1934 Maserati 4CS 1500 Sports,
Lot 172
The Ex-Scuderia Subalpina, Mille Miglia, Briggs Cunningham Collection,1935 Maserati 4CS-1100/1500 1124
Sold for €643,000 (US$ 874,158) inc. premium
Lot Details
The Ex-Scuderia Subalpina, Mille Miglia, Briggs Cunningham Collection
1935 Maserati 4CS-1100/1500
Chassis no. 1124

Footnotes

  • This most attractive 1500cc-engined Maserati sports-racing car began competitive life in 1935 as one of the factory-backed private entries in that year’s classical Mille Miglia round-Italy road race. There is a probability that the car contested a second Mille Miglia as late as 1938, and at some stage after that event – but probably before Italy entered the Second World War in the mid-summer of 1940 – this car’s original cycle-mudguard bodywork, was replaced by the present well-proportioned and well-made enveloping body form.

    This car was acquired by the late Briggs Swift Cunningham for his legendary Cunningham Automotive Museum display in Costa Mesa, California, in 1969. It thus became one of the last historic competition vehicles to be purchased by the world-renowned American car connoisseur. It was sold subsequently by Cunningham into Italian ownership before being acquired by German connoisseur Peter Kaus for his magnificent Rosso Bianco Collection in Aschaffenburg. This Monaco Sale presents the first opportunity for a new owner of similar stature to acquire what is surely one of the most delightful small-capacity Maserati sports-racing cars from that classical period of the 1930s.

    Would-be purchasers of this historic sports-racing car should also be aware that these small-capacity Maseratis were not only rare – only five definitive 4CS-1100s and seven 4CS-1500s being documented in contemporary factory records – they were also extraordinarily successful, these Bolognese-built 1100s winning their category in the legendary Mille Miglia no fewer than four times, 1932, and 1934-36 consecutively.

    Chassis ‘1124’ offered here began life during the winter of 1934-35 in the contemporary production factory of Officine Maserati, at the Ponte Vecchio, Bologna. It was invoiced to the Turin-based Scuderia Subalpina on March 15, 1935. This sporting organisation had been founded by Count Luigi Della Chiesa, who on December 14, 1934, had announced a quasi-works-team association with Maserati, similar to that under which the Scuderia Ferrari was doing battle on behalf of the Alfa Romeo factory. Della Chiesa was backed by industrialists Giorgio Ambrosini (owner of Siata) and Giorgio Giusti, and the wealthy enthusiast and racing driver Gino Rovere, who would also assume the Presidency of Maserati itself. Rovere also funded the early racing appearances of Dr Nino Farina who would become motor racing’s first Formula 1 World Champion Driver postwar.

    Maserati ‘1124’ was one of three Mille Miglia sports cars ordered by this wealthy and well-connected racing team, its sisters being the big and extremely powerful 3.7-litre 6C-34 Sport chassis ‘3026’ (to be raced in the forthcoming Mille Miglia by Varzi-Bignami) and the 4CS-1500 chassis ‘1524’ (which would be crewed in the Mille Miglia by Scarfiotti-Penati, racing number ‘70’).

    By that time Alfieri Maserati’s basic 4-cylinder 1100cc competition car design was already four years old. It had been developed to supply a popular capacity-class of both national and International motor sport, in dual-purpose single-seat – monoposto - and two-seat – sport biposto – body forms. The eldest Maserati brother had based his engine design upon the proven architecture of his preceding straight-8 power units, to be mounted in a lightened, drilled chassis frame similarly derived from his successful 8C-series of racing cars.

    The prototype Maserati 4C-1100 had emerged in two-seat sports form rigged with cycle mudguards and full lighting equipment in time for the 1931 Mille Miglia. Crewed by Tuffanelli/Bertocchi it won the 1100cc category. This model was retrospectively entitled the 4CTR (4-cilindi testa riportata – ‘detachable cylinder head’) and it spawned the definitive 4CS and 4CM models from 1932, when Alfieri died prematurely, and kid brother Ernesto assumed prime design responsibility.

    The surviving Maserati brothers intended the 4CS two-seater to be a dual-purpose endurance-racing and road car (in that order), while the 4CM was an up-to-date slender-bodied, open-wheeled centreline single-seater for 1100cc and 1500cc Vetturetta-class racing – the contemporary stepping-stone towards Grand Prix competition.

    The first of the true 4CS-1100 cars was displayed by Maserati in the 1932 Milan Motor Show, bodied by Carrozzeria Brianza and liveried in flaring yellow. That car is recorded as chassis serial ‘1114’ but no other 4CS sports car versions seem to have been sold until 1935, just five 4CM pure racing cars being delivered through 1932, plus one 4CM-1100 engine for boat racer Luciano Uboldi. However, Piero Taruffi drove a 4CS-1100 with factory cycle-mudguard body in the 1934 Mille Miglia to win the class a second time. In 1935-36 Ettore Bianco’s 4CS-1100 added two more consecutive class victories to this too-often overlooked Maserati model’s illustrious history.

    In fact interest in the 1100cc category had slumped, and it was not revived until 1935, when 4CS ‘1124’ offered here was constructed for the Scuderia Subalpina as the second of a batch of three sister 1100s, the others selling to Moris Bergamini of Mantua and Ettore Bianco of Genoa. Three 4CM-1100 single-seaters were also produced that year, for Barbieri, Tuffanelli, Bergamini (to accompany his new 4CS) and Count ‘Johnny’ Lurani.

    One final 4CS-1100 – the sixth constructed – would be delivered to Franco Bertani in 1936, based upon what originally had been a 1500 model.

    The 4CS engine was an in-line twin-overhead camshaft 4-cylinder dry-sump unit with bore and stroke dimensions of 65mm x 82mm, displacing 1088.4cc. It was equipped with Roots supercharging and developed up to 115bhp at 6,000rpm. Overall dry weight in cycle-mudguard form was around 700kg – c. 1,500lbs – and maximum speed 150km/h – 95mph. This engine specification was shared with the sister, though slender-chassised, 4CM single-seater cars, which were some 120kg – c. 300lbs – lighter, and proved capable of up to 210km/h – c.135mph.

    On April 9, 1935 the Scuderia Subalpina also took delivery of a 4CS-1500 model with 1.5-litre engine, chassis ‘1524’, three weeks after having accepted ‘1124’. The larger engine had bore and stroke dimensions of 69mm x 100mm, displacing 1497.7cc, and delivered a claimed 115bhp at 5,000rpm, with much improved torque and acceleration. Car weight was actually reduced by some 70kg – 150lbs – and top speed was claimed to be 170km/h – c. 105mph.

    Italy’s annual Mille Miglia was obviously the Maserati 4CS cars’ prime reason to exist. The 1935 event saw Subalpina’s new ‘1124’ being driven in the great race by either Gildo Strazza (racing number ‘20’ or by Guido Romano (racing number ‘23’).

    Strazza was accompanied by Baldini in his 4CS, leaving the Brescia startline at 4:09.30 in the morning, Bosch headlights ablaze. The Scuderia Subalpina in fact received backing from the German electrical company, and its Maseratis were also equipped with Bosch ignition magnetos, in place of Maseratis’ usually-preferred Scintilla-Vertex type. Strazza/Baldini reached the Rome control at 06:21, 9 minutes 20 seconds slower than the sister car of Ettore Bianco/’Guerrino’ Bertocchi, but they were forced to retire during the second half of the classic event, without reaching the finish back in Brescia. Bianco/Bertocchi went on to win the category, an incredible 7th overall, in 15 hours 12 minutes and 56 seconds…more than two hours ahead of their closest rivals, the Villoresi brothers’ Fiat…

    The second Subalpina-entered 4CS-1100 of Masera/Romano left Brescia at 4.11am, had its passage card stamped by the Rome control officials at 07:37.10, and hammered on to complete the full race distance back in Brescia after a grueling 18 hours 25mins 57secs, being placed 25th overall.

    The Bergamini/Braghiroli 4CS-1100 (number ‘38’) also failed to finish, as did the Subalpina team’s 4CS-1500 ‘1524’ shared by Scarfiotti/Penati.

    We are advised that the car offered here, chassis ‘1124’ may have been re-equipped with the 1500cc engine in place of its original 1100cc power unit, in time for the 1938 Mille Miglia in which such a car – reportedly still featuring the original-type cycle-mudguard bodywork - was co-driven by Brezzi/Rivetti (racing number ‘127’). That car’s start time is recorded as having been 04.51 which according to contemporary race reporter Giovanni Canestrini was the final slot allocated to cars of up to 2000cc supercharged. The unfortunate crew did not make it as far as the Rome control.

    Information available on the car’s subsequent owners has still to be confirmed before its purchase by Briggs Cunningham in Italy in the summer of 1969, by which time this chassis was already equipped with the pretty wheel-enveloping bodywork with which it is offered here today.

    The Cunningham Automotive Museum’s own description of this car read, in part, as follows: “Its last event was the XV Autogimcana Alpina, Laverona, in August 1968…it has been extensively modified in certain areas to up-date it; the most noticeable modifications being a new body and…independent front suspension. The present body is much wider (than original) with full fenders and sweeping lines reminiscent of Figoni et Falaschi coachwork…
    “The original firewall is still in place and is forward of the new firewall which forms a large offset and nearly doubles the original width…”, undoubtedly rendering the car immensely more habitable and comfortable than it could ever have been in its original slim-bodied, cycle-mudguard form.

    We understand that the car resold in later years from Cunningham to Italy, from where it was acquired by Peter Kaus for his Rosso Bianco Collection.

    As with all cars which are emerging from long-term museum preservation and display we would advise that detailed mechanical inspection and preparation should now be undertaken by experienced Maserati specialists.

    But this is undoubtedly a uniquely-bodied example of an already rare and most attractive post-Vintage thoroughbred Maserati, one which started life with one of the legendary Italian brothers’ sophisticated twin-overhead camshaft 1100cc supercharged engines, which has been upgraded – very probably within period – to 1500cc form. It is, above all, a Maserati whose history should certainly qualify it for entry not only in today’s Mille Miglia re-run but also in the widest possible range of the most glamorous and discerning of International historic races, rallies and concours, worldwide.

    Cette Maserati sport-compétition 1500 cm3, un des types les plus intéressants de la marque au trident, a commencé sa carrière à la Mille Miglia 1935. Selon toutes probabilités, cette voiture a couru une seconde Mille Miglia en 1938 et, à un certain moment avant 1940, sa carrosserie originale à roues découvertes et ailes cycle a fait place à la caisse enveloppante qui l'habille aujourd'hui. Acquise par le regretté Briggs Swift Cunningham pour figurer dans son légendaire Cunningham Automotive Museum en 1969, elle est donc l'un des derniers véhicules de compétition acheté par ce grand connaisseur américain d'automobiles de qualité. Elle fut aussi la propriété de la Collection Rosso Bianco du grand collectionneur allemand Peter Kaus. Cette vente de Monaco représente la première occasion pour un amateur tout aussi connaisseur et compétent d'acquérir ce qui est très certainement l'une des plus séduisantes Maserati sport-compétition de petite cylindrée créée dans la période classique des années 1930.

    Ces Maserati, quoique de cylindrée modeste, sont non seulement rares - on ne compte que cinq 4CS-1100 et sept 4CS-1500 -mais aussi extraordinairement efficaces : les 1100 remportèrent leur catégorie pas moins de quatre fois à la Mille Miglia.

    Le châssis n° 1124 proposé ici fut livré et facturé à la Scuderia Subalpina basée à Turin le 15 mars 1935. Elle fut pilotée par Gildo Strazza (n° de course 20) ou par Guido Romano (n° 23). Strazza abandonna tandis que Masera-Romano parvenaient à l'arrivée après 18h 25 min et 57 sec d'une course épuisante. Nous savons que ce châssis 1124 a pu être ré-équipé d'un moteur 1500 cm3 à temps pour la Mille Miglia 1938 où une voiture de ce type fut pilotée par Brezzi/Rivetti sous le n° de course 127. Voici ici une occasion d’acquérir une Maserati dont l’histoire nous permettra de participer mon seulement a la Mille Miglia mais aussi a tous les rallyes, courses et évènements les plus exclusifs, les plus glamours a travers la planète entière.

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