Maserati took home its fourth consecutive victory at Targa Florio on May 23, 1940, with legend Luigi Villoresi behind the wheel of a Tipo 4CL. Now 80 years later, the company is celebrating those historic wins by looking to the future.
This isn't the first time we've seen the upcoming Maserati MC20 sports car – the company has been teasing the camouflaged prototype since November. But these new images show the coupe in Sicily, tackling some of the same twisty roads that Villoresi did in his Tipo 4CL more than 80 years ago.
Admittedly, these photos don't show much of the actual vehicle. The photos released earlier this month actually give us a better glimpse of the MC20's final design. But joined by a few historic shots of the Tipo 4CL, this latest teaser proves that Maserati is indeed drawing influence from its racing history in the development of the new sports car.
"The MC20 marks the start of a new era for the Italian brand in terms of both style and technology," the company said in a statement. "It is also the first car to use the new engine, brimming with innovative technological contents, developed and built by Maserati in-house."
Gallery: Maserati MC20 Targa Florio Teaser
As far as what will power the MC20, the latest rumours point to a Maserati-developed, twin-turbocharged V6. That engine could produce as much as 600 bhp and should come paired to an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox. There may also be convertible, hybrid, and even fully electric variants down the line. But we won't know much else until the MC20 debuts later in the year.
Maserati originally planned to show the MC20 sports car this month, but has since pushed back the debut until September due to the coronavirus pandemic. The debut event, dubbed "MMXX: The Way Forward," will also include a brand relaunch.
Gallery: Maserati MC20 Prototype Dedicated To Sir Stirling Moss
On 23 May 1940, Maserati celebrated a fantastic four wins in a row at the Targa Florio. In fact, a House of Trident car was first over the finishing line of the prestigious Sicilian race for the fourth consecutive year. The driver who added his name to the winners' board was Luigi (Gigi) Villoresi, at the wheel of the Maserati Tipo 4CL.
To celebrate the 80th anniversary of this historic victory, Maserati went back to Sicily with an MC20 prototype, and drove it over some of the roads where the history of the Targa Florio was written, such as the stretch where the famous Floriopoli stands are located.
The new supercar's development thus proceeds with tests in different conditions of use, with the aim of gathering data and information for the final fine tuning.
After the first batch of tests performed using the dynamic simulator at the Maserati Innovation Lab in Modena, the time has now come for road and circuit test drives.
The MC20 marks the start of a new era for the Italian Brand in terms of both style and technology; it is also the first car to use the new engine, brimming with innovative technological contents, developed and built by Maserati in-house.
Through the new MC20, to be launched in September, the Modena-based manufacturer aims to underline its sporting credentials, and to return to a leading role on the racing circuits, after the latest world championship won in 2010 with another extraordinary car, the MC12.
Created in 1939, this single-seater was the brainchild of Ernesto Maserati, youngest of the Maserati's founding brothers, who wanted to design a car that would be competitive in “Voiturette” class racing. The 4CL, with displacement of 1,491 cc, was built on the chassis of the 6CM but with a new four-cylinder engine with four valves per cylinder, the first in Maserati's history. It was an extremely advanced engine for its time, with "square" internal dimensions of 78 x78mm which, with the aid of a volumetric turbocharger, developed 220 hp at 8,000 rpm.
At the car's racing debut in Tripoli, at the 1939 Libyan Grand Prix, Gigi Villoresi took pole position with the aerodynamic version of the 4CL. Its first win came two Grand Prix later, in Naples, when it was driven by Englishman John Peter Wakefield, who went on to achieve two further victories in France, at the Picardie and Albi GPs.
In the second half of the 1930s, the Targa Florio was held at Palermo on a circuit designed within the Favorita Park, over a total of 40 laps. The first to finish was Gigi Villoresi, the pre-race favourite, who also set new records for the race average speed (142.288 Km/h) and the lap time (147.201 Km/h). Also taking part in that edition (the 31st), in his first racing season and at the wheel of another Maserati, was Alberto Ascari.
Villoresi thus won the last race run in Italy and Europe before the Second World War, a result that confirmed the Modena-based constructor's supremacy.
More wins were to come in the postwar period. At the wheel of the 4CL, Villoresi himself was to win the Nice Grand Prix in April 1946, with more victories to follow for French ace Raymond Sommer, English driver Reg Parnell and the great Tazio Nuvolari. Further wins were recorded in 1947, and in 1948 the 4CL was replaced by the 4CLT, featuring the new tubular chassis and intake system with double-stage turbocharger.