The Panini Museum’s Maserati collection
The Umberto Panini Classic Car Collection is one of the most fascinating exhibitions dedicated to Maserati. Cars that have made Maserati history and that have been lovingly gathered over the years are housed in a typical building in Cittanova, Modena.
Originally the brainchild of the Maserati brothers and expanded by Omar Orsi, the collection has remained more or less intact to the present day. It is now run by West (a company owned by the Panini family) and includes 23 cars on display and three that are currently undergoing restoration.
Amongst the collection’s highlights is the Maserati Tipo 6CM. Just 27 examples were built between 1936 and 1939. Inspired by the V8RI, the 6CM was technically advanced for its time with its front suspension featuring torsion bars.
Another star car is the Maserati A6G/54 (1954-1957) with its Allemanno designed bodywork. Taking over the baton from the A6G 2000, this car was fitted with the twin overhead camshaft engine from the glorious A6GCS and marked a leap in quality for Maserati. This improvement was also seen in the car’s prestigious finish and its accessories including the radio and heating system.
Another interesting model is the Maserati Tipo A6GCS Berlinetta Pinin Farina. Following its debut in the 1953 Mille Miglia, the A6GCS notched up many wins on the track to the joy of factory drivers and privateers alike. Only four examples of this Pinin Farina designed car were ever produced, usually in a droptop version.
The Maserati 3500 GT Carrozzeria Touring transformed the company from a producer of racing cars to a company that manufactured roadgoing models. Launched in 1957, the bodywork was produced by Touring, an outfit based in Milan.
The only example of the Maserati 420M/58 Eldorado was built for the 1958 500 Miles of Monza and saw the great Stirling Moss battle for the lead.
The Eldorado introduced Europe to the concept of total sponsorship of a car by a company unrelated to racing.
The Maserati Mistral, with its Frua bodyshell, was presented at the 1963 Turin Motorshow with the spider version coming onto the market a year later. The car was the perfect combination of tried and tested mechanics in a new and eye-catching form.
The design of the Ghibli Carrozzato Ghia came from Giorgetto Giugiaro, then working as a freelancer. This stunning coupé (followed by a magnificent spider version of which 140 examples were produced) had an aggressive, aerodynamic yet understated shape.
Universally known as the best ever interpretation of a Sport racecar, the Tipo 61 Birdcage was preceded in 1959 by the Tipo 60, with its 2000 cc engine, and then by the Tipo 61. The two cars were both light and rigid, qualities that came from the chassis’ novel design. Constructed from 200 small tubular sections (with diameters that varied from 10, 12 and 15mm), the weight of the chassis was kept down to 36 kg.
The only example of the Maserati Simun, presented at the 1968 Turin Motor Show was Ghia’s proposal for a new Maserati 2+2 coupé based on the Tipo 166 chassis. Instead, Maserati opted for the version presented by Carrozzeria Vignale at the same show. This had more modern looks and took the name ‘Indy’ when it went into production.
The Panini collection also includes the Bora, from Giorgetto Giugiaro’s Italdesign and produced from 1971-1979. The Bora was the first mid-engined Maserati granturismo.
The only example of the Merak Turbo is also on display, the experimental prototype planned for the American market and fitted with a 3000 cc turbo engine, never reached the production stage.
The Bertone designed Khamsin (produced from 1972-1982) will also attract interest. The replacement for the Ghibli, it differed from it mechanically in that it had independent rear wheels and a new, Citroen developed braking system.
Another unique example is the Tipo 124 designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. This car drew its inspiration from the futuristic Maserati Boomerang (created using the Bora’s mechanical components ). The prototype was presented at the 1974 Turin Motor Show, with a Giugiaro body and was the replacement for the 2+2 Indy coupé.
To round things off is the 1992 Barchetta, a model with which De Tomaso relaunched the ‘barchetta’ theme. A modern take on the fantastic A6GCS, it was known for its backbone chassis, push rod suspension and composite bodyshell. Thirteen examples were produced.