This 1960 Maserati Tipo 61 (Serial Number 2459) was the subject of a restoration which began it’s resurrection journey with an avid Maserati collector in Italy and was completed by the marque experts at Steve Hart Racing in the U.K. We are always fascinated by looking at vintage race cars while they are apart because it gives us the rare opportunity to see all of the gorgeous detail work that their original engineers put into making their chassis as rigid and yet lightweight as possible. On these particular Italian competition cars, however, a good chunk of that complex construction is visible even while their alloy body’s skin is still attached. In fact, their space frame chassis’ exposed skeleton is ultimately what earned them their nickname of “Birdcage”.
The ultra light Tipo 61 race cars are powered by 2.89 liter twin cam inline 4’s that produce 250 horsepower. In typical Ferrai/Maserati hierarchy form, they were spec’ed with 50 fewer horsepower than their 250 Testa Rossa bigger siblings, although that didn’t hold this particular car back from achieving the second overall quickest lap time at the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring. Another Tipo 61, driven by Sterling Moss, earned him the quickest lap at that race which he went on to win that year, while unfortunately, this car ended up retiring early with a mechanical failure. In all fairness, this car was sent to compete in the endurance race before any testing was able to be performed, but it did go on to be very successful in North American racing with Walt Hansgen behind the wheel. We found their weight listed as anywhere between 1,300 to 1,649 pounds, depending on where we looked, but what is certain is that Tipo 61’s were produced from 1959 to 1961 and they were the first Maserati race cars to have received 4 wheel disc brakes. In all, 5 different models of Birdcage were made, designed by Giulio Alfieri. Chassis number 2459 was later crashed during practice of the 1962 3 Hour of Continental race at Daytona with Augie Pabst behind the wheel, who then subsequently retired the car for an undisclosed amount of time. The unnamed Italian Maserati collector got his hands on the car in more recent years and then took it upon himself to collect as many of it’s original parts as he could find before beginning it’s restoration. When he was finally satisfied with his stockpile of rare parts, he used them to build it’s engine and then took extreme measures to reconstruct the race car’s complicated frame using original factory drawings and the same secret factory welding process that Maserati factory had originally used. In 2008, he then sent the Maserati Birdcage’s engine and chassis to expert Steve Hart Racing in the UK to complete it’s restoration using both original parts and others that he replicated by using factory drawings and by copying parts from other Tipo 60/61’s that he and his shop had access to. Since it is so commonplace for old race cars to have been wrecked and rebuilt many times over, it is interesting to note while viewing these pictures that the following list of parts are all original Maserati Birdcage pieces: it’s cylinder head, lower crankcase and sump, cam covers, transaxle tower, front hubs, carburetors, rear lights, turn signals, rev counter, ignition switch/light switch, indicator switch and starter button. The restoration shop was able to finally complete the car back to it’s original glory in 2010 and has since received it’s worldwide FIA vintage racing eligibility papers for it’s current U.S. owner. There is only one Birdcage that is said to remain original and unrestored to this day, and that is chassis number 2455. Maybe we will have to track that one down for a future “Survivor Saturday” or “Survivor Sunday” story feature. Until then, find this incredible car here at: