A cool alternative to the Ferrari 250 SWB

Introduced in 1947, the A6 isn’t your regular car nameplate. Unlike most badges, it was used for a variety of models, including both road-legal and race-spec vehicles, as well as single-seat race cars. Although production lasted ten years, the A6 is a rare gem, especially in A6G 2000 Zagato trim. It’s so rare and desirable that RM Sotheby’s estimates that it will be able to auction one for at least $4.25 million.

Developed to replace the 6CM race car, the A6, in which A is for Alfieri Maserati and 6 for six cylinders, also spawned a road-legal car. The first one to arrive was the A6 1500, but the updated A6G 2000 model was far more successful. In 1954, the A6G 2000 was updated, changing its name to the A6G/54. Originally bodied by Frua and Allemano, the A6G 2000 also received a Zagato body in 1956, a collaboration that resulted in a lighter and more aerodynamic car. Not just beautiful to look at, the Zagato-designed A6G 2000 also had a successful racing career.

This particular model, which will go under the hammer in August 2018, competed at the Mille Miglia in 1956 and it’s one of only 20 cars ever built. Extensively documented by marque historian Adolfo Orsi Jr., it went through a two-year restoration and won two awards at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, plus another one at the 2015 Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza. Yes, this one’s in mint condition and as special as they get, so it’s not surprising that it could fetch in excess of $4 million.

1956 Maserati A6G/2000 Berlinetta Zagato Exterior

  • Zagato bodywork
  • Unique features
  • Wire wheels
  • Aerodynamic roof
  • Classic GT layout
1956 Maserati A6G/2000 Berlinetta Zagato
- image 789688
The Berlinetta Zagato is unique, as this specific model boasts features you won’t find on another A6G

The A6G 2000 received so many bodies and distinct features that it’s very difficult to find two identical models. The Berlinetta Zagato is also unique, as this specific model boasts features you won’t find on another A6G.

The first thing that catches the eye is the front grille, in which the Trident badge was set in an oval ring laid within a more circular ring that was ornamented with dual side spears. Additionally, the vent in the engine hood removed. The round headlamps and the two-piece chrome bumper, a couple of traditional features from the 1950s were retained, but it doesn’t take much to notice that Zagato’s take on the A6G is indeed unique.

1956 Maserati A6G/2000 Berlinetta Zagato
- image 789733
The Italian firm rebuilt the fenders with no flares, opting to go with a more elegant look rather than a race-inspired appearance

Somewhat surprisingly, the Italian firm rebuilt the fenders with no flares, opting to go with a more elegant look rather than the A6’s race-inspired appearance. It also added Borrani wire wheels, while the windshield wipers were mounted in opposite directions. The profile remained familiar and kept the car in the grand touring class as a competitor for the Ferrari 250 SWB, but the front fender vents, the revised rear roof section, and the redesigned rear fenders set it apart from the Frua and Pininfarina models.

The rear fascia is simple and typical for 1950s GTs. There’s a big trunk lid that descends all the way down to the apron, small and oval taillights on each side, and a split chrome bumper. It’s pretty obvious that Zagato wanted to give this race-inspired model a more elegant, subdued look, and I think that the Italians did a great job.

1956 Maserati A6G/2000 Berlinetta Zagato Interior

  • Race-inspired interior
  • Leather seats
  • Two-tone upholstery
  • Heater
  • 2+2 seating layout
1956 Maserati A6G/2000 Berlinetta Zagato
- image 789715
The steering wheel sports the familiar 1950s design with three spokes and a wooden rim

A quick look inside the cabin and you’ll notice that vintage Maseratis aren’t as fancy as the company’s modern vehicles. This isn’t surprising though. This was the norm back in the 1950s when most grand tourers had race-inspired interiors. Sure, there’s leather on the seats, dashboard, and door panels, and the two-tone, white-over-blue color scheme looks inspiring, but the A6G 2000 is no Quattroporte as far as luxury features go.

But, truth be told, the Ferrari 250 SWB wasn’t fancier either, while Aston Martins from the era only had genuine wood as extras. I’ll admit that the white dashboard looks a bit tacky in that glossy finish, but this Maserati still is a nice place to spend time in.

1956 Maserati A6G/2000 Berlinetta Zagato
- image 789692
Despite the race-inspired layout, the seats don’t provide too much lateral support

The instrument panel is standard business, with big gauges on each side of the steering wheel and three more clocks at the top. All are made by Jaegar. The steering wheel sports the familiar 1950s design with three spokes and a wooden rim.

Despite the race-inspired layout, the seats don’t provide too much lateral support. But again, this was the norm 50 years ago, when even the race cars had seats that forced the drivers to struggle while taking fast turns. The only comfort feature inside this car is a Smiths heater, which Maserati added as an optional extra.

1956 Maserati A6G/2000 Berlinetta Zagato Drivetrain

  • 2.0 inline-six engine
  • 160 horsepower
  • 4-speed manual transmission
  • Abarth muffler
  • Racing clutch
  • 130-mph top speed
1956 Maserati A6G/2000 Berlinetta Zagato
- image 789751
While not particularly powerful, the Zagato model was lighter than the other versions, which made it the quickest of the bunch

The original A6G 2000 got its juice from a 2.0-liter inline-six engine, and this unit was retained for the 1954 update. However, Maserati made a few changes. The double overhead camshaft engine was derived from the racing units of the A6GCS and A6GCM and fed by three twin-choke Weber carburetors and a new dual ignition system. The latter helped increase output from 150 to 160 horsepower, which enabled the A6G 2000 hit a top speed of almost 130 mph.

The inline-six used a four-speed manual to sent the power to the rear wheels. The drivetrain was initially fitted with a standard clutch, but this specific car received a racing clutch from the A6GCS competition model. An Abarth muffler rounds out the race-spec upgrades. While it wasn’t particularly powerful, the Zagato model was lighter than the other versions, which made it the quickest of the bunch.

1956 Maserati A6G/2000 Berlinetta Zagato Pricing

1956 Maserati A6G/2000 Berlinetta Zagato
- image 789671

Like most exotics from the 1950s, pricing for the A6G 2000 varies depending on who made the body, what options it came with, and whether it needs restoration or not. Because most of these cars were also driven in road racing events, pricing can vary depending on their racing record. This car here is one of those rare examples that has it all, including all the documentation a proper classic needs. The coupe is expected to fetch between $4.25 million and $5.25 million when it goes public, but other models may cost less than that. We will update this section with more info once the car crosses the auction block.

Racing Heritage

1956 Maserati A6G/2000 Berlinetta Zagato
- image 789756
The car debuted to a class win and second overall finish at the Coupe de Cote Turckheim-Trois Epis hill climb in 1956

While designed as a road car, this Maserati started life as a demonstration car in Milan, Italy, and then it served as a factory race car for a brief period. The coupe was loaned in April 1956 to Luigi Taramazzo, a privateer who ran a Maserati 250F at the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix, for use in the Mille Miglia. Unfortunately, the car slid off the road due to braking issues and had to be returned to the factory for repairs.

Sold to a different owner later that year, the A6G 2000 won a race on the Modena Autodromo and then debuted to a class win and second overall finish at the Coupe de Cote Turckheim-Trois Epis hill climb. It also won the Coupes d’Automne in Montlhery, setting the fastest lap time, and helped Maserati win the Italian Sports Car Championship in 1956.

In 1957, it was entered in the Dakar Route de Quakam, where it was crashed and had to return to Italy for repairs. Although the owner wanted the car ready for the 12 Hours of Reims, 1000km of Nurburgring, and the Tour de France, the Maserati saw just one race that year, at the Coupes du Salon, where it finished sixth overall. This was the car’s final official race.

Conclusion

1956 Maserati A6G/2000 Berlinetta Zagato
- image 789705

There aren’t many sports cars that rival the iconic Ferrari 250 SWB, but the Maserati A6G 2000 Zagato is definitely a solid choice. It has the rarity, the engineering, and the looks. And unlike other grand tourers from the era, it also has an impressive racing pedigree. The fact that the example shown here is a Concours d’elegance winner that has been restored to the last bolt makes things that much better. However, owning such a flawless car requires a fat wallet, the kind you need to purchase a vintage Ferrari.

  • Leave it
    • * Very expensive
    • * Not many available

Further reading

no article
- image 775350

Read more Maserati news.

no article
- image 788858

Read more Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance news.

Source: RM Sotheby’s

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: