The Maserati Tipo 151 was a very special car. In total only three were built by Maserati to compete in the experimental GT class at the 24 h of Le Mans in 1962. One was built for the french Maserati Team of Johnny Simone, painted in red with tricolore stripes and two for Briggs Cunningham‘s US Team (white body with two blue stripes).
Maserati Tipo 151 at the Goodwood Revival in 2012 and 2014
The car marked a return to more traditional concepts of car design based on a a frame with round and oval tubes, an independent front suspension and a De Dion rear axle. They where powered by a V 8 engine, derived from the 420 S, with a reduced capacity of just under 4.0 liters. The performance was rated at 360 hp. The body was an Alfieri design using a wind tunnel at Milan university. The chassis was designed by Giorgio Molinari while the suspension came from Gianpaolo Dallara.
The cars entered the 24 h of Le Mans in 1962, driven by Maurice Trintignant/Lucien Bianchi, Bruce McLaren/Walt Hansgen and Bill Kimberly/Dick Thompson. They proved to be very quick at the qualifying sessions. Thompson’s car was in third, McLaren’s in fifth’s and the Maserati France (Simone) car in seventh’s place.
But during the race things went in the wrong direction; all cars were suffering under technical problems and none of them could finish the race. They returned to the factory for servicing, the Cunningham cars went back to the USA for further modifications including several different engines. From the very helpful Maserati Club of Germany I learned, that only one of these cars survived. It was the well known Maserati enthusiast Peter Kaus who entered the car in his „Rosso Bianco“ Collection. Later in 2006 most of the cars where transferred to the Louwman Collection in the Netherlands.
Two Tipo 151 appeared at the Revival 2012. It seems, that the white car (No. 3) was the original surviving ex Cunningham car being modified later for several times. The second Tipo 151, stripped to the bare aluminum with a tricolor at the nose (No 1), must have been one of the two recreations initiated by Peter Kaus looking like a“blueprint“ of the original „Simone“ car which was destroyed completely at the 24 h of Le Mans in 1965. At the Revival 2012 the two Tipo 151 raced in the RAC Club TT Celebration Race, driven by Joe Colasacco/Derek Hill (No. 3) and Barrie Baxter/Jochen Mass (No 1). Colasacco was out of the race after 10 laps hitting the wall at Woodcote corner. The Baxter/Mass car suffered under technical problems and was out of the race in lap 33.
The appearance of the Colasacco car two years later at the Revival 2014 has been more successful. The car proved to be very quick after qualifying and started in the second row in the TT Celebration race. Colassacco and his co-driver Derek Hill finished the race in second place. Winner was David Hart and his co-driver Giedo van der Garde with the Cobra 4.7 litre from the DHG group.
Report by Günter Biener/ Maserati Club Germany