Maserati A6GCS 1954 by Fiandri & Malagoli
Chassis No.: 2078
Engine No.: 001 (see text)
During the racing doldrums of World War II, Ernesto Maserati conceived of a new sports racing car to be powered by a naturally aspirated 2-liter single overhead-cam inline six-cylinder engine. The model was to be named the A6G, with the A honoring his brother Alfieri, and the G denoting a relatively inexpensive cast-iron (ghisa) block.
The Maserati brothers had sold their eponymous company to the Orsi family in 1937, but Ernesto’s project survived with the A6 1500 assuming its mantle in road-car form, and the A6GCS and A6GCM respectively performing sports and grand prix racing duties. Despite the original plan, the engine was now made of aluminum, furnishing a promising basis for further tuning and development.
In 1952 the celebrated engineer Gioacchino Colombo was hired by Maserati and tasked with making the A6GCS a more consistent winner, as the company sought to sell the model to the discriminating Italian privateer market. Colombo overhauled the engine dimensions while integrating dual cam actuation, larger valves, and twin-plug ignition. He also discarded the first-series sports chassis in favor of the monoposto chassis, which was duly widened for two seats.
Almost comprehensively clothed with voluptuous barchetta coachwork designed by Fantuzzi, the resulting A6GCS/53 was produced in a smattering batch of 52 examples over the next two years. The model was very successful in competition, making a splash at the 1953 Targa Florio with 2nd and 3rd-place finishes, placing 2nd at the 12 Hours of Pescara, and winning several races flat out at circuits like Caserta, Avellino, and the Giro dell’ Umbria. In the process it was piloted by many of the era’s most famous drivers, including Juan Manuel Fangio, Roy Salvadori, and the Marquis de Portago.
Importantly, the A6GCS permitted a group of young Italian drivers, including Luigi Musso, Sergio Mantovani, Cesare Perdisa, and Maria Teresa de Filippis to burst onto the international racing scene, offering a stepping stone into Formula One. Musso’s success in particular with the A6GCS was formidable; he became the 1953 Italian champion in the 2-liter Sports Class, as well as the 1954 Italian champion in the International Sports Class, often driving the car offered here. Still admired for its nimble handling, torquey delivery, and friendly, easy-to-use nature, the A6GCS has evolved into one of today’s most desirable post-war sports racers.
CHASSIS NO. 2078: AN EARLY RACING LIFE
Claiming important early competition history and 21 years of dutiful care by the current caretaker, this Pebble Beach–awarded spyder is a breathtaking example of Maserati’s celebrated post-war racing car. Chassis no. 2078 is one of a handful of examples that were retained by the factory for Works competition, as a majority of the cars were actively sold to privateers. The A6GCS is approximately the 25th of 52 total examples built, and one of 41 barchettas bodied in a similar style by Fantuzzi and later Fiandri & Malagoli.
According to factory records provided by former Works engineer and factory archivist Ermanno Cozza, this Maserati was completed in March 1954, although it is not known when it began competing as a factory racer, as the manufacturer contested the FIA’s second season of the World Sportscar Championship. Chassis 2078 was driven in various races by Luigi Musso, a factory Grand Prix driver who had been campaigning for Maserati in the original monoposto A6GCM and the succeeding 250F.
In early April 1954, Musso’s season got off to a strong start. He placed 4th overall and 1st in Class at the Giro di Sicilia and nearly a month later roared to a 3rd-place finish at the Mille Miglia, scoring important points for Maserati, as the Mille Miglia was one of the six World Sportscar Championship rounds. An overall victory was claimed at the Grand Prix Napoli in mid-May and was followed by a 2nd overall finish and class win at the Targa Florio in late May.
Cozza, speaking for the factory, attributed the above listed race results to 2078 in correspondence with the consignor dating to 1998. More recently, as is often the case with racing cars, there has been conjecture among historians regarding which exact chassis was driven in each race. The Mille Miglia Historical Archive was unable to confirm the chassis number of the car driven by Musso in 1954 when recently queried. Variations in specific car details evidenced in the photographic record have led to the belief that Musso drove two Works cars during 1954, and that 2078 was most likely not pressed into service until the latter half of the 1954 season. In an effort to fully document the early-period race history, an extensive historical research report has been prepared by Maserati historian Adolfo Orsi and is available for review.
Orsi’s research indicates that 2078’s probable first competition appearance was the grueling 10 Hours of Messina in July 1954, where brothers Luigi and Giuseppe Musso shared the car. A class win at the Giro Calabria followed, and a 1st in Class finish at the challenging Circuit of Senigallia in August must have been satisfying. With Musso at the wheel again, 2078 triumphed over the Scuderia Ferrari’s own 500 Mondial.
In September 1954, chassis 2078 would represent the Officine Alfieri Maserati at the RAC Tourist Trophy held at Dundrod, one of the 1954 World Sportscar Championship rounds. Importantly, Luigi Musso and Sergio Mantovani would finish 5th overall and 1st in the Sports 2000 Class, battling other drivers such as Fangio, Taruffi, and Hawthorn. This impressive finish earned Maserati a crucial two championship points that would ultimately put the Trident above Porsche in that year’s final championship standings.
A week later 2078 is thought to have appeared for the final time as a Works car, piloted by Cesare Perdisa at the Bologna-Passo della Raticosa hill climb. In a remarkable drive, Perdisa won his class and finished 2nd overall, a mere five seconds behind Eugenio Castellotti’s Works Lancia D25 after a 25-minute hill climb!
RACING IN ARGENTINA
Winnowing its 1954 stable, Maserati sold 2078 in February 1955 to Ricardo Grandio of Argentina, who resumed the car’s racing career in his native country. The A6GCS ran the Buenos Aires 1000 KM three times, winning its class and finishing 3rd overall in early 1955. Under the banner of the Equipo Presidente Peron, 2078 once again made a strong contribution of points to Maserati’s World Sportscar Championship bid, as the Buenos Aires race was the first round of the 1955 championship season.
The next three years saw less successful results, as the Maserati managed 3rd-place finishes at the Autodromo di Buenos Aires in April 1955, the Kilometro Lanzado—Autopista Ezeiza in December 1955, and the 500 Millas de Rafaela in June 1956.
Following its participation in the 1958 Buenos Aires 1000 KM, the A6GCS was sold to Alberto Gomez, a local garage proprietor known as “the Wizard of Ugarteche.” It is understood that ownership passed to his close friend, Enzo Tasco, known locally as “Postman.” In conversation with Enzo’s son Emilio Tasco, he related his father’s recollection that 2078 was acquired without an engine, and that his father found an original A6GCS engine “in a boat” and proceeded to acquire and install it. Several notations in period publications reference Tasco “Postman” Gomez and the Maserati in races from 1964 to 1967. Around this time, 2078 suffered front-end damage during practice at the Autodromo, and the car was subsequently sold to Guillermo Vago. He in turn sold the Maserati to Jorge Macome, who conducted a costly restoration and then drove the spyder in local street races. The car was pictured on the front cover of the February 1970 issue of Parabrisas Corsa, and five more photos accompanied a general article on the model.
By late 1972 Macome sold the A6GCS back to Vago, who, a few years later, resold the car to Lucio Bollaert, an Argentine racing driver who had competed against 2078 in the 1955 Buenos Aires 1000 KM while driving a Gordini T15S. Mr. Bollaert offered the Maserati for sale around 1983, with the old engine disassembled but complete, as confirmed by an inspection by marque expert Richard Crump.
In 1984 the A6GCS was purchased from Bollaert by Paolo Dabbeni, an architect from Brescia. After returning the Maserati to Italy, Dabbeni attempted the 1986 Mille Miglia, but a mechanical failure in Ferrara forced an early retirement. By early 1987 the spyder was acquired by the Ferrara-based industrialist Gianni Vitali, and he ran the A6GCS for six consecutive years in the Mille Miglia from 1987 to 1992 and once more in 1995. During this ownership period, 2078 was featured in a 1993 article in Ruoteclassiche magazine and received a FIVA identity card in 1996.
In February 1998 the Maserati was sold by Vitali to the consignor, a respected American collector and vintage racer. Mr. Vitali is understood to have retained the Italian registration and title, and after the original car had left Italy for its new home in the U.S., in 1999 he reportedly hired craftsmen in Italy to construct a replica of 2078, which exists today in Italy.
Upon acquisition by the current owner, 2078 began a new chapter touring and racing in events through 2012, running the Monterey Historics five times, the Wine Country Classic three times, the Colorado Grand twice, and the Mille Miglia once, among many other events. In support of these outings, the Maserati received mechanical attention from Thomas Vintage Motors in Boulder, Colorado, from 1998 to 2000 (including the addition of a roll bar and a fuel bladder), and from the Intrepid Motorcar Company of Sparks, Nevada (including work to the radiator, magneto, brake drums, sway bars, gearbox, clutch, and wheel spokes).
In an effort to facilitate the continued use of A6GCS in vintage competition, the consignor approached other A6GCS owners and then engaged the respected Crosthwaite & Gardiner to produce a limited run of reproduction A6GCS engines using the old engine from 2078 as a template. Today 2078 is powered by one of these Crosthwaite & Gardiner units, which is numbered 001. In addition, it is offered together with an original A6GCS engine numbered 2078 (see below), which Crosthwaite & Gardner used as a template to produce the new engines, as well as another earlier reproduction engine thought to be of Italian origin.
The old engine accompanies the car on a stand. This engine is stamped “2078,” though it is thought that the number stampings are not in the factory style. Another engine stamped “2078” is also known to exist in Switzerland. It is likely that the original A6GCS engine accompanying chassis no. 2078 is the one that was reportedly found “in a boat” in South America by Enzo Tasco in the 1960s.
Most interestingly, this engine carries stampings of the type made by the CSAI (Commissione Sportiva Automobilistica Italiana) during inspection prior to participation at the Le Mans 24 Hours. The CSAI is the branch of the ACI (Automobile Club d’Italia) that follows motorsport; prior to Le Mans, a CSAI technical scrutineer would visit the manufacturers to verify the capacity of the engines in order to avoid any unforeseen issues during scrutineering at Le Mans. These stampings raise the intriguing possibility that chassis no. 2078 may have been one of the two cars that were entered by the factory for the 24-hour race in June 1954 but which (because of a transporter problem en route) arrived too late to participate in the race. If that were so, this old engine may indeed be the original unit for 2078.
More recently, in 2013 the owner conducted a significant restoration of 2078 that included a proper repair of the previously damaged front end with corrected new aluminum nose work by metalworker Alan Mathers and a bare-metal repaint. J&L Fabricating rebuilt the gearbox, and Intrepid Racing restored or correctly replaced other items as necessary, completing a comprehensive refurbishment. On the heels of this work, the magnificent Maserati was presented at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, winning the Gran Turismo Award for the best racing car. Consequently, the spyder was honored by Sony Entertainment as its choice to represent the A6GCS model in the popular Gran Turismo video game, undergoing a series of digitally administered laser scans and measurements for precise replication for a future generation of computer-gaming racers.
This impressive Works Maserati should expect a warm welcome at major concours or vintage racing events around the world. The breathtaking spyder is documented with a comprehensive report by marque historian Adolfo Orsi, a large file of period photographs, correspondence from Maserati S.p.A archivist Ermanno Cozza, and much more. A fine and highly eligible choice for almost any world-class motoring event one might want to enter, this A6GCS is one of the most recognizable and successful sports racers of the 1950s.
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