Featured Auction - 1960 Maserati 3500 GT Spyder
Maserati are often overshadowed by Ferrari, but it is not so long ago that the prancing horse was very much on the prongs of the Maserati trident.
* One of circa 242 Vignale Spyders made
* ZF five-speed gearbox
* Restored in the late 1990s
* Repainted to concours standard in 2003
* Registered in the UK
'The 3500 GT Maserati is a much underrated motor car, being overshadowed by the prancing horse from up the road in Modena. But it is not so long ago that the prancing horse was very much on the prongs of the Maserati trident in motor racing and there is that lovely big six-cylinder engine under the bonnet to remind one of the glories of the 250F.' - Edward Eves, Autocar, 3rd July 1976.
Despite numerous racetrack successes that included Juan Manuel Fangio's fifth World Championship - at the wheel of a 250F - and runner-up spot in the World Sportscar Championship with the fabulous 450S, both in 1957, the marque's most successful season, Maserati was by that time facing a bleak future. Its parent company's financial difficulties eventually forced a withdrawal from racing and Maserati's survival strategy for the 1960s centred on establishing the company as a producer of road cars. The Modena marque's new era began in 1957 with the launch of the Touring-bodied 3500 GT, its first road model built in significant numbers. A luxury '2+2', the 3500 GT drew on Maserati's competition experience, employing a tubular chassis frame and an engine derived from the 350S sports car unit of 1956. Its designer was none other than Giulio Alfieri, creator of the immortal Tipo 60/61 'Birdcage' sports-racer and the man responsible for developing the 250F into a World Championship winner. The twin-overhead-camshaft, six-cylinder engine was a close relative of that used in the 250F and developed around 220bhp. Built initially with drum brakes and a four-speed gearbox, the 3500 GT was gradually improved, gaining five speeds, front disc brakes and, finally, all-disc braking. By the time the 3500GT was discontinued in 1964, around 2,200 of all types had been made.
A car possessing such impeccable antecedents not unnaturally attracted the attention of Italy's finest carrozzeria: Allemano, Bertone and Frua all created bodies for the 3500 GT chassis. Most coupés were the work of Touring, while all but one (a Frua-bodied example) of the much less common Spyder version were the work of Carrozzeria Vignale. Making its international debut on 10th November 1959 at the Turin Motor Show, Vignale's Maserati 3500 GT Spyder was the creation of Giovanni Michelotti, at that time the company's star designer. Built on a slightly shorter wheelbase than the coupé (250cm as opposed to 260cm) and constructed of steel panels rather than the closed car's aluminium, the Spyder lasted in production until 1964, by which time 242 (some sources say 245) cars had been made, representing a little over 10% of 3500 GT production.
According to information supplied by Maserati Classiche (email on file), the Vignale Spyder offered here was manufactured on 29th August 1960. The original colour scheme was Argento Luna with black leather interior, and the engine was the 3,500cc unit with triple-Weber carburettors. The destination for delivery was marked as 'Los Angeles - USA'.
According to information supplied by the vendor, this Spyder was treated to a bare metal repaint in 2003 to concours standard with UK Maserati specialists McGrath Maserati completing the restoration. The rest of the car including the chassis, engine, interior, and electrical system, had been restored in the late 1990s, and is reported to remain in excellent condition throughout. The engine recently benefited from a new cylinder head gasket, while an electric cooling fan helps to maintain a healthy temperature. It should be noted that during the engine rebuild a replacement cylinder block was utilised and has been re-stamped with the original number. To enable the car to cope better with modern day traffic, the original four-speed gearbox has been replaced with a correct ZF five-speed unit as fitted to the later models.
Used frequently for touring and long distance events, this beautiful Vignale Spyder is reported to perform excellently. It has been fastidiously maintained by respected UK-based Maserati specialists Bill McGrath Ltd and comes with a huge history file.
A worthy rival to contemporary offerings from Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Mercedes-Benz, Maserati's 3500 GT Vignale Spyder ranks among the 1960s' most glamorous open sports cars.