Notes From The Archives – MASERATI A6GCS
October 12th, 2017 by James Chartres
Words by Gary Horstkorta
One of the rarest cars to appear in San Francisco Region races was Bob Gillespie’s Maserati A6GCS sports car which he first entered at Pebble Beach in 1954 and subsequently raced until 1957. After racing MGs for the previous four years he moved up to the more powerful, better handling and faster Maserati. At the time, there were only a very few of these cars in the U.S. but were widely raced in Europe and the U.K. by some of the best know drivers of the period.
The A6GCS was introduced back in 1947 at the Geneva Salon Show with a body by Pininfarina and a new engine based on the Tipo 6CM race car. The body was low, lightweight and sleek with wheels covered by cycle fenders. This was followed by the A6G competition model driven in the 1947 Mille Miglia by Villoresi. Later that year, the first A6GCS sports car made its debut with a single overhead camshaft 2.0 Liter engine which developed 125 hp. This model was extensively raced in a wide variety of events by factory drivers including hill climbs, road races, the Mille Miglia, and Formula 2 events.
The model designation A6GCS stood for “A” indicating the basic model, “6” for six cylinder, “G” for the engine material type, “C” for corsa or racing, “S” for sport. In 1952 the factory made a change to a dual overhead camshaft engine raising the horsepower to 165. In 1953 the Series II car was introduced with fully faired fenders giving the car a more pleasing look.
The A6GCS continued winning in Europe, the UK, the U.S. (SCCA and Sebring 12 Hours) and South America but by 1955 the factory was focused on newer models. The car lived on in spirit as its engine was used in the A6GCM Formula 2 car and became the basic design for the fabulous 250F Grand Prix car which Juan Manual Fangio used for his championship season in 1957.
The Gillespie A6GCS was a Series II car and as mentioned, he raced it from 1954 into the 1957 season. In 1956 Gillespie decided on an engine swap replacing the 2.0 Liter Maserati engine with a Chevy V-8 moving him to the C Modified class. He did well with this new setup throughout the year and into early 1957. However in April of 1957, Gillespie loaned the car to Lou Brero Sr. for practice laps at a race in Hawaii. During a high speed run, the drive shaft broke, ruptured the gas tank resulting in a large fire which engulfed the car. Brero was able to bail out but not before he had suffered significant burns which tragically took his life. The car was a total loss.
Years later, in 1978, former SFR Regional Executive (1964) Sid Colberg acquired an A6GCS from an individual in the U.K. The car had been discovered in South America by a well known car broker and shipped back to the U.K. This was a Series 1 cycle fender model, one of only between ten and fifteen originally built by the factory. The car spent two years in the U.K. for its initial restoration before it was shipped to the U.S. for completion. At that time it was the only Series 1 in the U.S.
When the restoration was completed, Colberg raced the car in the 1986 Sonoma and Monterey Historics and it was a participant at the 1987 Pebble Beach Concours. Colberg maintained ownership for several years before selling the car in the late 1990’s having enjoyed his time with that very special car.
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