1954 MASERATI A6 GCS On loan from Steve Schoenberg, Clifton Park, NY
While it looks sleek and modern, this updated Maserati sports racer’s timeless design actually dates to the early 1950’s.
“In 1953-54 Maserati built 54 of these beauties, each one customized for a specific racing team,” explains owner Steve Schoenberg. “The A6 GCS was the first of the lightweight racers, weighing a mere 1600 pounds, and was the predecessor to the very famous Maserati ‘Birdcage’ design.
“Each one had a custom body built by several different coach works. Quite often, people who see mine ask if it is a Cobra, but it’s the other way around, as the A6 GCS predates the Cobra by a decade.
“The car’s chassis was too light and thus not stiff enough to support the great torque developed by the powerful engine, so Maserati pioneered the one piece ‘monoque’ body to create the necessary stiffness.”
Time and racing accidents took a major toll on the original cars and bodies, so very few completely original A6 GCS bodies exist today. A few years ago one was auctioned for $2,000,000, so it is not surprising that an enterprising fabricator came up with an alternative source to meet the needs of Maserati enthusiasts.
“In the 1990's a very talented restorer in the state of Washington, Darryl Fling, built a body mold from an original body and produced seven hand-formed, one-piece aluminum bodies,” detailed Schoenberg. “My car was the last one built and is by far the most authentic. It was built out of many original parts and era appropriate components, including the drive train and the non-independent rear end with coil springs.
“One thing that is not original is the engine, which was built up from a 1969 aluminum Rover V-8 block and carries four Webber carburetors. It’s been modified to Maserati specs and delivers 280 hp.” The original Maserati powerplants were 1985 cc, short-stroke inline sixes with double ignition that produced some 170 hp, so the modern engine provides a significant increase in horsepower.
Other uses of modern technology included an epoxy skim coat that gives the Maserati its breathtaking, bright red finish, a reliable windshield wiper and a fire suppression system, all added by Latham restoration specialist Bob Ensign.
“I sought out three of these cars and rejected the first two because of their lack of authenticity,” summed up the proud owner. “My car has preserved the look, driving feel, weight balance and design details of the original 1954 vehicles. And it is, I believe, the only street-legal A6 GCS in New York State.”
“I have a passion for special Maseratis. I have a 1977 Maserati Khamsin which is one of only 15 originally made with a 5-speed transmission. The other 60+ were all automatics. And I own one of the 90 Maserati ‘90th anniversary’ Spyders produced in 2005 as well as the 1954 A6 GCS, which I love. You can count the existing ’54’s on your fingers. This American rebuild handles just like the classic Italian racer it emulates and is a joy to drive.”
The Schoenberg garage also houses a beautiful 1965 Series I E-type Jaguar that was the first place winner at the Berkshires British Car Invitational in 2012. But if you ask Steve which of the cars is his favorite, you won’t be surprised by his answer.
“If you’re talking about taking my wife for a picnic, it’s a toss-up between the Jag and the 2005 Spyder. But when it comes to taking an evening drive in the farm country of Saratoga County, the hands-down winner is this ’54 Barchetta!”