A Date With la Mamma, A Special Maserati A6GCS
Photography by: Federico Bajetti
It is impossible not to appreciate cars like the Maserati A6GCS. At the very least, it’s a time capsule to a different era in the history of motoring. Their stunning simplicity, the exposure to open air, and the intoxicating sound of the in-line six cylinder engine contributes to the car’s beauty. Being in such cars is like experiencing a piece of kinetic sculpture: on this example, every mechanical detail is wrapped in artful Fantuzzi bodywork.
The A6GCS is perhaps my favorite Maserati of all time. Being an admirer of all cars from the Tridente, I hate to pick my favorite among the A6GCS examples made, but…
Riding in one of these A6 sports cars has been in my bucket list for a long time. I always thought that it was an immense fortune seeing one in real life, let alone watching it run on the street.
You can imagine my surprise when I got a call from photographer Federico Bajetti, telling me that he had found via a common friend an A6GCS available for us.
I was more than happy to make the trip to the outskirts of Brescia, the stunning Brixia Motor Classic garage, where they kept the car, alongside many other Mille Miglia cars. The place was immense, and it’s one of those attractions that are worth a visit when you’re in the area.
We scheduled the photoshoot early in the morning in order to take advantage of empty roads and the bright morning light. Problem? Every time I schedule a project in the early hours of the day, I always forget to have a coffee. Nevermind: the drive in the Maserati was the best espresso I’ve had in ages.
We arrived to find the A6GCS parked outside the garage, the engine warming up. As I got closer to greet Enrico, he screams enthusiastically the words as he shakes my hand vigorously “A6 Ghisa Corto Sport by Fantuzzi!”. In that moment I had the clear impression that early Maseratis were named to confuse enthusiasts, with their seemingly endless list of sub-denominations.
In my life, I’ve heard everything from the GCS, G, G/54, 1500, 2000, TR, CM, CS/46, all paired with a different coachbuilder’s name. David Lillywhite said it right in Octane #128 “If there ever was a confusing model range, it’s the disparate bunch jumbled under the Tipo A6 banner”.
Riding in such an open car it’s so much fun. There is nothing to protect you from the elements, the doors are thin, there are no seatbelts, you feel the heat from the engine and transmission—and it doesn’t take too much imagination to figure out what the engine is doing.
The car’s 2.0-liter twin cam engine is smooth and very consistent in its power delivery. As we roll down the windy roads that surround the countryside, Enrico turns to me and says, “This is a much easier car than the Ferrari 750 Monza that we saw in Bergamo. This one is lighter and handles better, not counting that it has a smaller and more highly-developed engine. The
Ferrari is a 3.0-liter four-cylinder engine, and it is very nervous. This one is like a go kart!”
He’s right: the car takes the corners with little roll and with a minimum of understeer: it’s one of the most fun cars I’ve been in. The car is so light and the gearing so long that it seems to takes up speed effortlessly: at 2,000 rpm in second, this car was doing close to 60 mph. The gearbox is a delight: short shifts with a lovely mechanical “click” that increases the pleasure of driving it.
Its exposed tubular frame inside the cockpit is a wonderful sight and makes one smile, too: this hand-soldered metal was top technology back in the day! If I think about a modern lightweight composite chassis, I just think how far we’ve gone—and will go—when making cars.
Driving this back in the day would’ve been one of the best experiences for those who raced with it. The A6GCS we had that day was formerly in the property of Jim Hall, the founder of the Chaparral. One of the myths tied to this car is that drivers called it la Mamma, aka “the Mother”. The explanation to this is simple: it never betrays you when cornering. Whether this is real or not, I like to think so.