Zagato and Maserati: history and gallery

Automotive Design 29 May 2015
Zagato and Maserati: history and gallery

On the occasion of the presentation of the Mostro Concept, Zagato has published a document and a gallery of photos and illustrations that give an overview of the history of its collaboration with Maserati.


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1947 Maserati A6 1500 Coupé Panoramica

In 1919, Ugo Zagato founded his carrozzeria bringing his expertise in aviation to what, at the time, was a new automotive sector.

1947 Maserati A6 1500 Coupe Panoramica Illustration

In the ‘20s, the lightweight, aircraft-inspired Zagato bodyworks imposed themselves leaders in competition.

The innovative spirit of Zagato characterized the pioneering era of automobiles. Even during the Second World War, fleeing from the fury of conflict, Ugo Zagato continued his studies on aerodynamics.

In the late ‘40s, this focus created a new form called Panoramica, which was inspired by aircraft cockpits and influenced the innovative use of Plexiglas to model state-of-the-art glass surfaces for maximum visibility.

1947 Maserati A6 1500 Coupe Panoramica

The Maserati A6 1500 was one of the first examples of this new experimental body: a breakthrough design and revolutionary form in every component that was also united by an innate and elegant class. So unique, only the classic Maserati front grill permitted this car recognition as a model of the Tridente.

1954 A6G/54 Maserati Coupé

With the end of the Second World War, Maserati began designing a chassis that could revive the brand, both in competition and on the road. This objective was entrusted to the A6 with a straight-6, 1500 cc engine, which Zagato also made into a Panoramica.

1954 Maserati A6G-54 Coupe Illustration

The first evolution was introduced in 1950, the A6G, with an augmented two-liter engine and a range of two variations: the barchetta sport and GT coupé. In 1954, the climax in the development of the model arrived, the A6G/54, and it was designed with a new personality geared towards Gran Turismo racing.

1954 Maserati A6G-54 Coupe

At the Turin Motor Show in 1954, Zagato introduced its own version, which was the most extreme and fascinating of all the proposals of the Italian car. Now considered one of the best examples of Italian Gran Turismo and a symbol of the era, the A6G/54 competed successfully within its category.

The A6G/54 raced successfully during the same period of time and within the same category of racing as Elio Zagato, who was a leading promotor and influential figure of Gran Turismo.

Until 1957, approximately 60 examples of the A6G/54 had been built. Of these, 20 models were coachbuilt by Zagato, each one unique through personalized details.

1955 A6G/54 Maserati Spider

At the 1955 Geneva Motor Show, Maserati introduced an important varation of the A6G/54 coupé and had entrusted the specialists at Zagato with this task.

1955 Maserati A6G-54 Spider Illustration

In complete contrast to the deliberately spartan and essential character of Zagato, the Milanese coachbuilder created a handsome spider body to dress the frame of n.2101. This variation underlined Zagato’s eclectic spirit, and demonstrated its consistent capability in appling functionalist and rationalist style to create an elegant form.

1955 Maserati A6G-54 Spider

The car was spotted by Juan Peron, then president of Argentina as well as husband of the legendary Evita. As a great motor enthusiast and admirer of Juan Manuel Fangio, the president agreed to purchase the car, though eventually was forced to cancel his purchase because of a political crisis in Argentina. Used for promotional events, the A6G/54 Spider was eventually purchased by an American in 1958.

1957 Maserati 450 S Coupé Zagato “Monster”

The Maserati 450 S, built for the 1957 World Sportscar Championship, represented the highest point of Maserati’s official dedication to competition. In the midst of the exciting season in which the brand fought to the end for their victory, the 24 Hours of Le Mans represented, along with the Mille Miglia, a kind of moral triumph for the whole Championship.

1957 Maserati 450 S Coupe Zagato Monster Illustration

Maserati commissioned Zagato to build a coupé body for chassis n.4501. This decision was the result of the pressing demands of Stirling Moss. Likely, it was also he who asked Frank Costin, an expert in aerodynamics, to collaborate with Zagato on the model.

Zagato, working while instructed by the English technician, built a lightweight, aluminum body in record time, obtaining an extraordinary result in terms of weight. With respect to the barchetta, the coupé weighed only 65 kg more. That special form was created, through rigorous design decisions based on functionality, and the power of an 8-cylinder, 4.5 liter, 400 hp engine, contributed to the car’s eloquent nickname: the “Monster.”

Moss, who was paired with Harry Schell at Le Mans, became the protagonist of an extraordinary battle against Ferrari and Jaguar. The 450 S Coupé Zagato, despite starting from second position, managed to take the lead within a few laps, thanks to its favorable characteristics: a very low weight and an incredibile capacity for speed of 320 km/h.

The car remained in command until the beginning of the night when only an engine failure interrupted the extraordinary showdown. Though returned to the factory, it was bought by an American named Byron Staver the following year and turned into a road car. He decided to repaint it from rosso corsa, typical of Italian cars, to a more elegant and minimalist black.

1959 Maserati 3500 GTZ

For Maserati, the year 1957 was a year of radical change. At the end of the World Manufacturer’s Championship, the company declared that it would not renew the commitment for the following year (though it would continue to support private customers and the development of new racing cars).

On the production side of the road models, the revolution had already begun in the previous months. At the Geneva Motor Show in March, Maserati debuted the 3500 GT, a coupé more comfort-oriented, luxurious and better finished.

1959 Maserati 3500 GTZ - Photo Copyright by Quattroruote

A sketch of a Zagato version was presented as part of the manufacturer’s stand and it had also been included in the official catalog that year for the range. The 3500 GTZ, traditionally sportier than other variations, was strongly in line with the origins of the Maserati brand. Those times, however, were long gone as the Orsi family had already started building Maserati from sport to sports luxury, which today has made it one of the most respected brands in the world.

The 3500 GTZ’s simple and pure sports body was later chosen in 1959 to dress the chassis of an A6G/54 (n.2155) after an accident.

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Image Gallery

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