Maserati A6 G Berlinetta by Zagato, 1956 Cabin, Maserati A6 G Berlinetta by Zagato, 1956 Motor, Maserati A6 G Berlinetta by Zagato, 1956

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#0067 - Maserati A6 G Berlinetta by Zagato, #2155, 1956

Photographed: Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, 2009
Owner: J. Roberto Quiroz

Sometimes the Greats Go Wrong: Every so often you run into a car that's remarkable for the degree to which it comes up short—a superlative underachiever, if you will. And, in a world of Paris Show cars and Le Mans winners, a bit of levity can go a long way. In 1956, #2155 was bodied by Zagato in a pattern similar to most other Zagato-clothed A6 G cars, with classic, round headlamp pods, a more conventional Maserati grille, and a long, gently sloping roof-line that, in addition to being completely flat, gave the car a nice rearward biased disposition. While it isn't often mentioned, this more typical A6 G Zagato car is actually quite close to the Aston Martin DB-4 GT Zagato in its pattern of features and lines.

A year after construction, chassis #2155 was back at Zagato in Milan, where brother Elio was intending to race it at Monza. However, with the motor fresh off a tuning rebuild, the car was heavily damaged in a serious accident on the Autostrada Milano Torino while being driven by either Elio or Gianni Zagato. (I'm not positive on this detail because, while it has been printed that Gianni was driving, it is also well known that Elio retired from racing subsequent to a serious road accident). In any case, the event necessitated a longer stay at Zagato for #2155. In turn, a new body was made for the car, but something different this time, completing in 1957 the second of two Zagato-built A6 cars with their signature double-bubble.

Now, as is wont to happen, a succession of owners changed various aspects of the styling in the years spanning 1957 and 2005—that was when a comprehensive restoration was finished. The previous owner, working with noneother than Adolfo Orsi, (who I am going to assume is one and the same as he who purchased the car company from the brothers Maserati), returned #2155 to its second configuration which, in addition to being unique, was also much better documented than the original. What results is less than conventional, and perhaps even a bit ungainly, but it's certainly more interesting than bringing back yet another example of the "standard" Maserati A6 by Zagato.

Aesthetics: I mentioned the lot of Zagato-bodied A6 Berlinetta cars play sage to the Aston Martin DB-4 GT Zagato. In contrast to those earlier designs, chassis #2155 has a similar, if not identical approach as the Ferrari 250 GT Berlietta, chassis #0665. But clearly, things don't work out so well on the Maserati. As the British Maserati Club's Trident magazine once pointed out, "this was the time that Zagato entered their 'eccentric' stage, which some say they have yet to leave."

Both the A6, as bodied in 1957, and the 250 GT, also bodied in 1957, share subtle fin cues along the haunches, long, slightly accentuated front quarters, some manner of squared-off treatment to the headlamps, and a bit of a boxy cabin. That customary rear window, along with its notchy shape, is also elongated a little. But the point in comparing the two is to say that the Ferrari has enough wheelbase to draw all of these cues in a beautiful form, whereas the Maserati is somewhat homely. The headlamps, too, come off looking less sporting than nebbish for the way the aluminum forms droll eyebrows above each lens. I really love the Zagato-bodied Ferrari, but this example, not so much. It's just awkward and imbalanced.

Of course, I do like that it's different. That grille, for one, is astonishing—a wide, filter-feeder of a thing deeply inset to the nose. And the nose itself sticks out just a bit too far, but gives the shape a daring, forward looking approach. Trident said this is "in many ways the most modern looking of all the A6 G cars," and I can go along with that at least to the extent that 'modern' is taken in an artistic context, rather than to say anything of practical design. Chassis #2155 is very well developed compared to its relatively flat stablemates, although, as we mentioned it's still less refined than most others. Objectively, the efforts of Allemano, Frua, Pininfarina, and even Vignale (in those rare cases), all seem to fit the A6 G better than Zagato sheetmetal.

Surprise-Surprise: When I jump into a new photograph, I sometimes develop an image that completely disarms my actual experience with the car. I wasn't thrilled to photograph this Maserati A6 G, (even though the species is among my favorite, this just isn't a pleasing example). But, contrary to first impressions, I am thrilled with the results. I can't say enough for the practice of digital re-paneling as it gives me full opportunity to consume every line and detail on an incredibly fine level. If we ever get to the point where I'm looking to do a bit more with these photographs, that's an aspect I certainly want to play up.

Sources:

Maserati Club UK: Providing an article on chassis #2155, among others.

I Capolavori Maserati: Providing an enthusiast's collection of Maserati A6 G prints; our car is somewhat mis-labeled, and appears as the third print in Set B.

UltimateCarPage: I'm once again happy to say these fine folks have a full feature on our car, as seen following the 2005 Villa d'Este Concours d'Elegance.

 

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