Page 1 of 2 Next >> Smouldering under the surface for decades, the fight for control over sports car racing between the organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the ACO, and the Federation International de l'Automobile (FIA) once every few years heats up. A good example was the 1962 season when the FIA banned open top sports racing cars from the World Championship in favour of GT cars, which required a minimum production for homologation. The ACO would not have any of it and set up a class for experimental cars with a displacement of up to four litre. Aston Martin and Ferrari jumped at the opportunity and set out to design specific machines for the biggest race on the calendar. Maserati quickly followed suit and expanded their customer racing program.
Maserati's most recent exploits were with the front and mid-engined Birdcage sports cars with a multi-tubular spaceframe chassis. This combined a relatively light weight with high rigidity, but chief engineer Giulio Alfieri did not believe it would be up to the new task. Instead he reverted back to the traditional Italian chassis design consisting of two large tubular members to form a ladder frame. The new engine was derived from the V8 unit used in a variety of racing cars and the exclusive 5000 GT road car. Up until that point the smallest displacement was 4.2 litre, but by decreasing the bore with 2.8 mm a swept volume of just under four litres was attained. Breathing through four twin-choke Webers, the dry-sump engine produced a claimed 360 bhp.
While the chassis was conventional, the rear suspension certainly was not. It used an articulated DeDion type axle designed by GianPaolo Dallara, complete with extra struts on both sides, which allowed for additional lateral movement. This setup also lowered the unsprung weight. By comparison the front double wishbones were completely conventional. Power was transferred to the rear wheels by a five speed Colotti gearbox mounted in unit with the differential. In collaboration with the Milan University a very aggressive coupe body was designed with a Kamm-like cut-off rear end. The new V8-racer was dubbed the Tipo 151, but in retrospect this first version is often referred to as the 151/1 to distinguish it from later versions. Page 1 of 2 Next >>