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SNAPSHOT 53: Maserati 1947

When preparing this photograph for use here it was noticed that there appeared to be something slightly odd about it. Not particularly the fact that this sporting vehicle had been snapped against a less than ideal background, what seemed unusual was that an Italian car of 1947 was still apparently of right-hand drive configuration.

Quite by chance, a close look at the front hub-cap showed a word thereon, which read something like: ITAЯЭՑAM. It took a moment or two for the penny to drop – the negative had been reversed when the photograph had been printed. This is not an unknown phenomenon by any means, but thanks to modern technology it takes only seconds to flip the image over and restore the car’s correct stance – which is how we now see it.

Had this transformation not been achievable the photograph would not have been used and an opportunity would have been lost to explore at least some of the story about this eye-catching Maserati A6-1500.

In 1937 the Maserati brothers sold their company to Adolfo Orsi and their activities were moved from Bologna to Modena, but they remained as consultants for 10 years before returning home to form their OSCA business. The Tipo A6 was the last Maserati model for which the brothers were responsible, it having a tubular ‘ladder’ type chassis with coil-spring suspension, into which was fitted a 1488cc straight-six single overhead camshaft engine. Later in 1947 a 2-litre version was produced and variations on this Tipo A6G-2000 theme continued to be made for the next 10 or so years, although output does not seem to have averaged out at much more than about one car a month.

The prototype A6 chassis passed to Zagato and they built their aerodynamic ‘Panoramica’ coupé on it, in due course they made related versions of this, and from 1954 a run of open A6G ‘Spyder’ versions were produced.

The first production A6 – the car pictured here – was bodied by Pinin Farina and exhibited in March 1947 at the Geneva Motor Show. Its most unusual feature was the retractable headlights, a very early use of such a system. The next example that the firm clothed had the headlights conventionally placed in the front wings and this presaged the more flowing body shape on the Cisitalia 202 that they built later in the year, which Pinin Farina consider ‘marked a decisive turning point in the development of automotive style’.

A point for debate perhaps, but all of the coachbuilt cars referred to here were attractive-looking vehicles.

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