Maserati Tipo 60 Birdcage: With the revolution as a standard

With this model the Italian brand achieved several triumphs in the main long-term races.

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On July 12, 1959 the Maserati Tipo 60 Birdcage, at the controls of the then thirty-year-old Stirling Moss, debuted in the Rouen race in the category Sport. The Type 60 was victorious in that event and thus began a series of Italian motorsport successes that included four Mountain Championships, in 1960, 1961 and 1962 with Odoardo Govoni and in 1963 with Nino Todaro; and two of Track Speed, in 1960 with Mennate Boffa and in 1963 with Todaro himself.

The history of this car began in 1958 when the Orsi family, then owner of the House of the Trident, entrusted the engineer Giulio Alfieri, Maserati technical manager, the project of finding new technical solutions to make vehicles destined for competitions even more competitive.

Maserati Tipo 60 Birdcage: With the revolution as a standard
First test of the Type 60 with Stirling Moss in Modena.

Engineer Alfieri was given complete freedom of action, leading to a historic revolution in the brand. Initially, it was thought of making a new vehicle equipped with a monocoque structure, but the idea was not successful.

In October 1958 Alfieri and his collaborators discussed how to combine lightness and great torsional rigidity.. They then designed a highly evolved new chassis made up of around 200 small diameter steel tubes (between 10 and 15 mm) which, joined together in a complex lattice, formed part of a bird cage structure: hence the nickname Birdcage.

For Type 60, the Compact 2-liter four-cylinder engine that was positioned centrally and tilted 45 ° to lower the center of gravity. The impeller, derived from the 200S, was appropriately modified, with a deep revision that took the exhaust to the right side. Also the bore / stroke ratio went from 1,226: 1 (92x75mm) of the 200S to 1,302: 1 (93,8x72mm). The carburettors were two Weber 45 DCO3, the dual battery ignition with Marelli distributor and the maximum power of 200 CV.

The suspensions were coil springs and De Dion rear axle with transverse leaf spring.. The technical solutions adopted in the Type 60 allowed to limit the weight up to 570 kg. The vehicle proved to be very balanced both from the point of view of weight distribution and aerodynamics.

Maserati Tipo 60 Birdcage: With the revolution as a standard
A Type 60 from the Momo Corporation team.

The first copy was finished in May 1959 with a frame made of high quality chrome steel tubes, totally non-deformable. This first specimen was entrusted to Moss, who drove it in various tests in the Modena Aeroautodrome and in Nurburgring.

During these tests, Alfieri realized that, Due to the low deformability of the steel, there were numerous and imperceptible fractures in the welds, putting the pilot's safety at risk.

Surprising everyone, decided to replace high-quality steel with mediocre one, which allowed the chassis to absorb the demands and thus avoid fractures. Faced with his detractors, Alfieri's intuition proved the winner.

Thanks to the victory obtained at Rouen on July 12, 1959 and other prestigious results, The Type 60 was highly sought after by private teams and Gentlemen Drivers they could afford the high purchase price of the Birdcage.

This Maserati generated great interest from teams that competed in the United States with three-liter Sport vehicles. This pushed the brand to value a solution to satisfy its best customers.

The four-cylinder was raised to a displacement of 2.890 cc. The power thus increased by 3 hp and the total weight of the vehicle - now called Type 50 - reached 61 kg also thanks to the adoption of a new larger drive shaft.

Consumption remained contained and this characteristic was decisive in long-term races, where the Birdcage managed to significantly reduce the number of stops for refueling.

Maserati Tipo 60 Birdcage: With the revolution as a standard
Nino Vaccarella in action with the Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage.

In 1960 Maserati did not create an official team, instead it decided to support the American team. Camoradi de Lloyd Casner, who in the 1000 km of Nurburgring put two Type 61 on track. The team made up of Moss and Dan Gurney won the victory while that of Masten gregory y Gino Munaron it was ranked third.

During the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a Maserati Type 61 reached the 270 km/h, the highest speed ever achieved by a 3-liter Sport vehicle. In that same year the team formed by Gregory and Casner was classified again in the first place in the 1000 Km by Nürburgring, ahead of the Ferrari 250 TR 61 of the Mexican brothers Rodríguez.

Between January and February 1961, with the last two Type 61, the production of this model ended, whose fame still lasts over time.

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Diego durruty

Journalist with 30 years of experience. Worked in magazines STROKE, The graphic, Coequipier y Only TC, on the Internet sites SportsYa!, e-driver.com y kmcero.com and on the radios Rock pop y Vorterix.com. He covered the Dakar rally for the German agency dpa. He currently drives Two Daring Guys, a car magazine that is broadcast on Tuesdays from 18 to 19 by RadioArroba.com; is editor of motorsport in Red Bull Argentina, columnist on the show WorldSport (AM Splendid) and in Surf & Rock FM.  He is also a teacher in SPORTS. Now you can read it on his blog: automundo.com.ar.

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