The Ex-Maserati France, Jo Siffert/Jochen Neerpasch, Le Mans ,1965 Maserati Tipo 65 Sports-Racing Prototype  65.002
Lot 214
The Ex-Maserati France, Jo Siffert/Jochen Neerpasch, Le Mans ,1965 Maserati Tipo 65 Sports-Racing Prototype 65.002
Sold for CHF 932,843 (US$ 1,021,667) inc. premium
Lot Details
The Ex-Maserati France, Jo Siffert/Jochen Neerpasch, Le Mans
1965 Maserati Tipo 65 Sports-Racing Prototype
Chassis no. 65.002


  • This remarkably imposing V8 rear-engined sports-prototype is the last
    of the long line of Maserati competition cars built during the Gruppo
    Orsi empire’s long ownership of the Italian marque. As such it marks
    the high tide of their development right through the wide range of
    A6GCS, 150, 200, 250, 300, 350 and 450S sports-racing classics,
    through the famous ‘Birdcage’ Tipo 60-64 models and the big V8-
    powered 151 Berlinetta designs of 1962-65.
    The fatal accident to Maserati France driver ‘Lucky’ Casner in the
    ultimate Maserati 151/4 Coupé during the Le Mans test weekend of 1965
    left the company’s still enthusiastic patron, American-born Colonel
    Johnny Simone, with no entry for the 24-Hours endurance classic.
    He knew that in the Modena factory there was a spare 5,044cc V8 151/4
    engine available, but now without a chassis to accommodate it.
    Ingegnere Giulio Alfieri had a design prepared for a more refined
    version of the Tipo 63/64 ‘Birdcage’-chassised open-cockpit sports-
    prototype theme, and in May that year Col. Simone commissioned
    Maserati to go ahead and build him a hybrid version of it, to be
    powered by the 5.1-litre 4-cam V8 unit. Sponsorship came from BP
    France and with Le Mans only six weeks ahead work began in a rush on
    this Tipo 65 car.
    Alfieri directed that an obsolescent Tipo 63 chassis frame be drawn
    from the factory’s famous ‘mortuary’ store of potentially useful
    scrap. This chassis is believed to have been the long-wheelbase
    serial ’63.008’ – replacement for a short-wheelbase Tipo 63
    using the same serial number – which had first been completed at the
    Maserati factory during April, 1961.

    In original form it had been supplied to the youthful Venetian Count
    Giovanni Volpi di Misurata’s Scuderia Serenissima racing team. It
    was powered by a 4-cylinder 2,980cc engine and had been campaigned in
    the 1961 Targa Florio by Nino Vaccarella/Maurice Trintignant,
    finishing fourth overall. In May that year it had been co-driven by
    Vaccarella/Trintignant and Giorgio Scarlatti in the Nürburgring
    1,000Kms, but failed to finish. It appears that the chassis was then
    stripped of all useable mechanical parts and consigned to the
    Maserati factory’s redundant-parts store.
    Once retrieved for the Maserati France Le Mans programme of 1965,
    this chassis frame was cut in half and placed back upon the chassis
    jig, where a new rear section was constructed and welded into place
    behind the existing rear cockpit bulkhead, while the front section
    was also extensively modified to Alfieri’s latest requirements.
    Where the original four-year old Tipo 63 had weighed a total 780kg,
    this new V8-engined Tipo 65 would turn the scales at nearer 1,200kg.
    Much wider new ‘doughnut’ racing tyres were available in 1965 than
    had been produced in 1961, and where the original Tipo 63’s front
    and rear track widths had been 1250 and 1200mm respectively, the new
    Tipo 65’s were to be 1400 and 1370mm. The new car offered
    insufficient space for a de Dion-type rear axle as used on all
    preceding ‘Birdcage’ series cars and the 151 Coupés, so the Tipo
    65 was equipped instead with wishbone rear suspension sprung by
    torsion bars. As on the preceding Tipo 151 Coupés, the V8 engine was
    equipped with dual ignition, a Bosch alternator and a Lucas dynamo,
    each fully interchangeable. Two sill-mounted fuel tanks plus a third
    in the passenger side of the cockpit provided a combined capacity of
    154 litres.

    Having taken such a flying-start by cannibalising the old Tipo 63
    chassis’ centre-section, this new car was completed from Col.
    Simone’s commission in just thirty days, and it emerged weighing
    some 160kg more than the ill-fated Tipo 151/4 Coupé which it
    replaced. Maserati described its 5,044cc 4-cam V8 engine as
    developing no less than 430-bhp at 7,000rpm. It drove via a five-
    speed plus reverse transaxle and was geared for a maximum speed of
    some 320km/h (195mph).

    The car was tested by Guerrino Bertocchi and the great Umberto
    Maglioli at the Modena aerautodromo and at Monza, with its new Spider
    body work still, in bare aluminium, unpainted. It was then sprayed
    overall white with red/blue/red centreline stripes, and was taken off
    to France on June 14, 1965, with just five days to go before the
    target Le Mans 24-Hours classic.

    At the last moment prior to the great race Col. Simone had secured
    the services of Swiss Formula 1 privateer Josef ‘Seppi’ Siffert,
    together with Porsche works team newboy Jochen Neerpasch. The French
    driver Jean-Claude Vidilles was retained as reserve. Works mechanics
    in attendance with the car were Guerrino Bertocchi himself – the
    factory’s veteran chief mechanic and test driver – Rino Ragazzi,
    Cleto Grandi and Giancarlo Martinelli. The Tipo 65 had received the
    merest minimum of testing.

    Le Mans scrutineering revealed a forward weight distribution of
    532kg, rearward 668kg. Jochen Neerpasch’s first-practice session lap
    time of 4 mins 4.9secs was 17th fastest. Four additional cooling
    scoops were opened in the nose. Jo Siffert then clocked 4mins 3.0secs
    in the second session, but others had also improved, leaving this
    unique Maserati 21st fastest overall.

    Jo Siffert took the start, sprinting across to the long white-painted
    Maserati, leaping in, firing-up that big V8 engine and wheel-spinning
    away right-handed into the day-long race. In fact he made a brilliant
    start and the Tipo 65 was fourth entering the Esses on that opening
    lap, headed only by the Ford GTs of Chris Amon, Bob Bondurant and
    Bruce McLaren. But the works Ferrari P2s, Jochen Rindt’s NART-
    entered Ferrari LM and Dan Gurney’s Cobra Daytona were quickly into
    their stride and as the pack streamed back past the pits to begin lap
    2, Siffert and this latest Maserati lay eighth.

    Through the Esses and down to the right-hander at Tertre Rouge,
    opening out onto the Mulsanne Straight, Siffert came under pressure
    from Innes Ireland’s Ford GT, and the Swiss ex-racing motorcyclist
    entered the corner too fast, spun, and crashed into the straw bales
    lining the inside of the course. His car bounced off with its nose
    radiator punctured. Siffert succeeded in limping it back to the pits,
    but leaked coolant all the way. Under the Le Mans regulations it was
    forbidden to replenish fluids until at least 25 laps had been
    completed, and consequently the heart-broken Maserati crew were left
    with no alternative but to retire their thirty-day wonder after less
    than ten minutes’ racing…

    This car was returned to Modena for repair, and was modestly updated
    with a view to possible further competition, the rear suspension
    torsion bars being replaced by coil-springs and the front suspension
    modified with long-stroke Koni dampers. Even a fresh dash panel was
    fitted. Some 90kg were shed from its overall weight, and the repaired
    nose section was shorter than the original. But the car remained at
    the factory in storage – unraced – through the mid-1960s. In 1966
    it featured as stage-dressing in the background of an Italian spy
    movie. Then in 1967 young Austrian enthusiast Egon Hofer – from
    Salzburg – expressed interest in racing the car for Col. Simone in
    suitable European Group 7 sports car races. The head of Maserati
    France agreed, and Hofer took delivery of the car on July 29, 1967.
    However, on August 23 Col. Simone and his wife, French movie star
    Junie Astor, were both killed in a tragic head-on collision with a
    heavy lorry near Avallon while motoring from Paris to Nice in his
    Maserati Mistral Coupé. Egon Hofer abandoned all plans to return the
    Tipo 65 to racing, and offered instead to sell the car for Simone’s
    surviving heirs, brother George and sister Charlotte.

    In March 1968 it was acquired by Swiss collector Hans Schertenlieb.
    He commissioned body modifications including a new nose, twin
    headlights, additional air-scoops on both front and rear fenders, the
    cars’ second new dashboard and outsize tyres – the panel work
    being carried out by Carrozzeria Drogo in Modena.

    Mr Schertenlieb soon passed the car on to its original Le Mans
    driver, Jo Siffert, for his personal collection in Fribourg. When
    poor ‘Seppi’ was subsequently killed in the Formula 1 BRM at
    Brands Hatch in October 1971, the Tipo 65 was sold from his estate to
    Englishman Bob Owen, racing secretary of the Historic Sports Car Club
    (HSCC). With added roll-over bar and cut-out fenders it was raced
    regularly by Mr Owen in suitable British events, and at Oulton Park
    – driven by Willie Green – it competed fiercely with a Lola T70.

    Bob Owen eventually sold it to Sid Colberg of Anglo-American
    Automobile Investments, and it was advertised for sale by English
    dealer Chris Stewart in December 1978. It was bought at that point by
    German collector Peter Kaus, who retained it as one of the stars of
    his Rosso-Bianco Museum at Aschaffenburg for the following 27 years.

    This remarkable and still plainly potent grand finale to the Orsi
    years of Maserati competition is offered here as displayed at
    Aschaffenburg. As such it will plainly require expert inspection and
    preparation before any attempt is made to run it again in earnest. It
    is undeniably the genuine article. It is unique. It is ex-Le Mans,
    and ex-Maserati France/Jo Siffert/Jochen Neerpasch. It is the last
    word in the Ing. Alfieri line of ‘Birdcage’ Maserati development,
    and it is available right now to the highest bidder – right here in

Saleroom notices

  • Although this motor car is acknowledged to be chassis 65.002, it does bear a chassis no. stamped 151.002. For these V8 series cars Maserati used only even numbers therefore 002 indicates the first (and in this case only) car built. The circumstantial evidence for this is that the 1965 entrant of this Tipo 65 was Maserati France who already held a Customs Carnet for 151.002 raced by them at Le Mans in both 1962 and 1963. Therefore the 151.002 stamping on this chassis becomes self explanatory such is the reality of motor racing.
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