Birdcage Maserati at Auction
RM Auctions’ upcoming Sporting Classics at Monaco event has some stunningly beautiful machines crossing the block. Among them is this drop-dead gorgeous example of the mighty Tipo 61 “Birdcage” Maserati. Beautifully prepared and lovingly photographed, this Birdcage is ready for action.
This example, chassis #2470, was the third from last Birdcage to leave the factory, and boasts a string of wins Stateside and in Europe. Originally delivered to Texas oilman and SCCA president, Jack Hinkle. Despite his status of a wealthy collector that might ordinarily be relegated to the ranks of ‘gentleman racer’, Hinkle drove as hard as the professional racers that shared his grid. He won three of seven entered races with 2470. That’s an excellent season, especially considering that he was on the podium in all of the races the car finished (he had one DNF that season).
After the next owner (Can Am Series co-founder Tracy Bird) suffered a fire in the car, the car’s salvagable chassis was grafted with the chassis of the crashed ex-Roger Penske Birdcage. Ordinarily I don’t like these ‘half of one chassis, half of another’ jobs. But the fact that this repair was made in-period, well within the car’s original life, and is well documented, helps me overlook that. This isn’t one of those ‘started as a 330 America, now’s it’s a GTO’ hatchet jobs.
My favorite bit of history comes from the car’s third life at the hands of Lord Alexander Hesketh. He had Charles Lucas drive the car for a historic race that was the support event for the ’75 Austrian GP. Lucas piloted the Birdcage to a commanding lead. The lead was so strong that Lord Hasketh hung a sign over the pit wall reading “cocktails”. This was no mere celebratory “we’re going to win and celebrate with cocktails later”—it was an invitation. Lucas pulled into the pits for a quick nip, then repassed the field for a win. Mid-race cocktails doesn’t sound like such a good idea now, but the story is simply fantastic.
I’ve long adored these incredibly beautiful machines, both her masterfully designed bodywork and as the pinnacle of the space-frame chassis design. This is one of those machines where when you see her stripped of her panels, she looks even more sophisticated and impressive. The hundreds of thin gauge tubes welded together in an impossibly precise geometry looks part mathematics dissertation, part fighter jet, all mean.
Speaking of mean, the black livery on this example is intimidating. It’s so imposing that even though it hides the incredible lines of the bodywork, even though my heart wants it back in her original red-orange factory color, even though it somehow makes this outstanding machine recede into the background when one the grid with her fellow Italian machines—despite all of these very good reasons to repaint—I’d keep her as is. She’s just so damn bad-ass looking. She could be none more black.
More information and photos on the lot detail page.