This astonishing machine has remained complete and original in its condition as last raced in 1964, and has been in single ownership since purchased by the vendor in 1966. It is a time-warp example of the rare Type 60, being the first full production car after the construction of the prototype, which had subsequently been uprated by the factory to Tipo 61 specification the following year. It remains in running condition even today, 35 years later, yet showing every element of graceful aging, including cracked old paintwork, dents to the bodywork, older running repairs and minor modifications to suit the drivers during its career. It is a unique car, it has never been out of Italy, it has never been restored and its specification is as near as possible just as it left the factory.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1960 Maserati Tipo 60
Years Produced:1959-60
Number Produced:22 (5 Tipo 60, 17 Tipo 61)
Original List Price:N/A
SCM Valuation:$850,000-$1,000,000
Tune Up Cost:$5,000-$7,000 (race prep)
Distributor Caps:N/A
Chassis Number Location:Right front suspension at top shock mount
Engine Number Location:Left side of block
Club Info:Maserati Club International, Box 1015, Mercer Island, WA 98040
Alternatives:Ferrari 196S, Lotus 15, Cooper Monaco

The car described here sold for $2,050,263, including buyer’s premium, at the Christie’s London sale held March 26, 2001, at the Jack Barclay Showroom.
Maserati ran both the A6 and the 200S in the two-liter class during the early and mid-1950s. As the decade continued, lightweight British entries made it to the front of the grid. The Coventry Climax FPF, fitted to most of the competitive British entrants in that class, produced 150-175 horsepower in two-liter form, less than the claimed outputs of the same capacity in the engines from Maserati or Ferrari. But the cars from Cooper and (especially) Lotus made up the power deficit with lightweight construction and superior grip.
This lesson was not lost on Maserati’s racing chief, Alfieri, who purchased a Lotus XI for study. Before 1960 the most advanced two-liter car was the Lotus 15; a car with a very lightweight spaceframe and an engine canted 60 degrees to lower the hood line. The Lotus, though front engined and saddled with a quirky gearbox, was at that time the pinnacle of front-engine sports racing design from Great Britain. What happened next showed that Alfieri was again paying attention to what the quicker entries were doing.
Maserati built a wide variety of largely successful racing cars in the 1950s. By the end of the decade, the company was worn thin financially, but had on the shelf 4-, 6- and 12-cylinder engines and a transaxle designed by their in-house gearbox man, Valerio Colotti. If it were to be built, the Birdcage would have to use as many off-the-shelf components as possible. The suspension and transaxle of the 250F were combined with a 200S engine canted 45 degrees to lower the hood line a la the Lotus 15. The two-liter engine produced a claimed 200 horsepower.
The spindly, tubular spaceframe that gave the Tipo 60 its “Birdcage” nickname produced a car that was astonishingly light. Some reports put the car at 1,100 pounds and others at 1,300. Either way the car, though at least 100 pounds heavier than the Lotus, was lighter than any Maserati sports racer before; it probably appeared to be made of soda straws compared to an average Italian tube frame. This lightweight construction, coupled with fantastic brakes and more horsepower than any Climax-powered car, made the Birdcage an effective tool in the two-liter class. Stateside, the over two-liter class was very popular at that time, filled with a mix of V8 specials and purpose-built, big-bore race cars from both England and Italy.
Though often running against engines of much larger capacity, the three-liter Tipo 61 driven by the likes of Jim Hall and Carroll Shelby proved to be very competitive and probably the last great front-engined sports racer. Like all Maserati race cars, today the Birdcage is well regarded by competitors and collectors. The patina on this car and its unblemished mechanical specifications (rather like the lightweight E-type that turned up in a Southern California garage a few years ago) is the stuff that makes enthusiasts drool—the ultimate barn find, an unmolested car that is a snapshot of the time when it was the state of the art.
Sadly, the amazing original cars that turn up are often ones that never ran at the front of international races; any car with that sort of provenance would have been modified or had parts replaced over time, leaving little of the genuine original car intact. This Birdcage is no exception. It’s a champion of club races and hillclimbs in its native country rather than a veteran of Le Mans or Sebring. Still, a sale price of a million over its low estimate shows the appeal of thoroughbred machinery with the patina of an original Stradivarius violin. Is this figure repeatable? For a similar car, yes. But where is that car?—Michael Duffey
(Historic data and photo courtesy of auction company.)

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