Bookshelf: Maserati 4CLT -  The remarkable history of chassis no. 1600

The car that set Juan Manuel Fangio on his way to five World Championships, Maserati 4CLT chassis no. 1600, is the subject of the latest addition to Porter Press’ Exceptional Cars series. Painted in the bright blue and yellow national colours of Argentina, this was one of two 4CLTs bought by the Automovil Club Argentino (ACA) with the support of President Juan Péron to demonstrate the nation’s sporting prowess on the world stage.

For Fangio, the ACA’s plan worked well: after winning two European Grands Prix in 1949 and 1950 in 4CLT serial number 1600, and more in its sister car, he was recruited by the works Alfa Romeo team for the majority of the 1950 season and won the first of his world titles with Alfa the following year. 

The 4CLT was introduced in 1948 as a state-of-the-art race car for the voiturette category, its 1491cc four-cylinder engine producing 260bhp with the help of a two-stage supercharger, and proved fast enough to win races when the works Alfa Romeos were absent. On the model’s race debut, at the 1948 San Remo Grand Prix, 4CLT drivers Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi scored a one-two.

Story Highlights:

  • How the 4CLT was developed from the 1939 4CL and how Maserati moved from voiturette to Formula 1 as the foremost supplier of cars to private teams.
  • The races in 1600 by Fangio and three other rising stars, Benedicto Campos, Onofre Marimón, and José Froilán González.
  • Profiles of the men who raced 1600.
  • The car’s return to Argentina, where it was fitted with a Ford V8 for local events.
  • How the car was re-discovered, restored and rebuilt to its original specification, and went on a journey from Argentina to the United States and Japan – this part of the book reads like a detective story! – before settling back in Europe in historic racing.
  • A personal account of driving and running the car from a former owner, who describes the daunting task of recreating a Maserati 4CLT engine from scratch.
  • Profusely illustrated and including many previously unpublished photographs.
  • An insight into the vibrant post-war racing scene in South America, pieced together by author Cristián Bertschi, a specialist in tracking the history of cars of this era.

Bertschi trained in industrial design and lectured at the University of Buenos Aires until 2000, when he discovered that he could turn his passion for cars and motorsport into a full-time job. He has written for publications such as Het Klaverblaadje, Cavallino and Automobilsport. 

Exceptional Cars Series No. 6, Maserati 4CLT -  The remarkable history of chassis no. 1600 is published by Porter Press International on January 18th. The RRP of the 128 page hardback imprint is £30, ISBN: 978-1-907085-75-8.

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