Maserati 8CM

Total Production: 19 1933 - 1935
The Italian based Maserati Company was established on December 1st of 1914. It was founded by brothers Alfieri Maserati, Bindo Maserati, Carlo Maserati, Ettore Maserati, Ernesto Maserati and Mario Maserati. Alfieri was the most talented in the engineering department which made his death in 1932 even more devastating. Prior to his passing, he had completed designs for two new engines which allowed work to continue, even though he was no longer around. The designs were similar and both featured twin-cams with the main differences being the number of cylinders. The four-cylinder design was intended to displace 1.5-liters and was suitable for the Voiturette class. The eight-cylinder version was intended for Grand Prix racing.

Upon completion of the engines, they were installed in a steel-ladder frame that featured a live axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs on all four corners. This concept had been seen before in the 4CM 1100. Alfieri had also been working on a new chassis which was dubbed Trazione Anteriori (T.A.). It was to have front-wheel drive and an independent front suspension. Though the engine designs would make it to production, the chassis designs were abandoned.

The 8C 3000 Grand Prix cars campaigned in the 1932 and 1933 seasons with one highlight being the French Grand Prix at Monthelery in 1933. The straight-eight engines initially produced around 220 horsepower. Two 8C 3000 Grand Prix cars were created, both were factory Works racers. An additional two engines were created; one was placed in a Bugatti Type 35 chassis and the other was used in the T.A. chassis. The T.A. car was later purchased by Sir Henry Birkin who used it in competition.

The 8CM would become the replacement for the 8C 2800 and 8C 3000 Grand Prix cars. To get the most power possible from the engine, a Roots-Type supercharged was fitted. Power would eventually rise to around 280 bhp.

Braking was employed by hydraulic drum brakes on four wheels making it one of the firsts to utilize this setup. The power produced by the engine would prove too much for the frame and suspension to handle. The lack of rigidity and the flexing of the frame made the '8CM' (as it had come to be called) in need of refinement. These needed improvements were handled by Tazio Nuvolari.

Nuvolari had worked for Alfa Romeo but was dissatisfied and was looking for a new ride to race with. Giuseppe Campari had purchased an 8CM and offered Nuvolari an opportunity to race the car - he accepted. To prepare the 8CM for racing, the car was given additional support with additional cross-members. This added additional weight, but greatly improved the cars handling and structural rigidity.

At the 1933 Belgian Grand Prix, Nuvolari was positioned at the back of the pack. This placement lasted for only a short time; when the race began, it took Nuvolari and his well-tuned Maserati only one lap to get to the front. As the checkered flag fell, he was still in the lead, giving the victory to the 8CM on its inaugural debut.

The 8CM would serve Maserati well throughout the season and would continue in Grand Prix racing in 1935. The modifications made by Nuvolari were adapted to other 8CM's. This increased the vehicle's overall weight but vastly improved its performance. The 8CM's was fast but lacked the financial backing to outrun the well-funded Auto Union, Mercedes, and Alfa Romeo teams.

In total, only 19 examples of the 8CM were produced. The eight-cylinder, dual-overhead-cam engine produced around 280 horsepower. The engines were mated to a four-speed manual gearbox and the overall weight was near the minimum weight of 750 kg, as regulated by Grand Prix racing. This was accomplished with the help of the aluminum body and a reduction in weight wherever possible.

The 8CM had done well in Grand Prix competition, though the well-funded teams often kept it from overall victory. The engines, with various other cylinder counts, were raced successfully in the Voiturette Series.
By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2008

Vehicle information, history, and specifications from concept to production.