Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage – Car Profile Page Two
Hinkle eventually sold 2470 to a friend, Tracy Bird, who later became one of the founders of the Can-Am series. Bird raced it in Castle Rock, near Tucson, on 5th April 1964, finishing fifth. A fire in Bird’s garage did some damage to the front of the car, and to repair it properly, he bought the ex-Roger Penske Birdcage (chassis 2471) from its then-owner Enus Wilson. 2471’s rear end had suffered in an accident, but it had an intact front end. Bird thus repaired 2470 using the factory correct parts from 2471, after which its wreck was scrapped. As a result, 2470 is the second to last Birdcage extant, as 2472, the ex-Camoradi factory car now in the Panini Museum, is the only car with a higher chassis number.
Bird’s Maserati then crossed the Atlantic after its acquisition by F1 team owner and bon vivant Lord Alexander Hesketh. In his ownership, it competed with Charles Lucas (aka “Charlie Luke”) behind the wheel, who had previously raced a 250F. This was an era when vintage races were much more casual, cars arrived on flatbeds and starting grids were a patchwork of “run what ya brung.” On 20th May 1974, Lucas started on pole at the Silverstone Open Aston Martin Historic Race and was third for most of the event before retiring on the last lap.
He and Lord Hesketh recently shared some of their typically colourful memories with this writer:
Charles Lucas: “It was a great car to drive. I don’t think there were any old sports racing cars around that were quicker at the time – it even beat Robs Lamplough in his CanAm McLaren at Castle Combe. The best win was probably at the Historic support race for the Austrian GP at the Osterreichring in ’75. We had such a good lead, Alexander hung out a pit sign that said ‘Cocktails’, so we came in to the pits for a quick one!”
Needless to say this would not go down well nowadays! Lord Hesketh recalled the same event:
“I’d been advised by a friend who had a Tipo 61 to buy one as well so I did. It went to the Osterreichring in 1975. It was then a proper race track. We were disappointed in the GP – rather teed off, actually – and the only other race of the day was the vintage race but the trouble with that one is that it wasn’t really a race, it was meant to be a sort of 70 mph parade. Charles put in a lap at 130 mph. I mean at Zeltweg you’d expect to have a Type 61 unrestricted. This was going to get us into trouble, so we put out a pitboard that said “cocktails” in order to bring him in and slow him down. So he came in we gave him one, we let the whole of the field go by. Then he went out, overtook them all again and won the race. I think that is the only time we took it to a GP and raced it the same weekend.”
Later owners included Dieter Holterbosch of Oyster Bay, New York who had it restored and in 1998 sold it to Tony Smith in the U.K. The current owner acquired 2470 from Smith in 2004 and has used it in several Ferrari Historic Challenge Series events. The last Race entered was the 2009 Nürburgring Oldtimer Grand Prix, which the car won.
One of the most original Birdcages in existence, it is fitted with a spare race prepared engine. The original engine comes with the car, however. The body is mostly original. Maserati’s racing cars have steadily appreciated in value over the last 20 years as the marque’s rich and successful history gets more and more of the recognition it deserves. The Birdcage is one of the most iconic racers ever to come out of the hallowed Modenese factory. It is a tremendously competitive and enjoyable car to drive and a jewel of engineering.
This particular 1960 Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage, chassis number 2470, sold for $3,343,648 at RM Auctions’ inaugural Sporting Classics of Monaco sale, held May 1st, 2010 at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.
Auction Editor Rick Carey reported on 2470:
The amalgamation of 2471’s nose with 2470’s tail and identity after a fire in Tracy Bird’s garage in 1964 toasted the original nose. Fitted with a new engine but supplied with the original. Head fairing noted by Oosthoek and Bollee as not original has been removed. Known history from new, restored in the 70’s for Lord Alexander Hesketh, historic raced recently and successfully. Nicely presented with good cosmetics in Jack Hinkle’s original black livery, a clean, well maintained historic race car with its FIA papers.
Not worth what a Camoradi car would bring, or one of the few surviving completely pure Tipo 60/61s, but a stunning, aggressive, correct and known history historic racer of unquestioned provenance and history that needs nothing at all to be competitive on the track and only an exhaustive detailing to make onlookers swoon at concours. This is what it took to own it, this is what it’s worth.
[Source: RM Auctions; photo credit: Michel Zumbrunn and Wilem Oosthoek Collection © Courtesy of RM Auctions]