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First Peek with Rusty Hurley Edition Date


Overview The Model
Rusty Hurley
Rusty Hurley

"The finest front-engined sports-racing car ever built."
- Stirling Moss


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By the mid-fifties in the aftermath of the tragic 24 hours of Le Mans in 1955, the sports car racing found itself struggling. Many works teams either quit or de-emphasized their racing programs. Maserati withdrew its works team in 1957 in the face of plunging profits.

If you believe in the proposition that every problem presents an opportunity then Maserati Technical Director Giulio Alfieri was your kind of guy. He proposed, a light, space frame based car called the Tipo 60 Birdcage. If they could not afford to sustain a works team, they would build this as a client car that had a market waiting for it.

The Tipo 60 took the world by storm, with Stirling Moss piloting one to a victory in its inaugural run at Rouen in 1959. In America, Gus Audrey would win the 1960 SCCA championship in one. But the Tipo 60 developed a mixed reputation: It always would fly to the front – leading every race - yet it would inevitably be in the pits usually crippled by some problem in the drive train, gearbox, diff or suspension.

Maserati responded by making changes, including boring out the slant mounted engine and adding bigger Girling brakes. The extra weight was more than compensated for with better reliability and more horsepower which resulted in the Tipo 61. In America, Roger Penske won the SCCA championship in 1961 and a host of other client teams featuring the likes of Jim Hall and Carroll Shelby raced them.

On the world racing stage, Maserati partnered with several client teams, the most notable being Casner Motor Racing Division or CAMORADI team headed up by Lucky Casner. For the 1960 Nurburing 1000km, he put together a driving team featuring the legendary Moss along with newcomer Dan Gurney. Together, they would take a Tipo 61 Birdcage to probably its single most famous victory in spite of losing a significant amount of time to repair a broken oil line.


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  The Model

The model arrives from CMC with the usual tight, Styrofoam coffin packaging. The CMC Birdcage comes with a small pamphlet and a cleaning cloth. Nothing terribly fancy but like the model itself clean, lean and precise. The model sheds the packaging easily.

The feel of this model is different from the Ferrari 250 SWB. While I complained that that model had a fragile quality to it, this model actually feels solid though not overly hefty. Nothing is likely to come apart like the wheel assembly on my 250 SWB did.

The snow white paint is applied without a hint of a tool mark or orange peel – the blue striping and tampo markings stand out crisply against this canvas. The streamlined, low-slung shape is stunning to look at in your hand or on a surface or turntable.

Open the locks on the tethered front bonnet and you’ll see the secret to the Tipo 61’s success. While at their core most sports cars of the age is a tub on which you hung parts, the Tipo 61 skeleton is a space frame construction made up of 200 separate parts on a lightweight platform. This combination led to a significant weight advantage, especially compared to the previous Maserati 450S. While the 450S was a brute, the handling was never what it needed to be in the corners. The Birdcage on the other hand, was svelte yet rigid. It had power to burn and excellent fuel mileage – a killer combination especially in endurance racing or hill climbs.

The windscreen is large, so with the bonnet open much of the space frame is exposed. It is ingenious how CMC has engineered this frame. Welding points are slightly swollen and there are individual rivets and braces holding the frame to the platform. If there ever was a model deserving of the rolling chassis treatment made famous by Exoto, this is a prime candidate. It is the execution of the space frame that gives this model it’s already nonpareil reputation though one wishes similar provisions were made to view the chassis of this model as there were for CMC’s W154.

Nestled in the frame is the 250hp (yes, that’s it) mounted at a 45 degree angle to maintain a low center of gravity. The 2.9-liter four cylinder DOHC 250S engine features two Weber 45 DCO3 carburetors. The model has all wires, plumbing and linkages precisely replicated. Outstanding details include the oil system with functional cap, individual rivets on the valve cover and tiny springs in the throttle linkage. Every clamp, band, duct is perfectly placed. There is old world craftsmanship such as the jeweler screws that fasten the body to the frame and are quite visible against the white paint. For accuracy, one would think Maserati probably preferred welds or rivets to gigantic screws, but on this model they seem completely in character.

The cockpit is full of goodies, from the blue cloth seats to the simple dash with its array of gauges, ignition box and switches. Those with a magnifying glass will appreciate the tiny nameplate on the passenger side. There are lots of unique and unusual features from the surprisingly non-aerodynamic mounting of the rear view mirror to the wood and aluminum three spoke wheel that controls the functional rack and pinion steering. The detailed, right mounted five-speed manual shifter is almost hidden from view. Following linkages and wires from the dash through the engine is fascinating.

The solidly hinged doors and working locks for the trunk and bonnet create shut lines that seal tightly. Walking around the aluminum Gentling and Allegretto shell, the lighting, exhaust, grilles and roll bar are finely detailed. While the model features smoothly angled rear wheel openings, the actual Nurburing car had more squared off appearance. That said, the model is actually aesthetically more pleasing to the eye and is reminiscent of some photos of restored Tipo 60 models. For those that are sticklers for historical accuracy, there are already several bulletin board posts around that feature a relatively easy fix for this problem.

The rear of the car features a functional fuel cap and a trunk that opens to display a full spare tire secured with a leather belt. The locking mechanism takes gentle persistence to operate but does work.

Imprinted Dunlop tires surround CMC’s legendary hand laced wheels. These wheels have the usual accoutrements like valve stems and removable knock-off. Remove the wheel and you can view the brakes and the suspension in detail. The front independent coil over suspension is threaded within the space frame while the rear suspension is supported by a de Dion axle. One is continually impressed by CMC's use of varied materials. Review the picture of the brake and suspension and notice copper, wire, plastic and metal make up the rich textures. And attention to detail like replicating the rivet points on the chassis is merely icing on an already sumptuous cake.


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There is every temptation to shout from the mountain top that this is the finest mass produced diecast ever made and several have. But as for me I’m not prepared to go that far. That’s no slight because what I see in this model is the same level of engineering excellence we last saw in the CMC Ferrari 250 SWB and MB W154 streamliner. While this model has 1,140 separate parts and is undoubtedly a fantastic achievement, the exquisite and artful craftsmanship that CMC continues to pour into each subject reinforces the notion that they are all about executing precisely in every model they make. Lucky us!

Legacy Motors has the CMC Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage ready for shipment.

Next week:


Did someone see a gang of Greasers in the area?


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