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  Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1959 - 1960
Numbers built:16
Designed by:Giulio Alfieri
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:January 05, 2015
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Click here to download printer friendly versionThe compact and very low Maserati Birdcage tipped the scales at just 570 kg in Tipo 60 form or 600 kg when fitted with the 2.8-litre engine. The first car was ready in May of 1959 and entrusted to Stirling Moss for testing. The chassis proved to be very rigid, so much so that the welds could not bear the loads. After Alfieri had noticed cracks in the welds, he swapped the high quality chrome steel for cheaper steel. This cured the problems, while the rigidity was hardly compromised.

Equipped with a two-litre engine, the prototype Birdcage scored a debut victory at Rouen in the hands of Stirling Moss. This success had not gone unnoticed and for the 1960 season, the orders quickly piled up. The single biggest customer was Lloyd 'Lucky' Casner's Camoradi team, who eventually bought no fewer than five Birdcages. Particularly popular in the United States, other customers included the likes of Briggs Cunningham and Jim Hall.

Down on power compared to the largest engined rivals, the Maserati Birdcage excelled on tighter tracks where its superior handling could be used to great effect. This was underlined by its back-to-back victories in the 1960 and 1961 Nürburgring 1000 km. It is also the reason why it was so popular and successful in the United States. Among the many successful Birdcage racers were Jim Hall, Carroll Shelby, Walt Hansgen, Dan Gurney, Masten Gregory and of course Stirling Moss.

In 1961, Maserati introduced the Tipo 63, which retained the spaceframe chassis but now with the engine behind the cockpit. Although believed to be a step forward, adopting a mid-engined layout actually disturbed the perfect weight distribution that had made the Tipo 60 and Tipo 61 so revered. By that time, 22 examples of the original Birdcage had been produced. Accepted as one of the if not the best handling front-engined sports car, the Tipo 60 and Tipo 61 Maseratis are today very highly sought after.

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  Article Image gallery (261) Chassis (12) Specifications User Comments (3)