As the man who penned contemporary masterpieces such as the Ferrari Enzo and Maserati Quattroporte V, Ken Okuyama knows a thing or two about modernizng the classics. As such his latest creation, the Kode61 Birdcage, is a tribute to one of the most innovative race cars in Maserati’s storied history.
Debuting at the prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este show on the shores of Lake Como, Italy, the Kode61 pays homage to the Maserati Tipo 61, built from 1959-61, nicknamed the Birdcage. Its unofficial name derived from the fact that its frame was built from approximately 200 tiny steel tubes, sections of which were exposed in the cockpit, rather than a conventional undercarriage.
Without a heavy chassis, the Tipo 61 was about four minutes faster at the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans than its main rival, Ferrari. Unfortunately, issues with the drivetrain and its low windshield during a rainy race denied it a victory.
The Kode61 references the Tipo 61’s unique architecture with elements such as a trellis-like center console. The low-slung open-top two-seater also features arched fenders like the original, though the new car’s body is shaped by carbon fiber. Beneath those tall arcs are three-spoke wheels that appear to be borrowed from the Maserati MC20 supercar. The Kode61’s blue-on-white paint scheme is a nod to American racing team Camerodi, known for campaigning the Birdcages (the Maserati MC12’s paint scheme is a tribute to the same team).
This isn’t the first time the Tipo 61 was honored. Back in 2005, the Maserati Birdcage 75th concept was shown at the Geneva Motor Show to celebrate both the race cars and Pininfarina’s 75th anniversary. As it happens, that concept was also overseen by Okuyama, who headed Pininfarina at the time.
Technical details have not been disclosed, but Okuyama says he will produce the Kode61 in limited numbers from his coachworks in Yamagata, Japan.