1961 Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder  Chassis no. AM 101.1319 Engine no. AM 101.1319

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Lot 213
1961 Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder
Chassis no. AM 101.1319 Engine no. AM 101.1319

Sold for CHF 346,050 (US$ 363,740) inc. premium
1961 Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder
Coachwork by Carrozzeria Vignale

Chassis no. AM 101.1319
Engine no. AM 101.1319
Body no. 167
Hardtop no. 167

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 3500GT, its first road model built in significant numbers. A luxury ‘2+2’, the 3500GT 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 3500GT was gradually improved, 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.

Chassis number ‘1319’ was ordered in the spring of 1961 and delivered new to first owner Marc Frederick, of Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, a well known movie producer. The Avviso Spedizione (dispatch note) is dated 24th July 1961 and records Mr Frederick as the first owner, the car being shipped by sea to San Francisco and delivered finished in red with matching hardtop and white leather interior. The Spyder was equipped with Weber 42DCOE carburettors, the five-speed gearbox, front disc brakes and rear drums. As well as the Avviso Spedizione, the car comes with its Certificato d'Origine, 1961 Italian homologation papers and even the Foglio di Montaggio (quite rare to have with a Maserati) listing the build specification.

At its owner’s request, ‘1319’ was re-equipped with the larger Weber 45DCOE carburettors and an alternator (instead of a dynamo) which was done at the Los Angeles dealership by Maserati factory mechanic Barbieri. At some point the five-speed gearbox was replaced by a four-speed unit and the car retains all the above mentioned modifications. All the foregoing information and copy documents were supplied to the vendor by Mr Ermanno Cozza, Maserati Consulenza Storica, who knows this car well.

In 1968 the Maserati was sold to Mr Frederick A. Usher, who is believed to have kept it until 1972. The car was sold and shipped to Brescia, Italy in 1989, complete with hardtop, and five years later was sold to the owner of Best Auto, Casalgrande, Modena minus its hardtop. Restoration was commenced by top specialists in the Modena region with the aim of building a perfect 3500GT Vignale Spyder. It was decided to change the colour combination from the harsh red with white leather to another official Maserati colour combination available in 1961: Canna di Fucile, (Gunmetal Grey) with blue leather and carpets.

The mechanical rebuild was commenced by Pinuccio Sports Car, Milano and later continued by Franco Tralli Maserati, Modena. The interior and soft-top were done by the well-known company Ferraresi of Ferrara. Bodywork and final build-up were undertaken by the small, but in Italy very well-known shop of Darles Bussetti with some subcontracting work out-sourced to various local specialists. In October 1996 the car was registered ‘ZA478EG’ in the name of Best Auto. The car was put in Best Auto’s showroom in 1997, where the vendor saw it for the first time. In 1999 it was sold to Mr Paolo Provenzi of Bergamo (a prominent collector) and registered in the name of his company, ‘Autoexotic’, in October 1999.

In May 2004 the Spyder was offered for sale at Bonhams’ Les Grandes Marques à Monaco Sale (Lot 239) and purchased by the vendor, who had loved it from the moment he first saw it in Modena in 1997. At that time the car showed circa 2,400 miles (approximately 3,860 kilometres) since restoration (when the odometer was zeroed) and was in superb condition - so much better than all the other 35(!) Vignale Spyders that its new owner had looked at.

The car was driven from Monaco to Modena for further improvement; Maserati expert, Dr. Adolfo Orsi being consulted to ensure originality. Giuseppe Candini Maserati in Modena carried out a major service and it was decided to remove the engine to enable the engine bay to be brought to concours quality. After consultation with Messrs Cozza, Candini and Orsi, a new exhaust was designed, made to measure and fitted to be factory correct for the 1961 model. The vendor also decided to have an original and unused ‘km/h’ speedometer installed for ease of use in Europe, and the equivalent mileage total was transferred.

The bonnet and front had suffered slight paint damage while in storage and so were stripped to bare metal and repainted. This work was carried out by Autosport (Bacchelli & Villa) and Pietro Cremonini, both in the Modena area, with photographic documentation. In July 2004 the vendor drove the car to his home in Amsterdam and since then it has been serviced at Italauto (Kees van Stokkum), Holland’s best workshop for classic Maseratis. Italauto overhauled the cylinder head and replaced the head gasket in the autumn of 2004.

Meanwhile, the vendor had succeeded in tracking down the original numbered hardtop, which Dr. Orsi had obtained in Brescia around 1994. The hardtop was complete but needed restoration and was sent to Pietro Cremonini for complete refurbishment. In October 2004 the car was driven to Cremonini’s workshop so that over the winter he could restore the hardtop and fit it. The work was carried out by Cremonini and Bachelli & Villa, with new trim by Fratelli Luppi in Modena, and completed just before Easter in 2005. Since then the vendor has used this most elegant car for pleasurable trips, European vacations, undemanding rallies and various concours d'élegance.

The Maserati has now been driven approximately 29,000 kilometres since acquisition and still is in extremely nice condition, as evidenced by its 1st place award at the 2006 Concorso Italiano at the Concours d'Elegance, Paleis het Loo, Apeldoorn. The next day it won the 1st place in its Class in the International Concours at the same venue. In 2005 the car had received the prize for ‘Most Beautiful Body Design’ at the same event. Since then the Spyder has completed a trouble free holiday trip (without hardtop) to Tuscany, Modena, Maranello, Lake Como and Switzerland covering some 5,000 kilometres.

During the summer of 2008, the car has been used for trips through Holland and the surrounding countries. In September the vendor drove the Spyder to participate in the Lions Rallye where it won 1st prize in the hotly contested Concours d'Elegance, which was under presidency of retired racing driver and twice Le Mans winner, Gijs van Lennep who also presented the trophy.

Because ‘1319’ has enjoyed regular use, it is in extremely good running order and drives very pleasantly. It is also by far the fastest of all the 3500’s the current owner has driven. As far as is known, the car has never been crashed or suffered any serious damage, which the specialists confirm. The soft-top and interior are still almost like new, while the under-bonnet appearance is extremely tidy and original except for an anti-theft device in the braking system, which has been well executed and looks period (but is not). Recently the original Borrani wheels (all date stamped inside ‘1961’) and spinners have been fully restored and rebuilt at Borrani in Italy. The car has been professionally freshened up cosmetically at one of the best body shops in Holland and serviced at Italauto, receiving a new APK (roadworthiness certificate) valid for two years.

Currently registered in the Netherlands on old-style blue plates, ‘1319’ comes complete with its matching-numbers hardtop (of which only about 40 were made), correct spare wire wheel, copied owner’s manual and extensive documentation and bills pertaining to its history. In Italy the Maserati has been granted a coveted ASI Targa Oro (number ‘15030’) recognising its fine quality. The car is currently fitted with a correct ZF four-speed gearbox, while a good but unrestored ZF five-speed ’box is available by separate negotiation.

The vendor searched high and low for a properly restored Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder before buying this example, which he has improved upon and enjoyed tremendously. However, he now believes that it is time for a new owner to enjoy the same wonderful experience, thus presenting discerning collectors with an exciting opportunity to acquire a quite exceptional example of this most sought after of classic Maseratis.

Saleroom notices

  • In addition to the extras stated in the catalogue, Lot 213 also comes with a custom made car cover and floor mats
1961 Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder  Chassis no. AM 101.1319 Engine no. AM 101.1319
1961 Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder  Chassis no. AM 101.1319 Engine no. AM 101.1319
1961 Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder  Chassis no. AM 101.1319 Engine no. AM 101.1319
1961 Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder  Chassis no. AM 101.1319 Engine no. AM 101.1319
1961 Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder  Chassis no. AM 101.1319 Engine no. AM 101.1319
1961 Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder  Chassis no. AM 101.1319 Engine no. AM 101.1319
1961 Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder  Chassis no. AM 101.1319 Engine no. AM 101.1319
1961 Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder  Chassis no. AM 101.1319 Engine no. AM 101.1319
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