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Coachwork by Zagato
Displayed at the 2014 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’EsteMille Miglia Motors Inc., San Francisco, California (acquired new in 1956)Frank H. Fraine, San Diego, California (acquired by 1959)Frank Jay Hoke, Tucson, Arizona (acquired from the above in April 1959)Bob Baker, Scottsdale, Arizona (acquired from the above in 1967)Joe Alphabet, Los Angeles, California (acquired from the above in 1986)Gary Roberts, Newport Beach, California (acquired from the above in March 2001)Daniel Ghose, Connecticut (acquired from the above in March 2001)Dr. Rüdiger Stihl, Stuttgart, Germany (acquired from the above in 2002)Claudio Scalise, Argentina (acquired from the above in 2007)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
Concorso Italiano, Carmel Valley, California, August 1986Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, Cernobbio, Italy, May 2014 (Maserati 100th Anniversary Exhibit)Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari, Modena, Italy, 2014Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille, Chantilly, France, September 2014 (Best in Class)The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, Carmel Valley, California, August 2016
The A6G/54, unveiled at the Paris Auto Show in 1954, represented the ultimate evolution of the A6 series, Maserati’s first postwar sports car. Developed from the highly successful A6GCS sports racing cars and the earlier single-cam A6 road car, the A6G/54 was an exclusive gran turismo; its fine engineering and exquisite attention to detail embodied the very best qualities of the Maserati marque.
Based on a lightweight tube-frame chassis, the A6G/54 borrowed a variety of features from the A6GCS, including many of its race-proven braking, steering, and suspension components. At the heart of the car was a gorgeous, all-aluminum twin-cam six-cylinder engine that Gioacchino Colombo had originally developed for racing. In order to create a more civilized dual-purpose car, Maserati engineer Vittorio Bellentani altered the original design, implementing wet sump lubrication, chain-driven camshafts, and a revised valve train.
Equipped with three Weber 40 DCO3 carburetors, and available with an optional twin-plug cylinder head, the A6G/54 was among the best performing sports cars of its era. Famed automotive journalist Hans Tanner, in testing an A6G/54 for Motor Racing, found that the new Maserati offered “instantaneous acceleration, faultless roadholding and excellent handling.”
In typical Maserati practice, several different body styles were commissioned for the A6G/54 chassis. While Allemano and Frua offered luxurious bodies designed for road use, Carrozzeria Zagato of Milan constructed a series of berlinettas out of lightweight aluminum for customers who demanded that their Maserati be capable of winning races.
In total, 21 Zagato Berlinettas were built during 1955 and 1956, with the limited production distinguished by at least three distinct body styles. These Maseratis were potent, well-rounded sports cars, and they excelled in the two-liter GT category. With competition primarily in the form of Zagato-bodied Fiat 8Vs and Alfa Romeo 1900s, the A6G/54 Berlinettas were frequently raced in Italian hill climbs and major events such as the Mille Miglia.
The car presented here, chassis 2186, is a late-production A6G/54 and the last Zagato Berlinetta built. Charles Rezzaghi ordered the car for his dealership, Mille Miglia Motors Inc. of San Francisco, which also dealt in Alfa Romeo, OSCA, and Ferrari automobiles.
The rolling chassis of 2186 was delivered to Carrozzeria Zagato on September 4, 1956, and the car returned to Modena painted red and trimmed in white with contrasting red piping. As completed, this car possessed all the aesthetic details that define the final series of Zagato Berlinettas: a larger, more rectangular grille, vertical air vents in the front quarter panel, curvaceous rear fenders, two separate hood scoops, aluminum bumperettes, and a distinctive oval instrument layout with beautiful Jaeger gauges. There were approximately nine Zagato-bodied A6G/54s produced in this general style, and it can be considered the definitive version, as it was used to illustrate the model in Maserati factory literature.
Completed on October 31, 1956, chassis 2186 was shipped to California along with two other A6G/54s. Upon its arrival in the US, the Maserati was illustrated in the May 1957 issue of Motor Trend and, by 1959, it had come into the possession of Frank Fraine, the proprietor of Trans World Motors in San Diego. Mr. Fraine entered the Maserati in a sports car race in Pomona and advertised it for sale in the February 1959 issue of MotoRacing magazine. The car sold quickly, for $4,061.05, to Frank Jay Hoke from Tucson, Arizona.
Hoke was an amateur racer who planned to drive his new Maserati in competition. He had the bumpers removed, the bodywork painted dark gray, and raced it in events throughout the central US. In an article in the April 1981 issue of Viale Ciro Menotti, Maserati enthusiast George Cox reported that Hoke won the E-Modified Midwest Division in 1961.
After he retired the car from racing, Hoke replaced the Maserati’s straightsix engine with a Buick V-8, painted the car silver to match his single-seat formula race car, and reupholstered the interior in black vinyl. In this form, he advertised the car for sale in the November 18, 1967, issue of Autoweek, asking $2,750. The car was then sold to Bob Baker of Scottsdale, Arizona, who also owned another A6G/54, chassis 2122.
In May 1986, Mr. Baker sold 2186 to Maserati enthusiast Joe Alphabet of Los Angeles. Some years later, Mr. Alphabet acquired an Allemano-bodied A6G/54, chassis 2175; he removed its engine and installed it in 2186. He later sold 2175 without a motor.
During Mr. Alphabet’s ownership, the Maserati remained in a perpetual state of restoration, with work progressing slowly. In 2001, he sold the still-unrestored A6G/54 to Gary Roberts and the car changed hands once more before being acquired by Dr. Rüdiger Stihl of Stuttgart, Germany. Dr. Stihl had Herbi Allemann of Gersau, Switzerland, complete the restoration and, in June 2007, sold the car to noted Argentine collector Claudio Scalise.
In the meantime, the Maserati’s original engine (numbered 2186, internal no. 98) had found its way to Roberto Gorni, an Italian collector who had purchased chassis 2175 from the US. Early in 2008, with the assistance of Maserati historian Walter Bäumer, Mr. Gorni and Mr. Scalise agreed to exchange their engines, thereby returning both 2186 and 2175 to their original configuration.
Having secured the car’s original engine, Mr. Scalise then had the Maserati re-restored by Carrozzeria Quality Cars of Vigonza, Italy. This firm, known for their authentic restorations of rare Italian sports cars, returned 2186 to its original splendor, with great attention paid to original finishes and detail.
In May 2014, no. 2186 was unveiled at the prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, where it was displayed in a special class celebrating Maserati’s 100th anniversary. From there, the car was invited to take part in a special exhibition, curated by Maserati historian Dr. Aldolfo Orsi Jr., honoring the marque at the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari in Modena. In September 2014, the A6G/54 was displayed at Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille in France and was awarded Best in Class in the Maserati GT category. Acquired by the current owner soon after, the Maserati has only been exhibited on one other occasion – at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, in August 2016.
In keeping with its impeccable presentation, 2186 is offered with an impressive file of documentation that includes copies of the Maserati build sheets and delivery note, period photos, correspondence, restoration records, and a report prepared by Dr. Orsi.
The A6G/54, one of Maserati’s most celebrated road-going models, is among the most desirable Italian sports cars of the 1950s. Due to their inimitable style, outstanding dynamic qualities, and mechanical sophistication, these Maseratis have long been the preferred choice of connoisseurs and compare favorably to contemporary offerings from other sports car manufacturers.
With just 21 examples built, the Zagato-bodied A6G/54 is a rare breed. These extraordinary automobiles rarely appear for sale, either at auction or privately, as most are fixtures in major collections. This particular example, with its well-documented history, matching-numbers engine, and exquisite restoration, possesses all of the qualities one looks for in a classic Maserati.