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  Maserati 6C 34      

  Article Image gallery (23) Chassis (3) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1934
Numbers built:5
Predecessor:Maserati 8CM
Successor:Maserati V8RI
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:July 31, 2015
Download: All images
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Click here to download printer friendly versionFrom the 1934 season onwards Grand Prix cars were restricted by a maximum weight of 750 kg. With minor adjustments, Maserati existing 8CM was still eligible. Ernesto Maserati, however, believed that a more powerful engine than the three-litre, straight eight of the 8CM was needed to remain competitive. With weight a major concern, Maserati broke with convention and created an all-new straight six engine, which allowed for a larger displacement than a 'four', yet required less components than an 'eight'.

Even though it was Maserati's first six cylinder engine, it did share components with the straight four developed during the 1933 season. The blocks were cast in pairs, so it was relatively straight forward to develop the straight six from the existing design. To allow for a high compression ratio, the cylinder block and head were cast in one piece. The three pairs were mounted on a lightweight crankcase made of the magnesium alloy elektron.

Derived from the 2.5-litre 4C 2500 engine, the new straight six displaced just over 3.3 litres, which was soon after increased to 3.7 litres. The engine itself featured a twin overhead camshaft and two valves per cylinder. Mounted in front of the engine was a sizeable Roots-type supercharger, which helped boost the power to 270 bhp. The new 'six' was mated to a four-speed gearbox. Maserati's emphasis was on the development of the engine and the first unit was mounted in an existing 8CM chassis.

With his 8CM updated to 6C 34 guise, the new six-cylinder engine debuted at the 1934 Italian Grand Prix in September. The car proved more powerful but also more difficult to drive than the existing 8CM. Faced with strong opposition from the mighty German teams, Nuvolari managed to salvage a fifth place finish. Later in the year, Maserati completed the first complete 6C 34. This works car was successful only in minor events at Modena and Naples during the remainder of the 1934 season.

Maserati built four more 6C 34s and also supplied one engine for a customer, who already had an 8CM. Success was very limited, with the car particularly hampered by the conventional chassis, whereas the rivals were running independent front (and rear) suspension. One was even raced by Achille Varzi in the Mille Miglia, complete with cycle fenders, but it failed to reach the finish.

Maserati did not pursue this avenue any further as the attention switched to the new V8RI, which featured a new V8 engine and an independently sprung chassis. Despite the disappointing results of the 6C 34, Maserati would eventually produce a wide range of six-cylinder engined road and racing cars.

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  Article Image gallery (23) Chassis (3) Specifications