One of the most evocative names in the history of motor sport, Maserati devoted itself exclusively to racing prior to WW2, only turning to the manufacture of road cars in the late 1940s with the introduction of the A6 1500.
Società Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati was founded in Bologna in December 1914 by Alfieri Maserati together with his brothers Ettore and Ernesto, the fledgling company specialising in the preparation and tuning of Isotta Fraschinis for road racing. In the early 1920s a successful collaboration with Diatto led to Alfieri designing his first Grand Prix car, powered by a 2.0-litre, supercharged, twin-overhead-camshaft, straight-eight engine. When Diatto folded, this design formed the basis of the first Maserati car, the Tipo 26 of 1926. The Maserati's debut was a successful one, Alfieri winning his class in that year's Targa Florio, a race dominated by Bugatti.
Maserati enjoyed outstanding success in European voiturette racing throughout the 1930s but its most remarkable result was achieved across the Atlantic: Wilbur Shaw winning the Indianapolis 500 at the wheel of a Tipo 8CTF in 1939, a feat he repeated the following year. By this time however, the surviving Maserati brothers had sold the firm to industrialist Adolfo Orsi, who relocated the company to nearby Modena.
When post-war production resumed in 1947, as well as continuing in its traditional role as builder of Grand Prix cars, Maserati commenced the manufacture of sports-racing and road cars. Its first true road-going model - the A6 1500 - made its sensational public debut at the 1947 Geneva Salon, where the Pinin Farina-bodied coupé
was well received by both press and public. The A6 1500's engine was a 1,488cc single-overhead-camshaft six, similar to the A6GCS sports car's 2.0-litre unit, and produced its maximum output of 65bhp at 4,700rpm. Its chassis was of the ladder frame type, the double-wishbone front suspension was derived from racing practice and coil springs suspended the live rear axle. Top speed, depending on coachwork, was in the region of 90-95mph. Of the 61 cars built between 1947 and 1950, most were bodied as coupés by Pinin Farina. Chassis number '052' though, wears typically stylish coachwork by Carrozzeria Zagato.
One of the oldest and most respected of automotive design firms, Zagato was founded in Milan in 1919 by Ugo Zagato, who used techniques learned in the wartime aeronautics industry to create a series of lightweight competition cars. Alfa Romeo immediately realised the potential of Zagato's designs and thus commenced a fruitful collaboration that lasts to this day. Legendary racing models such as Alfa's 1500, 1750 Gran Sport and 2300 8C were followed by luxurious coupés and roadsters on FIAT and Lancia chassis.
After WW2 Zagato was quick to exploit the popularity of the new GT racing category, supplying factory teams and catering for the growing privateer scene with road-able cars that nevertheless could be driven competitively on the racetrack come the weekend. Zagato's own history records that, 'avante garde styling, together with light weight and wind-cheating lines were a trademark that distinguished Zagato's cars of that era - Maserati, Alfa Romeo, FIAT, Lancia, Abarth, Ferrari and Aston Martin.'
We are advised that chassis number '052' was extensively tested by the factory on the roads around Modena between October 1945 and September 1946. '052' is the second A6 1500, the numbering sequence having commenced with '051'. However, the latter had previously been classified as a Tipo 6CS/46, so arguably '052' is the first of the true A6 1500s. In its original form, the car was fitted with a Maserati-built barchetta body, pictures of which are on file together with dynamometer sheets recording tests carried out by the factory on the special racing engine, number '052', which features individually water-cooled cylinders. In 1948 Maserati sent the rolling chassis to Carrozzeria Zagato, where it was re-bodied with two-seater 'Panoramica'-style coupé coachwork in aluminium. This was the first such co-operation between Maserati and Zagato, making this car of even greater historical significance.
In 1919, Ugo Zagato founded his carrozzeria bringing his expertise in aviation to what, at the time, was a new automotive sector.
In the ‘20s, the lightweight, aircraft-inspired Zagato bodyworks imposed themselves leaders in competition.
The innovative spirit of Zagato characterized the pioneering era of automobiles. Even during the Second World War, fleeing from the fury of conflict, Ugo Zagato continued his studies on aerodynamics.
In the late ‘40s, this focus created a new form called Panoramica, which was inspired by aircraft cockpits and influenced the innovative use of Plexiglas to model state-of-the-art glass surfaces for maximum visibility.
The Maserati A6 1500 was one of the first examples of this new experimental body: a breakthrough design and revolutionary form in every component that was also united by an innate and elegant class. So unique, only the classic Maserati front grill permitted this car recognition as a model of the Tridente.