August 28, 2009

Maserati 8CTF

A little history

Between 1934 and 1937, Grand Prix were run with no other limit than weight. This gave birth to such monsters as the Mercedes-Benz and the Auto Union, which crushed all of their rivals. The switch to a new formula for 1938 (4.5 litre normally aspirated, 3 litres supercharged) gave hopes to some that the German teams’ invincibility could come to an end. Maserati was among those, and prepared a new machine, the 8CTF, of which three chassis were built. This optimism was short-lived though, as both Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union proved able to dominate the new formula as they had done with the old.

An unexpected success awaited the 8CTF nonetheless. The third chassis was sold to the U.S., and the two ex-works cars soon followed the same way after the Maserati factory lost all interest in them. In 1939, Wilbur Shaw won his second Indianapolis 500 with an 8CTF and, even better, renewed his victory during the next edition of the race. In 1941, he had to retire, but was then again leading the race. The three Maseratis suddenly became very popular among American drivers. Actually, the very last 8CTF to appear on the paved oval was an ex-works car which unsuccessfully tried to qualify in… 1954! Most late entries had been re-equipped with 4.5-litre Offenhauser engines, replacing the original 3-litre Maserati. Hard to believe nowadays as any car winning a major event is immediately sent to a museum, Shaw’s double-winning car was entered eight times at Indianapolis until 1950!

About the model

Model: Maserati 8CTF “Boyle Special”
Year: 1939
Event: 1939 Indianapolis 500, driven by Wilbur Shaw (overall winner)
Maker: Grani & Partners
Scale: 1/43
Distributed by: Poligrafici as no.13 of its Maserati press series
Acquired: new with neither box nor stand (probably a production overrun or quality control reject), in December 2006, in Hong Kong, S.A.R.

This model was part of an Italian press series and, as most Grani & Partners products, its quality is more than acceptable. The plastic wire wheels and front grille are as good as can be, only photo-etched parts could possibly be better. Too bad these models are so hard to find for non-Italian collectors. My rating is 12/20.



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