The Famous Maserati Birdcage Tipo 61, #2459 car was built for road racing pioneer Briggs Cunningham. Upon completion on February 27th, 1960, the gorgeous red vehicle was sent to Queens, New York, to the shop of Team Cunningham’s chief mechanic, Alfred Momo. His facilities were without equal anywhere in the world. The Momo crew could build, make, or repair anything that raced.
Soon after Momo received the car from the factory, the team took the vehicle to the 12-hours of Sebring endurance race at Sebring International Raceway. Having just arrived at the shop, it had not been thoroughly tested. Driven by racing legend Walt Hansgen, the car experienced multiple mechanical problems and did not finish. It did, however, post the second fastest lap time at the race. The fastest lap time was posted by another Tipo 61 driven by Stirling Moss. So, both of the top two lap speeds were by Maserati Birdcage.
THE MARVELOUS TIPO 61 RACING CAR
|Cylinders: 4 in line||Front Track: 1250 mm (50 in)|
|Bore & Stroke: 93.8 mm x 73.6 mm (3.7 in x 2.9 in)||Rear Track: 1200 mm (48 in)|
|Displacement: 1989 cc (119.3 cu in)||Kerb Weight: 585 kg (1287 lb)|
|Compression Ratio: 9.8:1||Overall length: 3800mm (152 in)|
|Maximum BHP: 200||Overall width: 1500mm (60 in)|
|Maximum RPM: 7800||Overall height: 900mm (36 in)|
|Maximum Speed: 240 kph (144mph)||Fuel Capacity: 120 litres (26.4 gals)|
|Wheelbase: 2200 (88 in)||Tyre Size: 5.50 x 16 front / 6.00 x 16 rear|
After the car was tested properly, Hansgen was very successful in the Tipo 61. First place at Cumberland, Md., Bridgehampton, N.Y., and Montgomery, N.Y., in 1960. He usually had the fastest car and – unless he had a mechanical failure – always won (See complete Race history).
At the end of each racing season, Alfred Momo’s shop rebuilt the car for the next season. On February 11, 1962, August Papst cracked up the car on a practice run. Momo’s team dismantled it and sent parts to England. As we all know, race cars of this era were repeatedly wrecked and rebuilt. In fact, according to Joel E. Finn’s book “Maserati Birdcage,” which is the most accurate record of the 22 Birdcages that were produced, only one, number 2455, remains in totally original condition.
Expert opinions are available on this car. Among them are that of Richard Crump, the author of many Maserati books. The full disclosure on this car even includes the list of original parts as verified by the restoration facility.
Many years later a famous Maserati collector, with help from original factory drawings, reconstructed the frame, which consisted of over 200 small-diameter, chrome-molybdenum steel tubes of varying lengths and thicknesses. The welding process requires a special gas and seems to be only known to Italian body builders. This unique process allowed the Tipo 60 & 61 to be built with an all-aluminum body.
The 4-cylinder engine was specially designed to fit in this car, which is only 36 inches tall. A correct Birdcage 2-litre engine was rebuilt with an original cylinder head, lower crankcase, sump, transaxle, cam covers and carburetors.
The frame and engine were delivered to England in 2008, where restoration was completed using primarily existing, original parts. The rest of the parts were built from original factory drawings or copied from other authentic Tipo 60/61 parts. The fuel tank is a new safety cell. The restoration facility has extensive knowledge of any factory modifications, which were also performed on this car.
The following is a complete list of original parts as verified by the restoration facility:
The Tipo 61, #2459 was completed and the necessary documentation was submitted in March 2010 by the restoration facility to Motor Sports Association United Kingdom, the Technical Department for Federation Internationale De L’Automobile (FIA). After inspection by the FIA, the car was shipped to the U.S. owner in April 2010. Upon final approval from FIA on August 27, 2010, the restoration facility received the official Historic Technical Passport document for this Maserati, which was then forwarded to the U.S. owner.
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Historical Overview of Maserati Tipo 61/60 #2459 and complete Racing History of Maserati Birdcage #2459
The Maserati Tipo 60/61 Birdcage is a light and powerful sports racer produced between 1959 and 1960. It exhibits superb aerodynamics. It has a great power-to-weight ratio, with a perfect 50/50 weight distribution front-to-back, independent front suspension, 4-wheel disc brakes, De Dion tube in front of a 5-speed transaxle made of electron, which is a special aluminum alloy.
The nickname “Birdcage” is due to the intricate, tubular frame and chassis made up of approximately 200 small-diameter, chrome-molybdenum steel tubes of varying lengths and thicknesses welded together through a unique and highly guarded Italian process. This design was engineered by Giulio Alfieri in five different models, the most popular being the Tipo 60 and the Tipo 61.
Full Story: Historical Overview of Maserati Birdcage 2459
After the car was tested properly, the Tipo 61 #2459 was very successful in most races. First place at Cumberland, Md. Bridgehampton, N.Y., and Montgomery, N.Y., in 1960. It was usually the fastest car, and unless there was a mechanical failure, always won. At the end of each racing season, Momo’s shop rebuilt the car for the next season.
Full Story: Racing History Maserati Birdcage 2459
Maserati Tipo 61/60 Birdcage 2459 underwent an extensive, precise, detailed restoration. Read the full story below for a complete detailed accounting of the restoration for Maserati Birdcage #2459 is outlined in the following.
Full Story: Restoration Details of Maserati Birdcage 2459
Upon completion of the the restoration, Maserati Tipo 61/60 Birdcage 2459 was submitted to the Motor Sports Association in April, 2010, who carried out an extensive inspection. The Maserati Tipo 61/60 Birdcage 2459 passed the inspection and the new owners were issued the Historic Technical Passport/FIA Class:TSRC4 Document on August 27, 2010. A copy of that document can be viewed here.