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  Maserati 8CM
 

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1933 - 1935
Numbers built:19
Successor:Maserati V8RI
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:February 06, 2006
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Click here to download printer friendly versionOf the Maserati brothers Alfieri Maserati was the most gifted engineer and his sudden death in the spring of 1932 was a big blow for the young company. Much of the development work came to an abrupt halt, but fortunately Alfieri had completed the design of two new engines that would ensure competitiveness in racing for the foreseeable future. The two twin-cam units were very similar in design with the number of cylinders the main difference. In four cylinder, 1.5 litre it was ideally suited for the voiturette series and with twice the cylinders and displacement it could power a full size Grand Prix racer.

The advanced new engines were fitted in a very conventional steel ladder frame, which was suspended all-round by solid axles and semi-elliptic leaf springs. This was sufficient for the four cylinder engine, but the power of the eight cylinder engine and large hydraulically actuated drum brakes caused the chassis to flex. Dubbed the 8CM, it was not received very well because of this lack of rigidity. It took Tazio Nuvolari to solve most of the problems and turn the 8CM into a race winner.

The legendary racer had problems with his employer, Alfa Romeo's official racing team Scuderia Ferrari, and was on the lookout for a new drive for the 1933 Belgian Grand Prix. One of the 8CM's first owners, Giuseppe Campari, was more than willing to offer the 'Flying Mantuan' his flexible ride. Nuvolari already had some experience with a similar Maserati and quickly set out to increase the rigidity with a number of cross-members. He arrived on the track just in time for the race, but forced to start at the back of the grid. The modifications made a night and day difference and the always charging Nuvolari took the lead on the first lap. He went on to win the race; not the last of that season.

Maserati were quick to make similar changes to the design for the 1934 cars. Although the additional cross-members increased the weight, the added rigidity more than made up for those extra pounds. The 1934 8CM initially weighed in well over the new minimum weight of 750 kg set for that season, but a strict diet brought the racer down to the minimum set without having to scrape the paint down to the bare metal. It proved to be insufficient to take on the Alfa Romeo, Mercedes and Auto Union teams, but the car's availability made it a popular choice for privateer racers. A further stripped down chassis was constructed in 1935 for a successful speed record run down the Autostrada.

In the following years Maserati would continue to produce racing cars for top level Grand Prix racing, but the well funded competition proved to be too strong to bring back the successes scored with the 8CM. Ventures in the highly popular Voiturette series with a variety of four and six cylinder engined cars were more successful; both on the track and commercially.

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  Article Image gallery (26) Specifications