The Ex-Bill Kimberly/Dr Dick Thompson/Augie Pabst, Briggs Cunningham Le Mans Team 1962 Maserati Tipo 151 Sports-Racing Berlinetta Chassis no. 151/006
The Italian Maserati marque holds a very special allure, having produced not only some of the most potent high-performance competition cars the sporting world has ever seen, but having done so within a remarkably intimate and friendly family atmosphere, the factory engineers and mechanics working in close personal relationship with their customers. This wider Maserati family triumphed or failed together, and even the grand failures of Il Tridente are commonly regarded today as having been fantastically charismatic, and highly collectible. Here we are delighted to present this V8-engined, 195mph Maserati which raced wheel-to-wheel at Le Mans with some of the classic car worlds most iconic and highly-valued contemporary motor racing legends; the 1962 24-Hours race-winning 4-litre Ferrari 330TRI/ LM Spider of Phil Hill/Olivier Gendebien, the similar-engined Ferrari 330GTO/LM Berlinetta and the unique Aston Martin Project 212 Coupé. Maseratis 4-cam V8-engined bazooka offered here is the sole complete survivor of just three of these mouth-wateringly muscular Maserati 151s which were tailor-made for two private entrants to contest the Le Mans Grand Prix dEndurance. The prototype Maserati 151 evenly-numbered chassis 151/002 was completed to the order of Paris-based American businessman Colonel Johnny Simones Maserati France distributorship. The follow- up twin-sister cars chassis 151/004 and 151/006 now offered here were supplied to American multi-millionaire sportsman Mr Briggs Cunningham for what would be his famous racing teams 13th quest for victory at Le Mans. Maserati had run a V8-engined Coupé-bodied car before at Le Mans, in 1957, when with encouragement from team driver Stirling Moss the Omer Orsi-run Modena concern had commissioned British aerodynamicist Frank Costin to create a slippery new body shape to be applied to a pre- existing model 450S sports-racing chassis. The body was built in great haste by the Zagato company of Milan, and at Le Mans it proved a great disappointment slower than its conventional open roadster- bodied 450S sister cars. The enclosed cockpit was also badly sealed against engine heat and fumes, and drivers Moss and Harry Schell were nearly asphyxiated in it before it finally broke a half-shaft and was withdrawn after just 38 racing laps. Maserati relied upon open-cockpit sports-prototype designs 1958-61, in which year the Commission Sportive International regulating body of the Federation International de lAutomobile (FIA) announced that from 1962 forward the endurance-racing World Championship title would be awarded for Grand Touring cars only, abandoning the traditional open-cockpit sports-prototype car. This decision which carried the further requirement that GT cars would be defined as models of which at least 100 had been built attracted little industry support. The organisers of the Le Mans 24- Hours classic by far the worlds most important road race at that time were equally unimpressed. While admitting GT cars to their 1962 race, they also launched a new Challenge Mondial de Vitesse et dEndurance (World Challenge for Speed and Endurance) to be run concurrently with the Sebring 12-Hours, Targa Florio, Nürburgring 1,000Kms and Le Mans 24-Hours rounds for the GT World Championship. This Challenge would be open to all cars entered in the GT, Prototype and Experimental categories with engine sizes between 700cc and 4-litres. In Modena, Maserati company head Omer Orsi and his 37-year old chief engineer Giulio Alfieri were keen to maintain their marques competition image to promote continuing sales of their Maserati 3500GT production supercar. Colonel Simone and Briggs Cunningham speedily placed orders for Experimental category cars for Le Mans 1962, and Alfieri immediately set about design of what emerged as the Maserati Tipo 151. He based its V8-cylinder engine upon the existing Maserati range of 4-cam road and racing designs. These engines had ranged from 4.2-litres (for Indianapolis and Monzanapolis use) to 6.5-litres for racing power boats. Reducing the 4.2-litre variants cylinder bore by 2.8mm from 93.8 to 91.0mm achieved 3999cc, to comply with the ACOs new capacity requirement. Alfieri predicted 350bhp-plus from this unit which he considered too much for his 1959-61 Birdcage type of multi- tubular trellis chassis construction. He reverted therefore to a strong and simple ladder-frame chassis with welded-on fine-gauge body- supporting tubes, and the Coupé or Berlinetta bodywork crafted from lightweight sheet aluminium. Development was slow by Maserati standards, and Col. Simones Maserati France team prototype was not run until April 9, 1962, on the Modena aerautodromo circuit, two days too late for the Le Mans Test Weekend in France. The 151s body shape had been developed with help from wind tunnel tests at Milan University, and employed an Alfa Romeo Sprint Speciale windscreen. Engine bore and stroke dimensions were 91mm x 75.8mm, and with induction via four twin-choke Weber 45IDM carburettors, the unit developed a claimed 360bhp at 7,000rpm. The engine was dry-sumped, but even so its height demanded a large clearance bulge in the centre of the bonnet lid. Twin-plug ignition featured distributor firing for one set of eight Lodge plugs, magneto for the other set. Valerio Colotti designed the five- speed constant-mesh gearbox which was mounted in unit with the ZF limited-slip final-drive. Maserati-made Girling-patent disc brakes were fitted all round, and 16-inch diameter Borrani wire wheels carried Dunlop Racing tyres. An experimental new de Dion rear suspension system was designed by Ing. Alfieris youthful assistant GianPaolo Dallara of subsequent Lamborghini and Dallara competition car fame. Progressive testing of the 151 prototype saw Maseratis veteran chief mechanic and test driver Guerrino Bertocchi achieving 305km/h 190mph on the public Autostrada and Lucien Bianchi 314km/h 195mph on track at Monza. The twin sister Maserati 151s for Briggs Cunninghams team were quickly completed, with slightly revised body contours, particularly around the roofline, and with higher door windows. These two cars liveried in American white with twin centreline blue stripes also had increased fuel tankage 134 litres compared to the prototypes 119. For the Le Mans 24-Hours on June 23-24, 1962, the Cunningham Maserati 151s were to be driven by Roy Salvadori/Dr Dick Thompson (chassis 151/006 offered here, complete with bright red nose-top band for easy identification) and by Bruce McLaren/Walt Hansgen (151/004). However, after trying 006 in practice, tall Salvadori confessed he simply didnt fit so he transferred to the Cunningham teams Jaguar E-Type entry, and intended Jaguar co-driver Bill Kimberly joined Thompson in 006 instead. The pace of these Experimental class Maseratis was demonstrated by McLaren/Hansgen setting fourth fastest time in the opening practice session, bettered only by three factory Ferraris, while in second practice Dick Thompson set third fastest time in 006 offered here. His time was bettered only by the ultimately winning 4-litre Ferrari prototype of Phil Hill and by the Ferrari 330GTO/LM driven by Michael Parkes. While the 4-litre GTO lapped Le Mans in 3mins 58.6secs, 006 achieved 3mins 59.1 just a half-second slower. Meanwhile, the red- liveried Maserati France prototype 151 was to be co-driven by Maurice Trintignant/Lucien Bianchi. These spectacular-looking, sensational-sounding Maserati 151s ran 3-4-5 in the opening race stages behind the finest that Ferrari and Aston Martin could offer. During the scheduled pit stops early that Saturday evening Dick Thompson actually led Le Mans in this very car, before holding second place behind Phil Hills 4-litre Ferrari. After four hours 006 lay third, but at the turn of the fifth hour Dick Thompson crashed mildly at Tertre Rouge immediately after a pit stop, due to improperly-installed fresh brake pads. The car toppled onto its side in the sand trap, then flopped back onto its wheels. Damage was minimal but one rear-mounted oil tank was displaced and, although the car remained driveable, regulations prevented its lost oil being replenished so soon after a pit stop so it had to be retired, though still raceworthy. Both sister cars 002 and 004 experienced tyre failures, and the Maserati France car was eventually retired with suspension failure after nine hours and 152 laps, while the McLaren/Hansgen Cunningham car climbed into fifth place before a mechanical failure ended their race at 6am Sunday morning. All three 151s were repaired in Modena post-race, and the two Cunningham cars then flown to New York, 006 making the trip on September 7. Its sister 004 contested the Road America 500 at Elkhart Lake two days later, co-driven by Hansgen/Augie Pabst. They held third place most of the way behind Jim Halls Chaparral and Harry Heuers Scarab.
On September 16, 006 ran in the Bridgehampton 400Kms on Long Island, Pabst setting fourth fastest practice time in this imposing car and running second behind Pedro Rodriguezs Le Mans-winning 4- litre Ferrari 330TRI/LM. Ultimately Pabst had an off-course excursion in which 006s engine ingested sand, and after 55 laps a piston failed. On October 14 the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix was run at Riverside, California, with both Cunningham team 151s competing. Car 006 was again entrusted to Augie Pabst.
While its sister 004 had been fitted with a 5.7-litre V8 power boat engine, 006 retained its 4-litre unit and on race day proved to be the faster Cunningham Maserati. Pabst finishing seventh. After this Riverside race, Briggs Cunningham offered this 4-litre 151 for sale and it was bought by San Francisco Buick dealer Bev Spencer.
On November 10, 1962, Spencer ran it at Vaca Valley Raceway for driver Stan Peterson, who started full of confidence having just won the Formula Junior event. He took the lead starting lap 2 and overturned 006 at the next corner, landing in soft mud which minimised body damage. Peterson repaired it in his Oakland speed shop, and ten days after Vacaville 006 starred looking immaculate in the San Francisco imported car show. In December it starred again in a press photo opportunity at Laguna Seca, driven by Peterson, before Bev Spencer advertised it for sale in the April 1963 issue of Road & Track, asking price $7,950. It was acquired by 31 year-old Chuck Jones of Santa Ana. In February 1963 Cunninghams retained 5.7-litre sister car was destroyed in a fiery accident at Daytona from which driver Marvin Panch was lucky to escape alive. This left 006 as the only Maserati 151 in America, and Chuck Jones entered it under his Team Meridian banner for driver Skip Hudson at Cotati where Hudson drove it with the doors removed finishing third. Jones then advertised it for sale in the July 27, 1963, edition of Competition Press, asking $8,250. In the absence of attractive offers the car was then driven solo by Hudson in the Road America 500 officially finishing 17th. Briggs Cunningham was so impressed by Hudsons effort he gave the team his remaining stock of Maserati 151 components, including three spare V8 engines, two gearboxes and the burned-out wreckage of 004 which was subsequently buried in a landfill site near Newport Beach.
In the Bridgehampton 500Kms, Hudson spun on his own oil from a leaking hose, damaged the right-front bodywork and retired since the engine had part-seized. Maserati 006 was not raced again. Jones instead converted it for road use, replacing the damaged 4-litre engine with a believed 4.2-litre unit from the Cunningham stock. He replaced the battered front bodywork with a new and more pointed- section clamshell opening panel, offering much improved access. Two large intake ducts were sunk into the nose-top. The sill fuel tanks were removed and a 35 US gallon tail tank fitted. Running with truck silencers 006 provided Chuck Jones with street-legal exotic motoring for the following two years. He sold the car in 1965 to Bob Reynaud of San Francisco in exchange for a new Lincoln Continental and $7,000 cash. The car, painted red and California- registered 311 MAF, later resided with a motor trader in San Jose. It was finally acquired in 1983 by renowned German collector and Maserati enthusiast Peter Kaus. He retained the Jones-originated one-piece opening nose but had it modified closer to its original shape, with the nose-top intakes sealed, and the entire body was resprayed in original Briggs Cunningham team colours together with the red nose-top band as at Le Mans 62. As offered here, the car is believed to retain the 4.2-litre engine fitted by Chuck Jones, and it was absolutely one of the stars of Mr Kauss magnificent Rosso Bianco Collection. In Mr Kauss ownership the car appeared in the Goodwood Festival of Speed, driven by British historic racing star Willie Green. It is today the only full surviving Maserati 151 of the three constructed; 004 having been destroyed at Daytona, while 002 was extensively modified before its chassis was destroyed at Le Mans in 1965. The removed 1962/63 body of 002 has survived, and is presently being restored upon a remade chassis frame. Here then is an extremely potent contemporary competitor to some of the most highly-prized of all great Ferraris and Aston Martins. It is effectively unique. It is extremely rare. It will surely command an entry at such renowned retro events as the Le Mans Classic and the Goodwood Revival Meeting and it is, above all, a V8-powered Maserati with genuine Le Mans, Bridgehampton and Road America racing provenance. Plus above all it has that unique cachet of having been built for, and campaigned by, the world-famous racing team master-minded by Mr Briggs Swift Cunningham. Estimate CHF 1,100,000 1,400,000