Few cars combine form and function like the 1960 Maserati Tipo 61 “Birdcage.” Beneath its stylish exterior, the Birdcage was one of the most advanced cars of its time, as Jay Leno and Jeff O’Neill, owner of the car featured here, explain on a recent episode of Jay Leno’s Garage.
The Birdcage got its name from its chassis, which was constructed from an intricate network of 200 thin chrome-moly steel tubes. This maintained structural rigidity while saving weight. The bare chassis weighs just 155 pounds, while the entire car tips the scales at around 1,800 pounds, according to O’Neill. A look under the tiling nose shows some of that tubular structure. The design also allowed the chassis to sit very low, as evidenced by the protruding wheel humps.
The first Birdcage variant was the Tipo 60 of 1959, which used a 200-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4. The car featured here is a