The Maserati Tipo 61
Sports car racing is a form of circuit auto racing with automobiles that have two seats and enclosed wheels. They may be purpose-built or related to road-going sports cars....
racing cars of the early 1960s. The car was produced between 1959 and 1961 by Maserati
Maserati is an Italian luxury car manufacturer established on December 1, 1914, in Bologna. The company's headquarters is now in Modena, and its emblem is a trident. It has been owned by the Italian car giant Fiat S.p.A. since 1993...
for racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's oldest sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since near the town of Le Mans, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency, race teams have to balance speed against the cars' ability to run for 24 hours without sustaining...
endurance classic. It used an intricate tubular space frame
A space frame or space structure is a truss-like, lightweight rigid structure constructed from interlocking struts in a geometric pattern. Space frames can be used to span large areas with few interior supports...
A chassis consists of an internal framework that supports a man-made object. It is analogous to an animal's skeleton. An example of a chassis is the underpart of a motor vehicle, consisting of the frame with the wheels and machinery.- Vehicles :In the case of vehicles, the term chassis means the...
, containing about 200 chro
Chromium is a chemical element which has the symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It is the first element in Group 6. It is a steely-gray, lustrous, hard metal that takes a high polish and has a high melting point. It is also odorless, tasteless, and malleable...
Molybdenum , is a Group 6 chemical element with the symbol Mo and atomic number 42. The name is from Neo-Latin Molybdaenum, from Ancient Greek , meaning lead, itself proposed as a loanword from Anatolian Luvian and Lydian languages, since its ores were confused with lead ores...
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...
tubes welded together, hence the nickname "Birdcage". This method of construction provided a more rigid and, at the same time, lighter chassis than other sports cars of the time.
By recessing the windscreen base into the bodywork, Maserati was able to reduce the effect of new Le Mans rules demanding a tall windscreen.
The Camoradi team became famous racing the Tipo 61's but, despite being very competitive, the Birdcage was somewhat unreliable and occasionally retired from races due to problems with the drivetrain.
A modern car - the Maserati MC12
The Maserati MC12 is a two-seater sports car produced by Italian car maker Maserati to allow a racing variant to compete in the FIA GT Championship. The car entered production in 2004 with 30 cars produced...
is available only in white and blue to serve as a tribute to the Tipo 61 and the Camoradi racing team.
The Tipo 61 was unveiled in 1959 when Stirling Moss
Sir Stirling Craufurd Moss, OBE FIE is a former racing driver from England...
won its first race, attracting the attention of Lloyd "Lucky" Casner
Lloyd Perry Casner was the creator of the Casner Motor Racing Division team....
. Casner founded the Casner Motor Racing Division
Casner Motor Racing Division – also known as America Camoradi , Camoradi USA or Camoradi International – was a racing team of the 1960s known for racing Maserati Birdcage sports cars, and a Porsche and Cooper in Formula One...
who raced three Tipo 61's in the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans
The 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 28th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place over June 25–26, 1960. It was also the fifth and final round of the World Sportscar Championship.-Official results:-Not Classified:...
. The Tipos never won Le Mans due to reliability issues, however in both 1960 and 1961 the Camoradi team won the 1000 km Nürburgring.
The Birdcage series
The Tipo 61 was the most well known model but Giulio Alfieri
Giulio Alfieri was an Italian automobile engineer, affiliated with Maserati in Modena, Italy since 1953, where he was central to the development of racing and production cars in the 1950s and 1960s.Alfieri was born in Parma...
designed 5 different models, all based on an intricate multi-tubular frame concept. This multi-tubular construction produced a light weight and rigid chassis that was a significant competitive advantage for a racing car. All models included independent front suspension, 4 wheel disc brakes and 5 speed transmission. A De Dion type rear axle was used on the Tipo 60 and 61.
featured a small 2 liter 4 cylinder engine of 200 hp, located in the front and tilted over at a 45° angle for a lower center of gravity. The weight was 570 kg (1,257 lb) and the car had at a maximum speed of 270 km/h (168 mph).
featured a 2.9 liter 4 cylinder engine of 250 hp, located in the front at a 45° angle for a weight of 600 kg (1,323 lb) pushing the car at a speed of 285 km/h (177 mph).
The mid-engined Birdcage cars
began with the Tipo 63. Maserati now changed to a mid-engine configuration using a similar multi-tubular chassis construction. The rear suspension was changed to an independent double wishbone configuration.
The Tipo 63 through 65 cars have been described as a "historian's nightmare". Maserati was in difficult financial circumstances and Guilio Alfieri was trying to build a competitive car on a low budget. He would retrieve various engines from the Maserati parts bins. Then, he had them modified and installed in the ten various chassis that were constructed. The Tipo 63 was raced with four cylinder and twelve cylinder engines and the chassis was radically redesigned when the first version proved less competitive than the Tipo 61.
The definitive reference for this complex and confusing era is the book: "Maserati Tipo 63, 64, 65: Birdcage to Supercage" written by Willem Oosthoek.
first used a 4 cylinder engine similar to the Tipo 61 and later a V12 engine from the Formula One 1957 Maserati 250F.
featured the same 3 liter V12 as the Tipo 63 with an upgraded frame (many smaller light alloy tubes) - nicknamed "Supercage".
featured a V8 engine of 5 liters delivering about 430 hp pushing the car at 350 km/h (217 mph). Only one car was built using a modified Tipo 63 chassis.
The Maserati Birdcage 75th is a concept car to honor both the Birdcage and the 75th anniversary of Pininfarina
Pininfarina S.p.A. is an Italian car design firm and coachbuilder in Cambiano, Italy.Founded as Società anonima Carrozzeria Pinin Farina in 1930 by automobile designer and builder Battista "Pinin" Farina, Pininfarina has been employed by a wide variety of high-end automobile manufacturers,...
. It features a 700 bhp V12
A V12 engine is a V engine with 12 cylinders mounted on the crankcase in two banks of six cylinders, usually but not always at a 60° angle to each other, with all 12 pistons driving a common crankshaft....