The Fratelli Maserati are woven into the very fabric of Italian motorsport history. Highly respected as engineers, designers, drivers, and team managers, motorsport was their first and only love, and, like Enzo Ferrari, they only saw road cars as a means to an end. Despite being involved in racing since the 1920s, it was not until a partnership with financier Adolfo Orsi that the Maserati brothers designed a purpose-built road car – the A6 1500 of 1947. It was the only road car designed by the brothers under their name, as they parted ways with Orsi at the end of 1947 to form O.S.C.A. and concentrate on motorsport.
The A6 1500 was a jewel of a machine, born from Maserati’s vast competition experience. While it was sold and marketed as a Grand Touring road car, it was well-suited to sporting duty, and many were raced in-period. At the heart of the A6 was a 1500-cc overhead cam inline-six, fed by a single Weber carburetor. Output was a modest 65 horsepower, though lightweight coachwork kept the mass well below 1000 kg. On the subject of coachwork, the A6 was initially shown with a radical, if slightly awkward, Pinin Farina body with faired-in headlamps and a sharply truncated roofline. When production began in earnest, the legendary coachbuilder offered a restrained yet breathtakingly beautiful 2+2 coupe design. Minimally adorned yet with sophisticated form, the Pinin Farina A6 set a benchmark for sports car design through the 50s and 60s.
The A6 1500 offered here, chassis 086, is from the midpoint of the 61 cars built between 1947 and 1951. It wears Pinin Farina’s gorgeous 2+2 fastback coachwork, which, like the Cisitalia 202, is a masterpiece of mid-century design. Chassis 086 boasts a fascinating history and is particularly notable for being the first production Maserati equipped with triple Weber carburetors. It is the first of an estimated ten A6 1500s fitted with the optional competition engine and is one of just two known survivors. Maserati did much more than simply bolt two additional carbs to the head. Modifications included high-compression pistons, a revised camshaft profile, and reinforcements cast into the aluminum and magnesium cylinder blocks. The enhancements significantly raised power from the single-carbureted base version from 65 to a very handy 90 horsepower. While standard cars have been updated to triple carburetors over the years, the engine differences set this car apart from modified versions.
Production records and period correspondence show chassis 086 went to Pinin Farina’s shop on December 11, 1948, for its coachwork and returned to Maserati in July 1949 for final evaluation by the factory’s famed chief test driver, Guerino Bertocchi. On September 14, chassis 086 was consigned to Peppino Santi of Rome, and just one day later, invoiced to the first owner on record: Isabella Quarantotti, an aristocratic Italian writer and playwright living in Paris. Although registered in Italy at Ms. Quarantotti’s residence in Positano, her fabulous new Maserati was delivered to a garage in Paris where she lived with her future (ex) second husband, English poet Alexander Ronald “Alec” Smith. It was likely Smith’s idea to buy the Maserati, as he was a well-known motoring enthusiast. Letters from the ACO reveal Quarantotti and Smith explored entering the Maserati into the 18th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, which would have made 086 the first Maserati to race at Le Mans; however, it was not to be, and they never completed the process. Their relationship fizzled soon after.
After her divorce from Smith, SIG.RA Quarantotti kept the Maserati, though used it sparingly as the high-compression engine required expensive and scarce racing fuel. In late December 1950, it was acquired by Donatello Mennini of Prato, Italy – a textiles entrepreneur, champion skier, and soccer player. Maserati records indicate that Mr. Mennini returned the car to the factory for servicing, and by April 1952, sold it to Celestina Basini of Firenze. Accompanying documents show that on July 12, 1953, U.S. Army officer Larry James Pichichero of Ohio, who was stationed in Livorno, registered the Maserati in his name. Taking advantage of his new high-performance Maserati, Pichichero entered several races, with his friend and fellow Army officer, Thomas “Tony” Martin, taking on driving duties. The first of these races was the 2nd Salita del Castellaccio on September 20, 1953, followed by the 1st Coppa Commandante Giovanni Braccini at Saline di Volterra a week later. A period photo from the latter event shows the A6 in parc ferme with some serious company including an Abarth 205, Ferrari 212 Europa, and various etceterini.
In late 1957, California gunsmith Ernest Nanson was vacationing in Italy and spotted 086 on a sales lot. Mr. Nanson imported the A6 to the U.S. and lovingly maintained the car during his 22-year ownership. William McKinley later commissioned a complete restoration by Brian Moore’s Performance Painting in nearby Rancho Cordova. The Maserati was thoroughly refurbished and refinished in ruby red from its original light gray.
Chassis 086 subsequently competed in the Monterey Historics in August 1983, and the following June, it took home Best of Show and the People’s Choice Award at the 6th Maserati International Meet at Lake Tahoe. The A6 passed through several owners over the following decades, including Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan and the Blackhawk Collection. Chassis 086 was also featured in The Great Book of Sports Cars, representing Maserati’s first hand-built road cars. After a change of ownership, it took part in the 2006 Mille Miglia Retro.
After the Mille, it was treated to a more comprehensive nut-and-bolt restoration, with final assembly performed by the highly regarded shop at Steel Wings. Restorers stripped the Maserati completely down and meticulously reassembled it with a fine eye toward authenticity. The richly textured fabric and leather cabin was refinished to an exceptional standard by the Pebble Beach award-winning trimmer Gary Maucher. In the end, the intensely researched restoration cost $350,000. The car is authentically detailed, and the only deviations from original specs are the lovely ruby red paint color and the fitment of sparkling Borrani wire wheels. However, the original Maserati CABO bimetal wheels (incorporating a steel disc with aluminum rims) are included, along with Blockley tires and proper hubs.
The lifetime of care invested in this 1949 Maserati A6 1500/3C is apparent in its elegant presentation. It remains in superb condition throughout, with jewel-like detailing of the body, engine compartment, and interior. Eligible for the Mille Miglia, it would undoubtedly be welcomed at any number of classic tours and vintage competition events while also being fit for the concours lawn. Offered with the aforementioned additional set of wheels, as well as tools, spares, restoration records, and a comprehensive file detailing its lengthy and illustrious history, this significant Maserati awaits a new owner ready to write its next fascinating chapter.
Offers welcome and trades considered