100 years

Twin rear wheels on Maserati Tipo 26MM

Maserati Tipo 26MM

The Maserati Tipo 26 MM is a sports car derived from the original Maserati Tipo 26, although it adopts only some of this car’s technical features. The Maserati brothers equipped the car with all the latest technical and technological inventions, specifically creating it for endurance races. In fact, the letters MM stand for Mille Miglia, and the Maserati Tipo 26 MM took part in the second edition of this race, which began on 31 March 1928, driven by a team comprising of Aymo Maggi and Ernesto Maserati himself.

Maserati Tipo 26 MM: the two spare wheels

The Maserati Tipo 26 MM marked a return to the distinctive design with a cut-off rear. This enabled the Brand to configure the back of the car differently depending on the races in which it was to take part. For the Mille Miglia, for example, the Maserati Tipo 26 MM was equipped with a trapezoid fuel tank installed behind the backs of the driver and navigator. Its capacity of 132 litres provided an excellent range, but in view of the space available at the rear, it also left room for two spare wheels. This was very important at that time, in view of the vast amount of debris on the roads along the route, which were often unpaved, causing puncture after puncture.

Maserati Tipo 26 MM: engineering

The Maserati Tipo 26 was a car conceived solely for racing and was not suitable for an endurance event like the Mille Miglia. Therefore, in the run-up to the second edition of the famous race, a Sport version of the Maserati Tipo 26 was prepared and it then underwent large-scale modification ready for the event. Amongst the many changes, the Maserati Tipo 26 MM was equipped with running-boards, headlights, a canvas roof and a small windscreen. The wheels were covered with motorcycle derived mudguards, while doors and compartments to take the tools and the battery were created in the sides. Naturally, it was fitted with a starter system, supplied by Bosch like all the electrics, making the car suitable for use on the road. Under the bonnet of the Maserati Tipo 26 MM there lurked a straight eight engine of 1,492.9 cubic centimetres, generating a massive 128 horsepower at 6,000 rpm thanks to the Roots supercharger, which enabled this sports car to surge to a top speed of 180 kilometres an hour. It was fitted with Menini Super carburettors, mounted upstream of the volumetric supercharger, while the engine was coupled to a gearbox with four speeds and reverse. The modified chassis had two longitudinal members linked together by steel section cross-braces. The wheelbase of the Maserati Tipo 26 MM was 2,580 millimetres, and thanks to its unusual aluminium bodywork the car weighed just 840 kilograms.

Criticism at the Mille Miglia

The Maserati Tipo 26MM received an amount of criticism from rival teams equalled by few other cars in the Brand’s history. This was due to its technical excellence which, compared to the mechanics on which cars of the time were based, placed the Maserati brothers’ creation in a class of its own. The main criticisms levelled at the car concerned its specific racing configuration: the spirit of the event was that the cars taking part should be racing prototypes suitable for road use, meaning that the other producers converted their road cars into racing versions, while Maserati had developed a car specifically for the event. The Maserati Tipo 26 MM was thus unpopular with the competition, but it would have been the same for any Maserati model, given the other teams’ fear of the Bologna-based brand.

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