The ex-Isabella Quarantotti and Donatello Mennini
1949 MASERATI A6 1500/3C BERLINETTA
Coachwork by Pinin Farina
Chassis no. 086
Engine no. 086
1,488cc SOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
3 Weber 36 DO2 Carburetors
Approximately 100bhp at 4,700rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
Front Independent Coil Spring Suspension Live Rear Axle
4-Wheel Drum Brakes
*The first of just ten examples factory-equipped with triple Weber carburetors
*Raced in period and the 2006 Mille Miglia Storica
*Well-documented chain of ownership from new
*Sensational five-year restoration completed in 2014
*Accompanied by extensive historical documentation, FIA and FIVA passports, tools and numerous spares
THE MASERATI A6 1500
The A6 1500, named for founder Alfieri Maserati and the car's 1.5-liter six-cylinder engine, was the first of the Trident's postwar sports cars and the last designed by the Maserati brothers. As the company's initial foray into road car production, the A6 1500 is the progenitor of a legendary line of six-cylinder road cars and sports-racers, not least the venerable 300S.
Like the contemporaneous Cisitalia 202, the all-aluminum Pinin Farina coachwork was a breakthrough in modern design, incorporating elegant hidden door handles and the classic Maserati grill. The thoroughbred A6 1500 is powered by an aluminum / magnesium derivative of Maserati's 6CM Grand Prix engine, in an innovative tubular chassis carrying an interior of surprising refinement, a combination of performance and luxury that set the pattern for Maserati road cars of later years.
THE MOTORCAR OFFERED
Chassis 086 was produced around the midpoint of the series of sixty-one A6 1500s built between 1947 and 1951, and is particularly noteworthy as the first car to be fitted with triple Weber carburetors. This desirable enhancement considerably raised power from the single-carbureted base version, and signaled the marque's refocusing on performance instead of accommodating postwar low-octane fuel constraints. Only nine other A6 1500s were similarly equipped during production with competition-grade power, of which just one other is known to still survive in an Italian museum.
Sent to Pinin Farina on December 11, 1948, for their handsome fastback coachwork, this car returned to Maserati in July 1949 and was personally evaluated the following month by the factory's famed chief test driver, Guerino Bertocchi. On September 14, s/n 086 was consigned to dealer Peppino Santi of Rome and one day later a factory invoice was issued to the first owner of record, Isabella Quarantotti, an aristocratic writer and playwright perhaps best known for her collaboration with film director Vittorio de Sica.
Although registered in Italy at Ms. Quarantotti's residence in Positano, her new Maserati was delivered to a garage near the hotel in Paris where she was living with her future second husband, English poet Alexander Ronald "Alec" Smith. The couple were at that time acquiring a number of high-performance sports cars, including a pair of Alfa Romeo 6C 2500s. Although one of the Alfas was a competizione version, Quarantotti and Smith explored entry of the Maserati into the 18th Le Mans 24 Hours, receiving an invitation letter from the Association Sportive de l'Automobile Club de l'Ouest. It is not known why 086 did not ultimately participate in the race, but had it done so, it would have been the first Maserati at Le Mans.
In late December 1950, the A6 1500 was purchased by Donatello Mennini, a textiles entrepreneur and champion skier and soccer player from Tessilprato. Maserati records indicate that Mr. Mennini returned the car to the factory for servicing, and by April 1952 the A6 had been sold to Celestina Basini of Firenze.
A little more than one year later, on July 12, 1953, the car was registered to its next owner, U.S. Army officer Larry James Pichichero of Ohio, who was stationed in Livorno. Taking advantage of the car's high state of tune, Pichichero entered several races where his friend and fellow army officer, Thomas "Tony" Martin, took on driving duties. As reflected by period race forms that are included in the car's encyclopedic file of documentation, the first of these races was the 2nd Salita del Castellaccio on September 20, 1953, followed by the 1st Coppa Commandante Giovanni Braccini at Saline di Volterra a week later. Wearing number "102," the Maserati was photographed at the latter race's paddock amongst a bevy of rare postwar sports-racers, including two of the three original Abarth 205s.
In late 1957, California gunsmith Ernest Nanson was vacationing in Italy and spotted 086 on a sales lot. After purchasing the car as transport for the remainder of his European stay, Mr. Nanson imported it to the United States and retained possession until shortly before his passing in 1979, concluding a 22-year ownership.
In August 1981, the handsome Maserati was purchased by William McKinley of Sacramento, California, who commissioned a full restoration from Brian Moore's Performance Painting in nearby Rancho Cordova. Moore, the future founder of the Niello Concours d'Elegance, received mechanical assistance from Tex Countryman, while Maserati specialist Paul Merrigan also contributed his expertise. The car was thoroughly refurbished and repainted red.
Following restoration, 086 ran the Monterey Historics in August 1983, and the following June it took home Best-in-Show and the People's Choice Award at the 6th Maserati International Meet at Lake Tahoe. Additional awards in 1984 included third-in-class at Pebble Beach and first-in-class at the Newport Beach Concours d'Elegance, while the car received further acclaim when featured on the front and back covers of Viale Ciro Menotti, the Magazine for Maserati Enthusiasts.
Offered by McKinley at the 1985 Monterey Sports Car Auction, the A6 was acquired by a British collector who, in turn, sold the car in May 1987 to Dominos Pizza founder Tom Monaghan. Shortly thereafter, 086 was featured in The Great Book of Sports Cars (by Dean Batchelor, Chris Poole, and Graham Robson), as representative of Maserati's first hand-built road cars.
Passing through the esteemed Blackhawk Collection of Danville, California, the Maserati was purchased in 1990 by Fernando dos Santos Martins of Lisbon, Portugal. He apparently drove 086 very little over the course of his ensuing twelve-year ownership, but while in his collection the car was featured in a major article in the June 2001 issue of Retroviseur, a French vintage automotive magazine.
In 2005, the superb A6 1500 was purchased by Bill Noon of Symbolic Motors in La Jolla, California, who quickly obtained an FIA Historic Technical Passport and a FIVA identity card. Despite being virtually untouched for more than twenty years, 086 was actively campaigned by Mr. Noon in numerous Concours and competition events, including the 2006 Mille Miglia Storica.
Purchased in 2009 by the consignor, 086 was presented that June at Le Belle Macchine d'Italia in Pennsylvania, an appropriate venue given the event's guest of honor, esteemed Maserati S.p.A. archivist Ermano Cozza. Following this appearance, the consignor pursued a research-intensive nut-and-bolt restoration that has taken five years to finish. Final assembly was performed by the highly regarded outfit, Steel Wings, while the interior has been completed to an exceptional level of detail by 13-time Pebble Beach award winner Gary Maucher.
Today chassis no. 086 stands much as it was first delivered, with Positano license plates and French-specification yellow Marchal headlamps. The exceptional authenticity and quality of its restoration, at an expenditure of more than $350,000 (notwithstanding having started with a fully operational vehicle), should ensure welcome at any level of Concours. Equal attention has been devoted to improving the already enviable reliability record of 086 in events, in particular through hidden modernization of the electrical system.
Early Maseratis are considerably more rare than Ferraris of comparable vintage, although Ferrari was just starting production at the time when chassis 086 emerged from the shop of its legendary racing forebears. The consignor believes the Maserati to be a far more enjoyable car to drive, with its lighter weight, better balance and more sophisticated coil-spring suspension. Here today, 086 is ready to provide its new owner with immediate access to events of the highest caliber, or simply the joy of experiencing a genuine example of a landmark achievement by one of Italy's greatest marques.