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1961 Maserati Tipo 63

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History

 
 

Maserati, chassis number 63.002, was originally constructed as a four cylinder, short nose and short wheelbase racing car. It was originally supplied to the Briggs Cunningham racing team. Chassis #63.002 raced at Sebring in March, 1961, with drivers Walt Hansgen and Bruce Mclaren behind the wheel. Hansgen later had an accident with the car at the LeMans pre-24 Hour trials.

After repairs, modifications, and the installation of a V-12 engine, the car returned to LeMans for the 24 Hour race in 1961. At the hands of Augie Pabst and Dick Thompson, #63.002 finished 4th.

After the race, in July, 1961, Cunningham returned #63.002 to the Maserati factory for modifications. Pabst and Thompson had complained during LeMans that #63.002 was too cramped in the cockpit area with the larger, V-12, engine in place. As a result, Maserati replaced the short wheelbase frame and body with a new, long wheelbase frame and body. They re-fit the engine and suspension bits, and put the 63.002 chassis tag onto the new frame. The old frame and body were left in a scrap pile.

The new, long wheelbase, #63.002 was returned to Cunningham in August, 1961. In September, the Cunningham team raced the car at the Road America 500. Dick Thompson again was the driver, this time sharing the driving chores with Bill Kimberly. The car ran the race as #62 but suffered carburetion problems and finished 9th.

Maserati #63.002 was entered in the Fall races at Riverside and Laguna in 1961, but did not compete due to engine problems. Cunningham sent the car back to the Maserati factory at the end of the 1961 racing season. There, Maserati made some rear suspension modifications before sending the car back to Cunningham in the U.S.

In 1962, the Cunningham team did not race #63.002. Instead, #63.002 was sold to Harry Finer in Southern California. Bob Harris attempted to qualify the car for the Fall races at Riverside, as did Billy Krause at Laguna Seca. Neither qualified.

Thereafter, the car was used in motion pictures, making an appearance in a racing scene in the Elvis Presley movie, "Viva Las Vegas". The Maserati has also been discussed in The Postwar Sports Racing Cars by Joel Finn.

There are currently two other known cars/owners with claims to the #63.002 heritage. One is an owner claiming to have purchased the original frame and body of #63.002 that was raced at LeMans but thrown in a scrap heap at the Maserati factory in 1961 when the car received its long wheelbase frame and body replacement. This purchase is claimed to have taken place in 1990. The other car is the ex-Cunningham Tipo 64.002, which also has had a #63.002 chassis plate on it. It is not presently known why #64.002 ever had a #63.002 chassis plate on it.

Maserati #63.002 is presently in fully restored and race-ready condition. It is in its proper Cunningham white with blue stripes livery. The car can be seen later this summer running at select vintage racing events, such as the Monterey Historics, featuring Maserati.

 
     
 

Description

 
 

Maserati #63.002 is comprised of a "birdcage" multi-tube frame, shrouded in an aluminum body. It rides on 16X6 Rayons wire wheels at the front and 16X16.5 Rayons wire wheels at the rear. Brakes are by aluminum three piston calipers and solid disc. Suspension is independent front and rear with telescopic shock absorbers.

The rebuilt 2978 litre Maserati V-12 engine is fired by 24 spark plugs and fed by an electric fuel pump. Carburetion is by 35 DCNL Weber carburetors. The V-12 is mated to a Maserati 5 speed gearbox.


Chassis Number: 63.002
Engine Number: N/A

 
       
 

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