1939 Maserati 8CTF - Photo by LOGICSAYS
Inspired to compete against the German juggernauts Auto Union and Mercedes before World War II, the Maserati 8CTF was the brainchild of Ernesto Maserati. Having been saved from financial ruin by Italian industrialist Adolfo Orsi, the Maserati brothers were tasked with building a car to give the Germans pause. The eight-Cylinder Test Fissa, or 8CTF, was derived of two banks of four-cylinder blocks with an integral cylinder head (Test Fissa) that employed twin camshafts and two superchargers. The resulting output was 360 horsepower and made the 8CTF competitive with its German counterparts. In Europe the 8CTF consistently started off strong, chasing down the Mercedes W154 and giving Italian fans much joy. Despite reliability issues, an 8CTF driven by local driver Paul Pietsch managed a third place at the Nürburgring. In the States the 8CTF earned its most prominent victories at the Indianapolis 500 in 1939 and 1940 as well as back-to-back wins in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. Both Indy 500 wins were taken with driver Wilber Shaw behind the wheel. A couple turns in this relic of racing history will quickly teach a driver respect for racers like Shaw and Pietsch who drove these powerful and wily cigar-bodied cars to glory in a bygone era of racing.