1932 Maserati 8C 3000/M

1932 Maserati 8C 3000/M 1932 Maserati 8C 3000/M 1932 Maserati 8C 3000/M Roadster
Chassis #: 3004
Sold for $1,001,000 at 2016 Bonhams : The Amelia Island Auction.
Five of the six surviving Maserati brothers would go on to become motor engineers. Even the sixth brother, Mario, would play a role in the marque's foundation, designing its famous Trident badge, which is said to have been inspired by the statue of Neptune in Bologna, where the factory was situated at Pontevecchio. Società Anonima Officine Maserati was set up in December 1914 by Alfieri Maserati with the purpose of repairing and tuning Isotta-Fraschini motor cars.

After The Great War, Alfieri and his brother Ettore were recruited to manage Diatto's racing programme. When that company withdrew from active competition, Alfieri, Ettore, and Ernesto Maserati, set up on their own. Their first product was a 1.5-liter supercharged straight eight intended for the formula that commenced in 1926. It had an auspicious debut when it won its class in the Targa Florio.

Because the Maserati was a low volume producer aimed at wealthy enthusiasts, they were relatively unaffected by the Great Depression. Between 1930-1932, the Maserati brothers built at least a dozen Maserati 26M and 26M Sport competition cars powered by straight-8 engines. These were followed by the 8C-2800 model, which came about after the cylinder bore of the 26M engine was increased to the maximum possible permitted by the '2500' block casting. Displacement grew from 2495cc to 2811cc and power reached 205 BHP. Bologna-based carburetor manufacturer Edoardo Weber collaborated with Maserati in perfecting the new engine's induction system, which in turn would elevate both the Maserati and Weber name.

The new engine was fitted into the proven 26M design chassis frame however the bodywork was refined and modified, gaining a lower profile and better aerodynamic efficiency. The Maserati 8C-2800 made its debut in 1931 at the French Grand Prix at Montlhèry where it was driven by Luigi Fagioli to a new lap record. By September, a second car was available for Rene Dreyfus to drive in the Monza Grand Prix, where Fagioli won.

Next came the '3 liter' cars which had the pre-fix '30'. Both 3001 and 3002 were registered in 1931 and raced in that year and the following year. Engine 3003 was sold in May of 1932 and the crankcase 30034 is also dated May 1932.

Maserati's new cars for the 1933 season were the 8CMs which made their debut at Tunis and Monaco - and Nuvolari used to win Spa in July.

The lack of documentation and charting numbers in period, along with rebuilding and reconfiguring of the cars, has left the history of the early Maserati cars hard to piece together in a precise fashion. To complicate things further, Maserati cars often had a long racing career which included many evolutions. During World War II, several of the cars were disassembled for storage, causing even more configuration. However, the fate of most of the 1933 8-cylinder Maserati are believed to be known.

The research into 3004 is ongoing and is not fully confirmed or understood. There are several theories and hypothesis. It is believed that eight-cylinder Maserati engine number 3004 may have begun life as the engine for an experimental front-wheel drive car in 1932. It was believed that when Alfieri Maserati died, the project was abandoned, and parts of the experimental car became the basis of the first 8C monoposto, chassis number 3004. Some research suggests this is not the case, since there is a rear axle (3004), along with contemporary photos showing the front wheel drive car as being a narrow chassis single seater format.

Official Maserati historian Ermanno Cozza's archives show that #3004 was driven to victory by Tazio Nuvolari in the Belgian Grand Prix; Nuvolari was displeased with the car; however, as it was unstable and narrow. After reinforcements were made at the Belgian Minerva factory, the car made appearances at a number of European grand prix races.

Other research shows that there may have been an 8C 3004, as documented in period but accounted for in history/number terms. There was a wide chassis single seater, which is identifiable by its higher profile of the tail of the body. Importantly, that car still had mechanical brakes in its later guise, whereas the others were converted to hydraulics and their chassis drilled accordingly.

It is believed that both of the first '3 Liter' cars, 3001 and 3002, were in America by the early 1960s, where they were discovered by Richard 'Dick' Merritt in two separate finds, together with numerous Maserati components, which included crankcase 3004. These would later pass to Cameron Miller, who later sold one to the late Bob Sutherland. Miller elected to keep the ex-Birkin car, 3002. At this point, all were supplied to expert Maserati restorer Peter Shaw to return the cars to the road. Mr. Shaw rebuilt the cars to the truest and highest possible standards of the day. Mr. Shaw was also able to negotiate the purchased of the extraneous crankcase, 3004. While restoring 3001 and 3002, Mr. Shaw was able to purchase a Maserati rear axle from John Hewitt. The axle had been retrieved from the garages of Roland Dutt, a noted former owner of 3001, and was none other than number 3004. He was later able to source a period (earlier) gearbox, number 26. Using his skills, Mr. Shaw created a new chassis and front axle. While he crafted bodies for the Sutherland and Birkin cars from the surviving bodywork panels, he matched a new two seater body for this car. He was also able to source an original aero screen, original oil tank, and the water filler cap.

After the car was completed, Mr. Shaw registered it for the road and campaigned it for a number of years, using it on the Mille Miglia in 1987. In 1989, he sold it to the present owner. The new caretaker treated the car to a total and thorough rebuild of its engine, preserving/restoring all the original components.

It has made multiple appearances at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, Summit Point, Lime Rock, Pocono, and The Ascent Hillclimb at the Elegance at Hershey. It has also been shown at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, Meadowbrook Hall Concours and at Radnor Hunt. It participated in its present form in the 1987, 1988 and 2001 Mille Miglias.

This car in monoposto form, according to Maserati Archives, was raced by Nuvolari in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in 1933. However, research by the current owner suggests that the crankcase 3004 was fitted to car 3001 by 1938 when the car began its spell in the United Kingdom. Research continued into the early history of the car, however it is not fully known. Since there was an engine and back axle 3004, it seems likely that there was a car 3004. For some time it was felt that the origins of 3004 might be connected with the 'Sperimental' Front Wheel drive car, which is known to have existed but was considered dangerous and was not pursued as a project, however logically the survival of a rear axle dispels such suggestions.

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 which 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 were campaigned in the 1932 and 1933 season 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 became 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 vehicles overall weight but vastly improved its performance. The 8CM's were 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

1932 Maserati Models

Concepts by Maserati

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