Only 27 of the stunning Maserati Tipo 6CM were ever built but the single-seated Italian thoroughbred has a rich history few can match.
The Italian marque is celebrating an octagenarian anniversary of Milan born Luigi “Gigi” Villoresi’s impressive win at the illustrious 1939 Targa Florio at the wheel of the Maserati Tipo 6CM.
Racing driver Villoresi was victorious at the Parco Della Favorita circuit in Palermo, Sicily on May 14th 1939 by covering the race’s 40 laps, totalling 228 km, in 1:40.15.4. Luigi Villoresi also recorded the fastest lap in the race with the time of 0:02.24.6, averaging 141.908 km/h. Piero Taruffi and Guido Franco Barbieri finished second and third, also in Maserati Tipo 6CM cars.
Although the Italians had been successful 1937 and 1938 editions, taking the first three places in both years, it was 1939 that confirmed Maserati as the undisputed kings of the Sicilian outing. Luigi Villoresi also finished first in the 1940 edition, driving a Maserati Tipo 4CL.
Named after entrepreneur Vincenzo Florio, the now-famous Targa Florio is now one of the oldest races in the world. First organised by Florio in 1906, a total of 62 races were staged between 1906 and 1977 (World Wars omitted). Held in the month of May on the sometimes difficult and winding roads of Sicily, the event was a magnet for local enthusiasts who were often seen jumping out in front of the brave pilots.
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Maserati Tipo 6CM
The Maserati Tipo 6CM was a single-seated racer designed in 1935 by Ernesto Maserati and was a fairly conventional racing car for its time. Where it became less conventional and more innovative was the straight-six engine with cylinders cast in the same block as the head and arranged in pairs on the same elektron crankcase. Twin overhead-camshafts were driven by a rising gear chain, 2 valves per cylinder and a Roots volumetric supercharger, providing a maximum power of 175 HP.
It’s ground-breaking chassis with the usual ladder frame, had a suspension arrangement that boasted torsion bar springs mounted in a way that tension could be carefully tuned and adjusted to the exact road conditions that were being tackled at any specific time.
Aerodynamics included rounded styling with a succession of unique side panels and more slanted nose following the in-depth research throughout its construction years. Supremacy was achieved in 1938 when it triumphed over the formidable British ERA cars that had always been the Italian constructors’ most dreaded rivals.
The same year also saw the debut of Alfa Romeo’s famous Alfetta, created for the Vetturette Grand Prix competitions. However, to the Maserati Brothers’ great satisfaction, that year the Tipo 6CM also defeated the Alfetta at the Pescara GP.
Success never eluded this Italian supercar with the Maserati Tipo 6CM still retaining the record for the most edition wins at the Targa Florio, with three victories in 1937, 1938 and 1939.
The Maserati Tipo 6CM, perfectly restored to its original livery, is now held in Modena and belongs to the Panini Collection.
Key technical features of the Tipo 6CM:
Engine: vertical straight-six
Displacement: 1,493.2 cc
Power: 155-175 hp at 6,200-6,600 rpm
Transmission: Four speeds + reverse
Chassis: 2 chassis beams with steel cross-members, aluminium bodywork
Weight: 650 kg
Top speed: 210-230 km/h