The Earls Court Motor Show 1963 Maserati Sebring Coupé Coachwork by Carrozzeria Vignale Registration no. 41 GUV Chassis no. 1817 Engine no. 1817
Introduced in 1962, the Sebring was one of the final manifestations of the landmark 3500GT, which had been the linchpin of Maserati's programme to establish itself as a manufacturer of road cars. 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 Sports Car 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 forced a withdrawal from racing and Maserati's survival strategy for the 1960s centred on switching production from competition to road models. The Modena marque's new era began in 1957 with the launch of the Touring-bodied 3500GT, its first road car built in significant numbers. A luxury 2+2, the 3500GT drew heavily on Maserati's competition experience, employing a tubular chassis frame and an engine derived from the 350S sportscar unit of 1956. Suspension was independent at the front by wishbones and coil springs, while at the back there was a conventional live axle/semi-elliptic arrangement. The 3500GT's 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 initially, later examples producing 235bhp on Lucas mechanical fuel injection. Built initially with drum brakes and four-speed transmission, the 3500GT was progressively updated, gaining five speeds, front disc brakes and, finally, all-disc braking. 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 3500GT 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. Introduced in 1959, Vignale's Maserati 3500GT Spyder was the creation of Giovanni Michelotti, at that time the company's star designer. Built on a slightly shorter wheelbase - 250cm as opposed to 260cm - than the coupé and constructed of steel panels rather than the closed car's aluminium, the spyder lasted in production until 1964, by which time only 245 cars had been made. Built on the short-wheelbase chassis of the spyder and likewise styled by Vignale, the Sebring 2+2 coupé arrived in 1962. By now a five-speed gearbox, four-wheel disc brakes and fuel injection were standard equipment, with automatic transmission, air conditioning and a limited-slip differential available as options. Introduced in 1965, the Sebring Series II came with a 3.7-litre, 245bhp engine while some cars left the factory with 4.0-litre units towards the end of production in 1966, by which time 591 Sebrings had been built, around 400 of which were in the first series.
The 1963 Earls Court Motor Show display car, '41 GUC' was tested soon after by Autocar magazine (27th September edition, copy on file) and it is interesting to note that with a price tag of £5,116 (tax paid in the UK) the Maserati was some 22% more expensive than the Aston Martin DB5 launched later that same year. This car has been known to marque specialists Meridien Modena for around 20 years, during which time it has been progressively restored to the present exemplary condition, including a recent full engine overhaul. The current odometer reading is 20,000 miles, which is believed equates to a total mileage of 120,000 from new. A beautiful example of a 'Series I' model retaining the correct fuel injection, '41 GUC' is finished in Verde Metallico with Avorio leather interior, Nero dashboard, and Avorio carpets. The car is offered with sundry bills, current MoT certificate and Swansea V5 registration document.