The Maserati Tipo 26B is considered to be one of the, and possibly the, oldest running Maserati in the world. It first appeared as a works factory car in 1928 at the Targa Florio, driven by the Marquis Diego de Sterlich, a personal benefactor of the Maserati factory. For 1930 it returned as a factory team car fitted with a 2.5-liter engine. At the Grand Prix of Rome, Luigi Archangeli scored his first major victory and at Monza finished second. In 1931 Rene Dreyfus drove the car although struggled with reliability in the first two races in Tunis and Tripoli. Dreyfus claimed pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix, setting fastest lap in qualifying. For the 1932 season Dreyfus was again at the wheel, coming in first in the Reale Premio di Roma and second at the Grand Prix de Marseille and Nimes. The car was used sparingly for the 1933 season and its final races were at Monaco and Montlhery. When war broke out in Europe, the car was hidden in an Algerian cave before reappearing in 1945 in Morocco. It was eventually stored in an aircraft hangar in France until discovered by an American collector. Television personality Alainde Cadanet owned it in the 1980s before its current owner acquired it in 2000.
Carlos Maserati was the first of the Maserati brothers to show a true interest in racing. He began his career with Fiat and later went to work for Cesare Isotta and Vincenzo Fraschini.
By the early 1920s the brothers were offered a deal by Diatto Works in an effort to compete against the Fiat's and Alfa Romeos. Though the relationship between Maserati and Diatto would be brief, the knowledge gained working with superchargers and the straight-eight engine would be monumental.
The Maserati Tipo 26 made its debut on April 25, 1926 at the Targa Florio where it was successfully driven by Alfieri Maserati to a ninth place finish and a class victory in the Grand Prix formula class.
During the Italian Grand Prix two lightweight Tipo 26's were forced to retire due to lubrication and carburetion problems. The issue was addressed and by 1927 the engine had been upgraded with a new carburetion and engine lubrication system.
1927 would be the final year for Grand Prix Formula racing which meant that the 1.5 liter Maserati Tipo 26 would be an obsolete racer. Maserati enlarged the engine to a bore of 62 mm and a stroke of 82 mm resulting in a two-liter engine size making it eligible to compete.
The Maserati Tipo 26B was produced for only a short time during the close of the 1920's with only seven ever being constructed. It came about on the heals of the highly successful and competitive 1.5 liter engined Tipo 26 which had proven its capabilities at the Mille Miglia in 1926 and many other races.
The powerful supercharged engine produced over 150 horsepower and with its aluminum body and steel frame was capable of speeds over 150. Power was sent to the rear wheels through a four-speed manual gearbox which stopping power was courtesy of mechanical drum brakes. This is a true testament to the mechanical genius of the five Maserati brothers: Carlo, Bindo, Alfieri, Ettore, and Ernesto.
The Tipo 26 continued to evolve over the years and thus the specifications and performance of each vehicle varies. The racing variants were often given highly tuned engines and lightweight bodies while the road-going versions were often constructed with a three-speed Diatto transmission. By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2006
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