The partnership between Ugo Zagato and the Maserati brothers originated in the 1930s with the Tipo 26M Sport and was immediately directed by a specific philosophy: to dress Maserati mechanics with sportier, lightweight and more aerodynamic bodies.
1931 Maserati Tipo 26M Sport
The first Maseratis produced by the factory, from 1926 with the 8-cylinder Type 26, were almost exclusively racing cars. In this context, the meeting with Zagato, at the time an official partner of Alfa Romeo and official supplier of Scuderia Ferrari, was a milestone in the history of Maserati.
The first model with a Zagato body was the Type 26M, produced between 1930-’32, and was also known as the 8C 2500. The first chassis, n. 2520, left the factory in December 1931 and was sent to the Carrozzeria Zagato in Milan, selected in order to become a “Sport” version at the request of the customer, a well-known attorney of the Milan court.
Zagato’s execution is evidence of the coachbuilder’s capacity to dress racing mechanics (the letter “M” corresponded to a single-seater cockpit despite its capacity for two passengers; though closed with a metal tonneau, one was for the mechanic / navigator) with the facade of a handsome, two-seater road car, for its intentioned use on the racetrack or even concours d’elegance.
1933 Maserati Tipo 4CS 1100
In the early 1930s, of all the great sports cars with eight-cylinder engines, Maserati was studying a smaller model to also compete in the lower categories but, above all, to aspire to a prestigious class victory in the Mille Miglia.
The new Maserati 4CTR (4-cylinder “Testa Riportata”), 4CM (4- cylinder, single-seater) and 4CS (4-cylinder sport) were mounting small, twin-cam engines with variable power from 90 to 115 hp. Appearing for the first time in prototype form at the Mille Miglia in ’31, this model went on to win its class the following year. During its production history, the first chassis to receive a Zagato body was n.1517, and was assembled in 1933.
The tiny 1,100 cc motor with the now famous, lightweight Zagato body took part in various competitions, among them the 1936 Mille Miglia, where it finished tenth overall.
1934 Maserati V4 Zagato Spider
The third Zagato Maserati model was born in 1934 and was another example of the typical functionalist perspective and approach in crafting Zagato bodies.
It was a car born for racing that had the potential to combine technical sophistication with an elegant and balanced volume.
The V4 was the first race car with a 16-cylinder engine in the history of motor racing. Developed as a single-seater for Grand Prix racing, the car debuted in Monza in 1929 with Alfieri Maserati.
The V4 achieved the fastest average lap speed, freezing the record for 25 years. Two weeks following with the same car, Baconin Borzacchini, reached a new world record of 246 km/h during practice for the GP in Cremona.
Concluding its commitments to racing, the V4 remained with Maserati for some time until it was acquired by a client in Rome while he had been visiting the factory, who had asked for the car to be transformed for road use.
Maserati entrusted Zagato with the realization of an elegant aluminum body that covered, without hiding, the car’s sophisticated and cutting-edge mechanics. Painted in a charming, two-tone green livery, the new, elegant and ethereal V4 became a frequent guest of salons in Rome. In ’34, the car won a major award at the Pincio Concorso d’Eleganza.