the engine, the rolling chassis was quite a bit lower than that of the 'standard' road car. Other than that there were few things that separated the two specifications. The chassis itself was a wholly conventional steel ladder frame with double wishbone and coil springs at the front and a live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs. Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers were used on all four corners, which also featured hydraulic drum brakes.

In its original guise the A6 engine displaced 1.5 litre, used a single camshaft and was cast in iron. For the competition cars, it quickly grew in size to two litre and by 1953 featured twin camshafts and an aluminium construction. Breathing through three Weber twin-choke carburettors, the competition engines produced in excess of 170 bhp. A year later a similar engine was also found its way to the 'A6G' road car line but in slightly milder, 150 bhp trim. Not all of the A6GCS based road cars featured the most potent version of the engine, combining the dry-sump bottom half of the engine with the milder road-car head.

Of Guglielmo Dei's A6GCS specials, the four cars clothed by Pinin Farina are the most famous. These featured exceptionally beautiful and also highly efficient 'Berlinetta' bodies and some of them were even raced. The current 'GranTurismo' road car is very much inspired by the four Pinin Farina Berlinettas. An additional three examples were sent to Pietro Frua, who also clothed many of the 'standard' production cars. He fitted the competition chassis with what is now referred to as the 'second series' Spider body even though all three were distinctly different. The first one featured the full competition engine while the later two originally used the slightly more civilised top-end. Unlike the Pinin Farina clothed examples, the three Frua Spiders were never raced.

The addition of the twin-plug, DOHC and all aluminium engine to the A6G production car effectively killed the demand for Guglielmo Dei's spectacular road going specials. The handful Maseratis that he had built do still stand as some of the finest and most desirable constructed in period. The four Pinin Farina Berlinettas remain as some of the most beautiful cars ever constructed. The importance of the slightly lesser known Frua Spiders is underlined by the fact that all three are part of premier collections. In 2010, the third car was awarded the prestigious Coppa d'Oro for the 'Best of Show by Public Referendum' in the prestigious Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este.

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