Former Mille Miglia Maserati A6 GCS barchetta changes hands in France

A splendid little piece of Maserati history changed hands on auction last week. This delightful Maserati A6 GCS/53 Fiandri barchetta, chassis number 2071 enjoyed racing success in around the world. It has a wonderful story behind it.

Mechanic Proto Starred in early A6 GCS years

Delivered in 1954, the car was not even fully assembled when privateer racer Jean Estager’s mechanic Jean Proto and his truck arrived in Modena armed with a three million French francs cheque to collect it. On his boss’ instruction, Proto knuckled in to help finish building the Maserati as he got to know it better. Still in its original blue hue, Estager successfully raced chassis number 2071 in that year’s Tour de France Auto.

A6 GCS/53 has a two-litre engine with three double carburettors and twin ignition. For a handy 130 kW at 7,300 rpm. Driving with faithful mechanic Proto at his side, Estager hit several mechanical problems along the 5,000 km route. Proto was however able to solve most of the issues. So, the intrepid duo to race home sixth overall and win their class. A6 GCS/53 number 2071 returned to the factory in 1955. It was overhauled, gained headrests, a longer nose and a new paint job.

A6 GCS Has Mille Miglia Provenance

Maserati then sold the car to Milanse driver Amelio Garavaglia, who soon raced it to fifth out of 107 starters at the Mendola hill climb. Another Milanese driver Ambrogio Arosio then bought 2017 and entered the Maserati in the 1956 Mille Miglia. Without old Proto on hand to mend a problem that arose, it retired early on. That said, this car has never had a major accident and has now survived intact for close to 70 years.

Like many old race cars did in those days, the Maserati found its way overseas to Venezuela. There it was modified again, gaining its current white paintwork with red stripes. A Californian then bought the car in 1961, but it was left neglected in a La Jolla coconut plantation. Many years later in 1977, the Maserati re-emerged unrestored on a trailer at Laguna Seca.

Back to the Mille Miglia

Maserati expert Richard Crump restored A6 GCS/53 2071 in England and sold it on to a German collector. He shared it with Stirling Moss in the ’86 the Mille Miglia retrospective, 30 years after it first raced that great original race. 2071 then went to a Boston collector, who drove it the Mille Miglia several times. Its previous German owner then bought it back. He has now parted with his Maserati a second time after French house Artcurial auctioned it for some R63-million.

As a matter of interest, the A in A6 GCS stands for Alfieri Maserati, who with brothers Ernesto, Ettore and Bindo, and engineer Alberto Massimino, developed its engine. The 6 stands for its straight-six-cylinder configuration. The G is for ghisa, or Italian for cast iron. Which its engine block was made from. CS represents Corsa Sport, corsa of course being race in Italian, while 53 denotes its model year. And barchetta means ‘little bath’, as Italian racing spyders have long been known…

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