HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: Rare Maserati designed for road, not track

Pick of the Day: Rare Maserati designed for road, not track

1959 A6/1500 one of only 61 produced


The Maserati brothers were so into motorsports that they created only one vehicle designed only for road use and bearing the family name. It didn’t happen until they were being financed by Adolfo Orsi, and that partnership ended quickly with Orsi keeping the Maserati brand while the brothers formed O.S.C.A. so they could continue to build race cars.

The Pick of the Day on ClassicCars.com is a 1949 Maserati A6/1500 being advertised by a dealer in St. Louis, Missouri.

“The A6 1500 was a jewel of a machine, born from Maserati’s vast competition experience,” the dealer notes in the car’s advertisement. “While it was sold and marketed as a Grand Touring road car, it was well-suited to sporting duty, and many were raced in-period.”

The dealer notes that the A6 debuted with “a radical, if slightly awkward, Pinin Farina body with faired-in headlamps and a sharply truncated roofline.”

Maserati, Pick of the Day: Rare Maserati designed for road, not track, ClassicCars.com Journal

However, “when production began in earnest, the legendary coachbuilder offered a restrained yet breathtakingly beautiful 2+2 coupe design. Minimally adorned yet with sophisticated form, the Pinin Farina A6 set a benchmark for sports car design through the 50s and 60s.”

The car on offer is chassis 086, which the dealer notes was finished at the midpoint of the 61 cars produced between 1947 and 1951. 

“It wears Pinin Farina’s gorgeous 2+2 fastback coachwork, which, like the Cisitalia 202, is a masterpiece of mid-century design,” the dealer adds. 

“Chassis 086 boasts a fascinating history and is particularly notable for being the first production Maserati equipped with triple Weber carburetors. It is the first of an estimated ten A6 1500s fitted with the optional competition engine and is one of just two known survivors.”

Rather than merely bolt two more carburetors onto the head atop the 1.5-liter inline-6, the dealer notes that Maserati installed high-compression pistons, a revised camshaft profile, and cast reinforcements into the aluminum and magnesium cylinder blocks.

“The enhancements significantly raised power from the single-carbureted base version from 65 to a very handy 90 horsepower. While standard cars have been updated to triple carburetors over the years, the engine differences set this car apart from modified versions.”

The dealer cites production records that show the car was delivered to Pinin Farina for coachwork on December 11, 1948, and went back to Maserati the following July for signoff by test driver Guerino Bertocchi. 

It was consigned to Peppino Santi of Rome on September 14 and a day later was sold to Isabella Quarantotti, “an aristocratic Italian writer and playwright living in Paris. Although registered in Italy at Ms. Quarantotti’s residence in Positano, her fabulous new Maserati was delivered to a garage in Paris where she lived with her future (ex) second husband, English poet Alexander Ronald “Alec” Smith. It was likely Smith’s idea to buy the Maserati, as he was a well-known motoring enthusiast.”

The dealer adds that correspondence shows that Quarantotti and Smith explored the possibility of entering the car into the 24 hours of Le Mans, which would have made it the first Maserati to compete in the famed race.

“However, it was not to be, and they never completed the process.”

Maserati, Pick of the Day: Rare Maserati designed for road, not track, ClassicCars.com Journal

Quarantotti and Smith divorced. She kept the car until the end of 1950, when it was purchased by Italian soccer player, skiing champion and textiles entrepreneur Donatello Mennini. 

He sold the car in the spring of 1952 to Celestina Basini, and in the summer of 1952 a US Army officer stationed in Italy, Larry James Pichichero, registered the car in his name. Pichichero and fellow officer Thomas Martin drove the car in several European races. 

Ernest Nanson, a California gunsmith, was vacationing in Italy in 1957 and saw the car on a sales lot. He bought the car and sent it to his home on the West Coast, where he kept the car for 22 years. It later went to William McKinley, who commissioned its restoration and change from its original light gray to a ruby red color.

 “Chassis 086 subsequently competed in the Monterey Historics in August 1983, and the following June, it took home Best of Show and the People’s Choice Award at the 6th Maserati International Meet at Lake Tahoe,” the dealer reports. 

Maserati, Pick of the Day: Rare Maserati designed for road, not track, ClassicCars.com Journal

“The A6 passed through several owners over the following decades, including Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan and the Blackhawk Collection. Chassis 086 was also featured in The Great Book of Sports Cars, representing Maserati’s first hand-built road cars.”

The car took part in the Mille Miglia Retro in 2006 and then underwent another restoration with the only deviations from original being the paint color and the fitment of Borrani wire wheels. (The original Maserati CABO wheels are included in the car’s sale.)

The car is being offered for $625,000. 

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. Lovely car.. I have one question though, why do people think it is alright to change the color of a car other than it is their car.

  2. Well, I think if it’s your car you can make it any color you want. Back in the ’50’s when it went red, it was “just a used Maserati”. I’m sure the next owner can afford to paint it grey if s/he wants.


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