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New auction record for the Birdcage

Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage

Of all the models produced by Maserati since 1926, the rarest have established a strong following in the collector car world and have consequently reached staggering values on the auction market.

All eyes were thus turned on RM Auctions’s first ever sale in the Principality of Monaco on May 1st, where a rare Tipo 61 Birdcage was offered for sale. The entire sale was a runaway success for RM, with a total of 89 cars sold out of 105 offered and grossing a total of $44.7M. No less than twelve cars reached the million-dollar mark.

Bidding on the Birdcage picked up very quickly, reaching the hammer price of €2.2M within just a few moments. Adding buyer’s premium, the official sale result was €2.464.000 which translated into exactly $3.343.648 on the day. This is the highest amount ever paid for a Maserati at auction. The previous record was held by a 1940 8CL with Indianapolis history sold for $2.204.235 by Sotheby’s in Maranello in 2005, whereas the previous high mark for a birdcage was set by a Tipo 60 in London at just above $2M, back in 2001.

Rarity is clearly a factor here, with only 17 Tipo 61 ever built, as is period racing history. The Tipo 61 boasts a long string of victories, and the model’s most resounding successes were back to back overall wins at the 1000 Km of the Nürburgring in 1960 and 1961. The name Birdcage derived from the model’s peculiar chassis construction: a cage-like structure made of over 200 aluminium tube sections, resulting in extreme lightness (just 36 kg!) and excellent rigidity. The chassis allowed the Birdcage to compete successfully at all levels despite mountinf four-cylinder engines of just 2-litres for the Tipo 60 and 2.9-litres for the Tipo 61.

The car offered by RM (s/n 2470) was raced in period in the USA, boasting six outright victories and many podium finishes. It was offered in excellent condition with its original engine and a spare mounted in the car for historic racing, where it has been very active and still highly competitive right up to this day.