1955 Maserati L/160/T4 Turismo Lusso
1955 Maserati L/160/T4 Turismo Lusso
- Engine: 158cc 4-stroke single cylinder
- Transmission: 4 Speed Manual
- Year: 1955
- Frame #: 3733
- Engine #: 3733
- Registration: 827 UYM
- Exterior colour: Red
- Interior colour and material:
- I acquired this Maserati 160 motorcycle in December 2014 from a Gentleman in Florence, Italy.
- According to the original registration documents that I have for this very rare and fully restored Maserati, it was sold by Fabbrica Candele Accumulatori Maserati on April 30th 1955 to a Signore Giulio Piani of Modena. The price paid was 216,000 Lire and it was registered with the licence MO 33294.
- It appears that this Maserati has been enjoyed by only three Italian owners from new before I acquired it and imported it into England.
- Signore Piani retained the motorcycle for twenty seven years, selling it in April 1982 to a Giorgio Marchesi of Vignola, in the province of Modena.
- In October 1988 the motorcycle was acquired by a Gentleman in Florence, Italy. The Gentleman, an Italian who was educated in Boston, North America, is known in the Italian historic car movement as a distinguished collector of important Alfa Romeo and other Italian cars.
- He registered the motorcycle in his son’s name, and it is believed that he had it restored some time in the early to mid 1990’s by Faralli Restauri who are located close to Pisa. This company specialises more in the restoration of important Italian sports cars rather than motorcycles, but it is presumed that the Gentleman used them to also restore some of his cars.
- The restoration of this matching frame and engine numbers Maserati was clearly executed to an exceptional standard, as even after twenty years of basement storage in Florence the motorcycle is in excellent condition.
- The Gentleman ended up owning two Maserati 160 motorcycles, the other one also having been restored by Faralli Restauri.
- In December 2014 I was contacted by an Italian friend of mine who is also friends of the Gentleman in Florence, asking me if I wanted to purchase both Maserati 160 motorcycles. This I was delighted to do and within a few weeks both motorcycles were in my showroom in Newbury.
- I obtained UK road registration for this motorcycle in August 2015.
Events I have exhibited and participated at with this Maserati:
- Kop Hill Climb, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, September 19th 2015.
- The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride, Central London, September 25th 2016.
A brief history of Maserati motorcycles:
- The sight of a Maserati badge on a classic motorcycle often surprises people, even those most familiar to the exotic Italian marque.
- Wealthy industrialist Adolfo Orsi from Modena purchased the ailing Maserati company from its founding brothers in 1937, and by then Maserati was producing spark plugs and machine tools as well as racing cars. In 1939 Adolfo relocated Maserati to Modena and expanded the company to produce batteries and bulbs too, a diversification that proved very successful during the war years. The car and parts companies were separated in 1947 and Fabbrica Candele e Accumulatori Maserati (FCAM) was formed.
- After business difficulties in 1953 Adolfo decided to divide his remaining companies amongst his siblings, resulting in Adolfo retaining the car manufacturing division and his sister Ida taking control of FCAM.
- Even FIAT cars were financially out of reach for most people after the war so motorcycles and scooters became extremely popular as relatively cheap modes of transport. Many companies diversified or were founded to produce two wheeled motorised transport and Ida Orsi wanted to be involved in this swiftly developing market, so to save money on development costs she purchased an existing company in 1953, Italmoto of Bologna. After relocating Italmoto and the production of its 160cc motorcycle to her own factory in Modena, she simply had the Italmoto badges replaced with Maserati ones and launched the model as the L160/T4. The four-stroke engine produced 7.5hp and had a four-speed gearbox.
- Ida then instructed the design department to come up with a whole new range of motorcycles, the first of which was launched in 1954. The new machine was a 4.8hp 123cc two-stroke (with a three-speed gearbox) known as the L125/T2 which became a successful model for the company.
- At the 1955 Milan Motorcycle Fair Maserati displayed not only their two-stroke 125 and four-stroke 160 machines, but also 175 (175/T4/S) and 250cc (250/T4/GT) motorcycles, both of which had four-stroke engines boasting twin-spark plug ignition, plus four-speed gearboxes. The 125 and 160 were now also available in Turismo Lusso specification.
- In 1956 a range of two-stroke 50cc motorcycles were introduced which featured several different styles of frames suitable for men (50/T2/U and 50/T2/S), women (50/T2/D), and racing (50/T2/SS). All models had a three-speed gearbox and performance for a 50cc was fantastic, especially on the SS whose little 49.6cc engine produced 2.82hp at 6,700rpm (maximum revs being 7,300rpm). A weight of only 49kg resulted in a top speed of 70 to 75kph. Less sporting but a lot more practical however, was the 50/T2/MT which was a three-wheeled pick-up style machine featuring a 2hp engine and three-speed gearbox.
- 1956 also saw the launch of the L/125/TV (Turismo Veloce) which sported a higher state of tune (6hp) than the regular 125 but importantly had a 4-speed gearbox, the gears of which were notoriously fragile due to the factory squeezing a fourth gear within the standard three-speed engine casings.
- Having learnt some lessons with the TV’s transmission, the 125/GT/Super (GTS) was launched in 1957 featuring a 7hp two-stroke engine but with a more robust four-speed gearbox within newly designed engine side covers.
- The L/75/T2 model was also launched in 1957 and was very similar in design to the 50/T2/U, but featured a 74cc 4.5hp two-stroke engine and a three-speed gearbox.
- Unfortunately, after 1957 the company experienced financial struggles and FCAM was finally closed in 1960. The Maserati trident would only then be seen on four wheeled vehicles, back where it all began.
- Despite being sensibly priced in their day Maserati motorcycles sold in very small numbers compared to their competitors resulting in all models being extremely rare, with some being rarer than others. Today, the 125 T2 and Turismo Lusso variants are the most common with the 160 not far behind. The 125 TV and GTS models appear extremely rarely and all 50cc and 75cc models are very rare. It is believed that despite adverts appearing at the time launching the 175 model it never progressed from prototype stage and as far as the 250 is concerned, only about twenty are thought to have ever been made.