The Birdcage Sings the Music of Maserati
If you’ve ever seen a Maserati Tipo 60 or 61, you’ll immediately understand why they were nicknamed “Birdcage”—there’s simply no ambiguity about it. Though any low-production, mid-century Italian race car is worthy of note, the ‘Cage’s famous calling card would likely have remained concealed beneath its impossibly low scuttle were it not for a Le Mans regulation change dictating minimum windshield height; by pushing the windshield base beyond the bulkhead, chief engineer Giulio Alfieri kept the car's overall height low while creatively skirting the rule.
Arguably the ultimate evolutionary form of superleggera construction, the 60/61’s trademark frame of about 200 small-diameter chromoly tubes was designed for extreme light weight and high strength—cutting-edge tech in the days before extensive use of aluminum honeycomb, carbon fiber, and other structural composites.
Thanks to Maserati’s typically relaxed (read: utterly chaotic) take on office administration and record keeping, the Birdcage’s history is a bit less obvious than its nickname; in fact, it’s downright murky in spots. Initially conceived as a privateer racer for wealthy domestic playboys, it was designed, engineered, and built on a budget. Consistent with much of their history, Maserati was struggling at the time to simply keep the lights on and the payroll checks from bouncing like an over-inflated Pirelli.