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Archives for December 2011
From Birdcage to Supercage
By Willem Oosthoek
Dalton Watson Fine Books, 2004
Hardbound, 338 pages
$140.00 ON SALE NOW!!
Review by Pete Vack
All images courtesy the Author and Publisher
“From Birdcage to Supercage” literally bursts from the pages, casting its considerable content upon the widened eyes of the beholder. The 10 x 13 inch portrait format is huge, and the 350 superb photos are not only enlarged to the maximum extent possible, but most have not been seen in print.
But don’t think of this as a coffee table book, which is generally slang for a potboiler bought at Books-A-Million by a well meaning relative as a Christmas gift. Willem Oosthoek’s 338 page opus is a serious, in-depth history of the ten little known rear-engined Maseratis which were built from 1961 to 1965.
For one brief and perhaps not so shining moment, the Tipo 63, 63, and 65 Maseratis, in both four cylinder, V-8 and V-12 form, blasted onto the racing scene, creating a great deal of power, noise, and controversy. They featured the most complex chassis ever known to man or machine. That they were known as the “Supercages” was not surprising, as the increased number of tiny tubes needed to support the larger, more potent car made the earlier Tipo 60 and 61 Birdcages look like Tweedy Bird’s old home. It was Maserati’s swansong, the last competition car made by the factory under the Orsis.
Fierce, fascinating, formidable, the rear engined “Cages” were ignored by the factory, collectors and historians until the early 1990s, when Oostheok, Egon Hofer and others started tracking convoluted history of each car.
The photography and layout deserves special mention. First, there are few photos less than eight inches in width, and a good percentage of the black and white selections are given a full page, or larger, treatment. Second, the source, quality, and reproduction, is excellent. According to Oosthoek, “The main body of photos came from three people. Bob Tronolone, Flip Schulke, and Egon Hofer, who had excellent archives with negatives taken by Pete Coltrin. Bernard Cahier came to the rescue for the Nurburgring, and Geoffrey Goddard and my late friend Henri Beroul for Le Mans. Bill Green helped me with Watkins Glen.The Bridgehampton photos came from the Ludvigsen Collection in London and European friends like Michel Bollee, Walter Baumer and Andre Pibarot.” A magnificent cast. The photos and the generous treatment allowed by Dalton Watson are worth the price of admission.
Thankfully assuming a great deal of knowledge on the part of the reader, Oosthoek wastes no time in getting very deeply into the subject, focusing on the rear engined cars, providing only a brief background on the front engined Tipo 60 and 61. For those who are expecting a history of the original Birdcage, look elsewhere.
Oosthoek chose to organize the material by race rather than individual serial number—which makes sense from a chronological perspective but detracts from the emphasis of the Maseratis. Perhaps this was intentional; for Oosthoek brings forth the entire era, describing the competitors such as Porsche, Ferrari, Scarab and Chaparral in detail. There is much more here than Maseratis. The rear engined Maseratis participated in 17 events from 1961 to 1965, and there is a chapter on each event, with complete results and grid positions. Fortunately for us, the Supercages participated in FIA WSCC events, SCCA, the Professional West Coast series, and the Nassau Speedweeks. Oosthoek not only details the fate (and the state) of each Supercage in the particular race, but recounts each race from an overall perspective.
Inserted between the race chapters are chapters relating to the development of the cars. For example “Banking on the V12” describes the manner in which the potent 3 liter 310 hp engine replaced the aging four cylinder unit, while chapter 11 discusses the redesign after the 1961 Le Mans event. Thus chronological continuity is maintained throughout, while providing detailed insight regarding the development of the model. It is an unusual structure, but works.
Maserati’s racing efforts in the 1960s were supported entirely by independent teams, which makes the story even more complex and interesting. Oosthoek devotes a chapter to those teams, including Cunningham, Scuderia Serenissima, Camoradi and a separate chapter on the Tipo 65 and Colonel Johnny Simone—who has remained a mystery since his untimely death in 1967.
Oosthoek pays particular attention to the background. Explaining the successes of the Tipo 61 during the 1960 SCCA season, he notes that the appearance of the Lotus 19 in the hands of Moss and Gurney late in the season, gave notice to Maserati that the days of the front engined car were over. It was expected that the Italian firm would create a rear engined car to compete with the likes of the Lotus and Cooper Monacos. The simultaneous success of the Maserati 3500 GT in the US made it clear to the Orsis that they should continue to provide independents with competitive cars to race in the US. What wins on Sunday, sells on Monday—
In the same fashion, he relates the changes which took place in the US, making sports car racing more exciting, and perhaps more popular than in Europe. USAC had created a professional series, the Cal Club continued on its own path, and even the stalwarts at the SCCA saw the need for a professional series of races. Fed up with the high cost and lack of reliability of Italian and British engines, race car owners soon began using the new generation of lightweight American V8 engines, shoehorning them into whatever chassis happened to be lying around the shop. American sports car racing came alive, and would eventually give birth the Can Am series. But the days of the Ferrari and Maserati victories were not from over yet, and added to the spectacle of brawn vs brains.
In addition to providing complete race analysis, Oosthoek has traced the history of each Supercage to date, sorting out the mysteries of serial number changes and false claims. The history of the seven Tipo 63s and two Tipo 64 cars are featured in a final chapter, followed by the race record of each car.
Oosthoek has provided a fascinating, in depth look into a part of Italian and American racing history long ignored, and thoroughly documented the last of the red hot Maseratis. Dalton Watson has published a huge book. We should be very glad that historians like Oosthoek long to write and publishers like Glyn Morris at Dalton Watson are still willing to produce. “Birdcage to Supercage” is highly recommended and a must have for any serious Maserati or Italian racing enthusiast.
Maserati Tipo 60 and 61 The Magnificent Front-engined Birdcages
By Willem Oosthoek and Michel Bollee
Hard cover with slipcase, 335 pages of color and black and white photos. Published by Dalton Watson, Deerfield IL
“From Birdcage To Supercage” covers the rear engined Tipo 63-64-65 Maseratis while “Magnificent Front-Engine Birdcages” covers the front engined Tipo 60 and 61s. The two volumes are available in a special slipcase and if ordered together cost only $225– a savings of $65. And that’s now on sale for $169 for a total savings of over $120! To order at these sale prices, simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your request.This offer ends December 31st 2011 so act now.
Review by Pete Vack
All images courtesy the Author and Publisher
Thanks to Willem Oosthoek, Michel Bollee and several others, we are gathering an impressive library of well-researched books on Maserati which in due course may approach the level of research done on other marques, such as Ferrari. Previously, writers such as Joel Finn, Rob Box, Anthony Pritchard and Orsini/Zagari have laid the groundwork with overall histories and technical specs for many of the pre and post-war Maseratis. Since then, a more detailed series of books have been published, all with serial number information. To that list, this year we can add “The Magnificent Front-engined Birdcages” again by Oosthoek and Bollee, which delightfully covers the twenty two Maserati Tipos 60 and 61.
[Read more…] about Maserati Birdcage Tipo 60 and 61
Story and Photos below By Peter Collins
Above photo courtesy of the Classic Rally Association.
Portions of this article appeared in the new online classic rally magazine, Retro-Speed.
Check it out for classic rally stories and results!
When friend and colleague Peter Baker asked me if I would like to occupy the navigator’s seat in his well-prepared Lancia Fulvia 1600 HF for the Classic Rally Association’s Winter Challenge. The Rally started from Chester, which is a large and historic town south of Liverpool and close to the Welsh border (it has been used as a rally base several times in the past), and finished at Monte Carlo. I naturally acquiesced immediately. A fun drive with a spot of map-reading – easy, job done–but I had failed to notice that the event was an FIA Regularity round. This latter detail meant that it would be up to expert standards in all respects in order for it to be ratified by the international motorsport body, the Federation Internationale d’Automobile.
Ferrari built 272 examples of the real thing. Tamiya built this one…
Review and photos by Marshall Buck
To my eye, the 1984-86 Ferrari 288 GTO is one of the most beautiful modern sports car designs ever penned. Though it was based on another great design, the new for ’84 GTO was once again perfection from the house of Pininfarina.
I am more of vintage car guy; my main interest is sports and classic cars from the 1930’s through about 1970, but this one rings every bell for me, as does the beautiful 1:12 scale model.
The 288 GTO was designed and built specifically to compete in a new Group B racing series. At that time the requirements for this particular series were that a manufacturer must produce a minimum of 200 cars for homologation.
“Best laid plans…….” Unfortunately the new Group B series was abandoned before it ever got on the track since only Ferrari and Porsche built cars for the series. None of the 272 cars which Ferrari built were ever raced; they all remained road cars…… very fast and scary road cars at that. Most were sold in Europe as they were not certified for sale in the USA, though there were many that were imported and federalized by specialists such as Amerispec.
Scary fast…… The 288 had the power to back up its looks. The heart in each one was a mid mounted V-8 with twin IHI turbochargers. Top speed in Europe was an eye watering 189 mph. Here in the US the top end was reduced to somewhere around a mere 175 mph.
By Roberto Motta
Photos courtesy of Ferrari-Media
For Ferrari’s 458 Italia, 2011 was an exceptional year. In addition to the many awards and accolades from the international press, the Prancing Horse berlinetta won many successes in major national and international GT racing.
[Read more…] about Ferrari 458 Italia’s Winning Year In English and Italian
Story and photos by Hugues Vanhoolandt
Ferrari, a Special Exhibition in the Pantheon, Basel, Switzerland
The Pantheon in Basel is located in a spectacular building where privately owned vintage cars are exhibited along a circular ramp. It is a garage, a workshop, a sales and rental facility, a place to hold special events, and a lot more. According to the Pantheon site, “Stephan Musfeld has been a vintage car enthusiast since the days of his youth. So, when he happened to hear about the vacant premises formerly occupied by the Züblin repair and machinery workshop in Muttenz, the project became virtually inevitable. And thus it came about that Basle once again became Switzerland’s center for yet another theme of special interest.”
[Read more…] about Pantheon Ferrari Exhibition
Graham Gauld talks to Maserati 300S author Walter Bäumer
Two years ago Walter Bäumer Jr. launched his tome on Maserati and in particular to the Tipo 300S and since then he has been working on an equally complicated book on the Maserati A6G 2000 Zagato models. However,If you are of a certain age the name Walter Bäumer might mean something to you for there was a Walter Bäumer who raced for Mercedes-Benz in 1938. He was the author’s uncle.
Young Walter is a very amusing and affable enthusiast who specializes in Maserati history (www.internationalMASERATIresearch.com) but about a year ago we talked a bit about his family and particularly his uncle.
[Read more…] about Graham Gauld, By The Way
Review by Pete Vack
Maserati 300S by Walter Bäumer
295 mm x 290mm, 360 pages, 390 historical black and white and color, case bound with dust jacket and slip case. Price, $155 USD ON SALE NOW FOR $116 and Free US Shipping!
To Order email email@example.com
Walter Bäumer’s new book on Maserati A6G Zagatos will be available soon from Dalton Watson.
The most dog eared books (the ones most referred to and therefore cherished) we have in our office library are those with the little numbers and big pictures (both literally and figuratively).
[Read more…] about Maserati 300S: Greatest Sports Racer, Ever?