“Everything about it was pure racing car, the steering being light and positive, the short gear-lever, operating in an open gate, being a joy to use… without exceeding 5,500rpm (98mph), we soon discovered that we were averaging a higher speed round the course than we had done in practice last year with a 300 SL Mercedes-bBenz when using a maximum of 130mph… “our running time since leaving Brescia would have put us third in the 2.0-litre gran turismo category had we been in last year’s race with this car, and this was open roads, in and out of traffic.” - Writing
in motor sport, veteran
journalist Denis Jenkinson describes pre-event practice for the 1956 Mille Miglia alongside Stirling Moss in a Maserati A6G/54
The Maserati A6G/54 2000 Berlinetta By Zagato
The 1953 A6GCS Twin-Cam (or Maserati Sports 2000) was a highly
successful customer two-seat racing car designed by ex-Alfa Romeo
and Ferrari engineer Gioachino Colombo. Heavily based on the Trident’s
F2 car, it used the same six-cylinder motor
carburettors, dry sump, alloy block, twin plugs, twin cams
running on regular petrol rather than methanol.
Some 50 were produced and in the two-litre class it was almost unbeatable
thanks to fine handling and a crackling, high-compression ’six to which
arch-rival Ferrari had no effective answer.
In 1954, Maserati developed the concept of the A6GCS for high-performance
road car use and supplied chassis complete with updated – now
wet-sump, but still twin-cam and mostly
twin-plug – 1,986cc engines, along with sophisticated coachbuilding by Frua,
Allemano and Zagato. The first two produced elegant, fast and luxurious
GTs, while Zagato concentrated on racing berlinettas for the
well-heeled sportsmen of the day. The new A6G/54 was the last short-run
Maserati before the introduction of the Trident’s first production
car, the 3500 GT in 1957. In total, 60 were built from late 1954 to
early 1957, including one spyder and 20 competition berlinettas by Zagato.
With chassis from Gilco, the cars were race-bred and advanced for their time:
independent front suspension by double wishbones and coil springs;
a live rear axle suspended on quarter-elliptical leaf springs.
Houdaille hydraulic dampers were fitted all round. Braking was by radially vented large drums front and rear.
After single ignition was used on the early cars, most racing A6G/54 2000s had
12-plug heads. Triple 40DC03 Weber carburettors fed the potent
engine that at its outer limits produced some 190bhp.
The typically Zagato, hand-beaten coachwork was different on each car, although
it followed the same principle: an aggressive grille with big Maserati
trident, open headlamps, abrupt tail and low roofline. Few – if any –
cars bore a double-bubble roof from new. Bumpers
varied from full width, to small, quarter bumperettes and, while most carried a
‘spine’ that ran down the bonnet to the top of the grille, some did not.
Likewise, bonnet air-intakes ranged from one to two to none, and
instrument panels could be made to plush production car standards or
only fit for a stripped-out racer.
Every A6G/54 2000 Zagato was a testament to the coachbuilder’s art, an
aggressive machine meant to be raced hard and fast andmost, like this car,
This Motor Car
Working with available records, research by marque
historian Dr Adolfo Orsi and indisputable evidence from the Automobile Club
d’Italia (the Italian registration authority, ‘ACI’), we understand the early history
of chassis 2155 to be as follows.
On 15 April 1956 Maserati sent a bare chassis by Gilco
to Carrozzeria Zagato of Milan. Zagato returned the finished car on 15 May
1956, painted red with blue upholstery. The Maserati build sheet dated 19 May
1956 confirms the following:
Marelli ST 111 DTEM distributor for 12-plug, twin-ignition cylinder head
Triple Weber DCO3 carburettors
Borrani wire wheels with Pirelli 6.00 x 16in tyres
On 30 May 1956 a certificate of origin was issued and
the first owner, Roberto Federici of Rome, registered the car in his home city
‘ROMA 258154’. An invoice was raised for Lire 3,303,210, dated 15 June 1956.
Verified by ACI records, the next owner was Gianfranco
Peduzzi of Olgiate Comasco, Como, who bought the car on 10 July 1956. The
following day it was registered locally as ‘CO 53256’. Anna Maria Peduzzi, also
of Como, was an early driver for Scuderia Ferrari in the 1930s, Peduzzi himself
a connoisseur of fine cars who owned an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 in the 1930s.
A letter on file dated 29 April 1957 (possibly from a
mechanic) to Peduzzi stated that his car would be “ready this week”. On 10 June
1957, ‘2155’ was entered in the Trieste-Opicina hillclimb as race number 138,
driven by future owner Natale Gotelli.
At some point later that year the car must have been
returned to the factory, as a letter dated 11 November 1957 notified Maserati
that the car had been crashed by a “Mr Zagato”. Later correspondence from
Zagato to Maserati confirmed that Gianni Zagato had crashed the “ex-Peduzzi” car
after only 100km of running-in, and that they had to redo the body. The
Milanese coachbuilder made amends, reworking ‘2155’ in forward thinking and excitingly
fresh coachwork bearing the company’s famous ‘double-bubble’ roofline.
The period rebody by Zagato makes this car unique, and
it should be noted that it is one of no more than two or three genuine Maserati
A6G/54 2000 Berlinetta ‘double-bubbles’.
ACI paperwork reveals a brief change of ownership to
Carla Calzeroni in May 1958, who might well have been an agent, or
deposit-maker. On 26 May 1958 another letter from Zagato presses Maserati for a
completion date on the rebuilt car, so that it can be ready before the weekend
– the Tuscan Coppa della Consuma hillclimb – to keep the “new buyer” happy.
Further communication confirms the new buyer is actually a Sig. Gotelli and
during this period the car was seen in Milan with its new coachwork, ‘CO 53256’ plates and a lady sitting in it. We suspect the lady
was Maria Pallotti, the wife of Natale Gotelli.
As was common practice at the time, the car was bought
in Pallotti’s name, and then registered ‘GE 110384’ (Genoa) on 27 June 1958.
Natale Gotelli immediately entered it in two Italian speed events: 6 July
Bolzano-Mendola hillclimb, 9th overall; 13 July Trento-Bondone hillclimb, 6th
Tough the sale was not officially recorded until
two years later, evidence suggests that at some point in 1958 ‘2155’ was bought
by Gianfranco Bonetto. He continued to campaign it with Genoa plates the
following year. On 28 June 1959, as race number 44, Bonetto finished 11th
overall at the Gran Premio della Lotteria di Monza motor race – the famous
‘Monza lottery’. In September Bonetto suffered a DNF at the Monza Coppa
Intereuropa, but on the 20th of that month finished 3rd at the
On 17 October 1960 the car was officially sold to
Gianfranco Bonetto and registered under his name in Alessandria, ‘AL 78650’.
Three further Italian nationals are known to have owned chassis 2155 before its
purchase by noted US collector John Bookout Jr at auction in December 2000.
In Mr Bookout’s ownership, chassis 2155 was sent to
Italy for a comprehensive restoration by the acknowledged experts of the Modena
region: Bacchelli and Villa for body and paintwork; trimming by Maieli; and a
mechanical overhaul including engine and gearbox rebuilds at Candini, the
world’s leading marque specialist. The work was overseen by Dr Adolfo Orsi and,
once completed, chassis 2155 was proudly shown at the 2005 Concorso d’Eleganza
Villa d’Este and several concours in the US.
Our client bought the car in late 2008 and it joined a
standard-setting collection of post-War European classics. Since then, it was
displayed at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance where it came third in
class and shown at The Quail in 2010. In August 2014, the A6G/54 Zagato
returned to Pebble Beach for Maserati’s centennial celebration.
In recent years, Paul Russell & Co – one of the
world’s most revered restoration companies and the winner of countless concours
trophies – has tended to ‘2155’, finessing the work completed in Italy at a
cost of $378,149.
Today, totally ‘on the button’ and ready for action,
chassis 2155 is a rare chance to buy one of the true greats of 1950s Italian
coachbuilding. Matching numbers, the subject of superlative work by Paul
Russell and others, this is an opportunity not to be missed.