A Look at Maserati’s First and Oldest Consumer Road Vehicle, the A6 1500

Maserati Heritage
A Look at Maserati’s First and Oldest Consumer Road Vehicle, the A6 1500

While Maserati now focuses primarily on developing cars for consumers and has developed an impressive array of different models to meet customer expectations, the company actually started as a racing company.

In fact, Maserati built race cars for decades before it produced its first road vehicle. The Maserati brothers started producing supercharged race cars in the 1920s, and Alfieri and Ernesto enjoyed success on the track. Eventually, they decided to take their cars to the road, although World War II postponed this pursuit. Shortly after the war, Maserati released the A6. It was Maserati’s first road vehicle and one of the first post-war Italian cars to hit the market.

Maserati Ventures into the Realm of Road Vehicles for the First Time

As a racing company, Maserati built four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engines. When it came time to create its very first road vehicle, the company chose to employ a 6 cylinder design known as the A6TR, or Testa Riportata. The “A” honored Alfieri Maserati, who passed away in 1932. This engine is the source of the vehicle’s name. The A6TR had a detachable cylinder head, a design that became foundational for post-war era Maserati engines. The rest of the car was designed in collaboration with Alberto Massimino. While much of the design elements came from pre-war Maseratis, the company broke new ground with the A6. Maserati incorporated innovations like using a single-overhead-cam valvetrain for greater reliability.

The prototype for the A6 1500 was completed in Spring 1946, and its design was documented by photographer Franco Zagari. However, this prototype was quite different from the final design, as it used Spider Corsa bodywork for testing purposes. The final exterior was created by Carrozzeria Pinin Farina. He was commissioned to design a coupe around the same time that Ernesto Maserati was working on the new engine. The exterior that was ultimately used resembles the Cistalia 202, also designed by Farina.

A Look at Maserati’s First and Oldest Consumer Road Vehicle, the A6 1500

A Four-Year Run of Unique and Distinctive A6 Variations

The road vehicle was debuted to the market as the Pinin Farina 1500 at the 1947 Geneva Motor Show. Despite its low-key grey exterior and simple design, the vehicle generated buzz. The small, 1.5-liter aluminum engine produced low horsepower by today’s standards, but proved more than ample for Italian roads at the time.

Defining what constitutes an A6 1500 is not as easy as one might expect. Since mass production was not possible at the time, the vehicle was made by hand, and small variations were possible. For example, the carburetor setup varied between vehicles, and one A6 1500 was actually built as a Cabriolet. All of the cars did have a simple steel tube frame suspended by a live axle at the rear and an independent setup in the front.

Altogether, Maserati produced around 60 cars between 1946 and 1950 that qualify as part of the A6 1500 series. Some of these vehicles were built to what was called “competizione” specification, which involved a “berlinetta a due posti” interior with only two seats and a three-carburetor intake. These cars were raced in a number of Italian events, including the 1951 Coppa Inter-Europa, despite being designed for the road. Maserati also made an “extra lusso” variant, which included a larger front grill, among other slight changes. Pinin Farina unveiled this special edition at the 1947 Paris Motor Show.

Maserati Collectors Still Seeking Out Examples of the A6 1500

Collectors are still highly interested in tracking down these earliest examples of Maserati road design, and several vehicles have gone up for auction in recent years. One of the most impressive sales involved a 1949 Maserati A6 1500/3C Berlinetta Pinin Farina 086. This vehicle was one of only 10 that came from the factory equipped with triple Weber carburetors, and it was actually raced. The car also had a meticulously documented chain of ownership from when it was first purchased, and it underwent an extensive restoration completed in 2014. Ultimately, the car sold for nearly $900,000. Part of the reason for the high price was the extensive historical documentation that came with the vehicle, along with several unique tools and an array of hard-to-find spare parts.

The prices for some of the other recent A6 1500 sales were not quite as astronomical as the one above, but they still represent how historically important this vehicle was—not just for Maserati, but for road automobiles in general. A 1949 Maserati A6 1500 Berlinetta 059 sold for more than $312,000. This vehicle was the only one that Pinin Farina completed on the longer wheelbase chassis. Maserati historian Adolfo Orsi says that the first owner of this vehicle was Americo Giol, who lived in San Polo di Piave. The car was later restored before being sold to a collector in Japan in 2000. Its most recent sale took place in 2015. Similarly, a 1950 Maserati A6 1500 Turismo 0101 was recently sold at auction for 308,000 euros. Restored by Claudio Zampolli, the vehicle is one of the last of the A6 1500 models produced.

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by Sarah Rosner
Serial Taco Eater and Self-Proclaimed Marketing Star with a passion for speed, fashion, dogs, and the finer things.

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