The Ex-Walt Hansgen/Augie Pabst and Bruce McLaren 1961 Maserati Maserati Tipo 63 Sports Racing-Prototype Chassis no. 63.010
This most attractively presented four-cylinder engined sports- prototype began life as nothing less than the most successful in terms of race wins - of all the rear-engined Birdcage cars built by Maserati between 1961 and 1965. It is the second long-wheelbase Tipo 63 built and the second to have been delivered to American millionaire sportsman Briggs S. Cunninghams world-famous racing team. It was in his blue-striped white national colours that this chassis won the 1961 SCCA National event at Bridgehampton, Long Island, and then the Road America 500-Miles classic at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, driven on both occasions by the great veteran American road racing star, Walt Hansgen. After its Cunningham team career it was returned to the Modena factory where it was consigned to long-term storage before being acquired as a rolling chassis in June 1965 by Californian-in-Modena, Tom Meade. He paid a reputed $850 for the engineless car, which appears to have been renumbered at that time as 63.021. It is understood from the researches of Maserati historian Willem Oosthoek that, as recorded in his superb book Maserati Tipo 63-64-65 Birdcage to Supercage (Dalton Watson, 2004), Either Meade or the next owner, Brussels car dealer Léon Barbie, installed a 351 CID (5.7-litre) Ford V8 engine, a ZF gearbox and a conventional dashboard, this last feature making the car easy to identify. Léon Barbie found a buyer for the Maserati-Ford in Armand Blaton who displayed it at the 1965 Brussels Salon de LAutomobile. Blaton subsequently advertised the car for sale in the May 1968 issue of Road & Track magazine in which it was misidentified as one of the Camoradi team cars which had been operated early in 1961 by Lloyd Lucky Casner. The car was priced at $7,000 and it was bought by German collector Peter Kaus, who commissioned the Docking Spitzley racing team in England to restore it for him. The Alan Docking/Matt Spitzley team campaigned Formula 2 cars at the time and had been seeking a winter project to enable them to keep their mechanic team employed between seasons. The work was completed to Peter Kauss requirements, and the present 2.4-litre four-cylinder Maserati engine from a power boat was installed, driving via a Maserati five-speed transaxle. The marine engine had been restored and prepared for automotive use by highly respected Aston Martin specialist engineer Rex Woodgate. It was claimed to produce some 215bhp. In fact in its original condition this chassis was powered by a 3-litre Maserati V12-cylinder racing engine, and that particular power unit serial 63.010 is believed to survive to this day. If we now trace the background history of chassis 63.010 offered here, it was first completed by the Maserati factory in June 1961. It emerged at that time as a long-nosed, long-wheelbase Tipo 63 with toughened glass windscreen, V12 engine and what have become known as gun turret exhausts, from the manner in which its four separate exhaust tailpipes emerged via slots in the cars shapely rear fender sections. The first of the new rear-engined Birdcage Maseratis had made its debut on test at Modena on December 15, 1960. It was powered by a 2.8-litre four-cylinder engine, although Ing. Giulio Alfieris original Tipo 63 design had called for a new 2,930cc V8 power unit. Budgetary restrictions dictated, however, that as many components for the rear-engined car as possible should be drawn from the existing Tipo 60/61 front-engined Birdcage parts store, and the V8 project was shelved. The first three Maserati 63s were then completed during March 1961, respectively, for Briggs Cunningham, for Count Giovanni Volpis Scuderia Serenissima and for Lucky Casners Camoradi team. They used even-numbered chassis serials, 63.002-63.006. The American-owned cars competed in the Sebring 12-Hours race, while the Volpi car made its debut later in the Sicilian Targa Florio. Masten Gregory led at Sebring in the Camoradi Maserati 63 which later retired with rear suspension failure, while Walt Hansgen/Bruce McLaren in the Cunningham car survived six hours before a cracked transaxle casing leaked all the oil away, and the transmission seized. Criticism from the new owners of the four-cylinder model led Ing. Alfieri to consider replacing it with the smoother-running 3-litre V12 engine, several of which were available at Modena, derived from the 1957 2.5-litre Formula 1 unit installed in 250F chassis. A prototype 3-litre Maserati 63 with 3-litre V12 engine installed was hastily completed in time for the Le Mans Test Weekend of April 8-9. Giorgio Scarlatti lapped in it faster than any of its four-cylinder sisters. His best time of 4mins 3.3secs was fourth fastest overall, bettered only by the front-engined Ferrari 250TRI/61s of Phil Hill and Taffy von Trips and the works V6-engined Ferrari Dino 246SP of Richie Ginther. Where Ferrari had dared only to mount a V6- cylinder engine behind the driver in their posteriore-powered prototype, Maserati had made the leap and had mounted a 3-litre V12 there two years before Ferrari would dare introduce their similarly-configured 250P design.
While the four-cylinder cars were used in the twisty-circuit Targa Florio and Nürburgring 1,000Km classics, Alfieri initiated a crash programme to upgrade the Tipo 63s to the 3-litre V12 engine for Le Mans. Two V12-powered cars were prepared for Briggs Cunningham, the re-engined short-wheelbase chassis 63.002 and the car now offered here long-wheelbase chassis 63.010 brand-new.
It appeared at Le Mans for the 24-Hours race on June 10-11, 1961, wearing race number 6, to be co-driven by New Zealand-born Formula 1 Cooper star Bruce McLaren and Cunninghams former United States Road Racing Champion Walt Hansgen. In practice McLaren/Hansgen set third fastest lap time of 4mins 3.8secs, bettered only by the Ginther/von Trips Ferrari Dino 246SP and the Rodriguez brothers Ferrari 250TRI/61. Walt Hansgen ran third in the opening stages of the long race, and lay fourth in the early evening when rain began to fall. In those conditions he began to gain rapidly on the Ferraris ahead but on his 32nd lap at 6.30pm he slithered off into the sandbanks at Tertre Rouge corner, crushing the cars nose and bursting its twin oil tanks. Hansgen attributed his accident to leaking oil smearing the windscreen which hampered his vision and eventually coating his front tyres which sent him off into the sandbank. The sister Cunningham Maserati V12 co-driven by Augie Pabst/ Dick Thompson, ran sixth after five hours, and despite lengthy pit- stops to change spark plugs finally finished fourth overall. The Serenissima Tipo 63 of Vaccarella/Scarfiotti overheated into retirement after 53 laps, a head seal having failed.
Walt Hansgen was officially clocked at 260km/h, 162.5mph, through the speed trap on the Mulsanne Straight, though it was by common consent sited in the wrong place Hansgen seeing 270km/h 168.7mph beyond it. Meanwhile the short-wheelbase Tipo 63s into which the V12 engines had been shoe-horned were criticised by their drivers for being too cramped and uncomfortable. Consequently Briggs Cunningham returned his SWB car to the factory and had a long-wheelbase replacement produced, which inherited the original cars chassis serial. This LWB chassis offered here was in contrast considered acceptable and was retained unchanged. Willem Oosthoeks researches indicate that the cars chassis may have been renumbered 63.011 during its post-Le Mans rebuild, before being shipped back to Cunningham in New York with conventional exhausts fitted in place of the gun turret devices. On August 16, 1961, the car was then driven by Walt Hansgen in the SCCA Bridgehampton National event, in which as race number 60 the veteran fought a terrific duel with Roger Penskes front- engined Birdcage Maserati Tipo 61, beating it into second place by less than a second, and again tripping the main-straight speed- trap at over 160mph. On September 10, the 5th Road America 500 at Elkhart Lake saw Walt Hansgen and Augie Pabst co-driving 63.010 offered here, under race number 61 with a low-cut perspex windshield fitted. Pabst was able to take the car into the lead and by the time he handed over to Hansgen after 85 laps the Maserati held a whole lap advantage. Hansgen rejoined with a 43 second lead over Penske, eventually taking the chequered flag after 125 laps and 6hrs 5mins racing. This Alfred Momo-prepared Cunningham Maserati Tipo 63 had displayed outstanding speed and reliability in face of strong opposition. On October 15 it was then driven by Augie Pabst in the Riverside Consolation event, failing to finish due to a fire. During practice at the Californian desert circuit its original 2,989cc V12 engine had failed, and had been replaced for the Consolation race by the 2,985cc short-stroke unit taken from the teams sister long-wheelbase chassis 63.002. It was after this event that the car was returned by Cunningham to the Italian factory in November 1961.
Here we offer this most historic rear-engined Birdcage Maserati eligible to compete in all manner of current Historic events with its four-cylinder engine ready installed but equally poised to be reunited by some kind new owner with the type of 3-litre V12-cylinder engine used in its heyday. Cunningham team Maseratis very rarely come to public auction, and here we are delighted to offer the most successful of the rear-engined breed. Estimate: CHF 650,000 950,000