1960 Maserati 3500 GT Vignale SpyderSOLD

RM Auctions - Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction - August 16-18

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Estimate: $225,000-$275,000 US

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of $275,000

240bhp 3485 cc twin overhead camshaft inline six-cylinder engine with triple 42 DCOE Weber carburetors, five- speed manual gearbox, four-wheel disc brakes, tubular steel chassis, independent front suspension with coil springs, solid rear axle on leaf springs and tubular shock absorbers. Wheelbase: 2600 mm (102").

The 3500 GT was the first volume built production Maserati. Introduced in 1957, these extremely handsome 3500 Grand Touring coupes became the company ’ s financial saviors during a particularly difficult period. Like Ferrari, Maserati tended to focus on its racing cars rather than road cars and the resulting irregular cash flow had put the company on a shaky financial footing by the end of the 1950s.

The prototype 3500 GT Coupe, bodied by Touring of Milan with their patented “ Superleggera ” (superlight) construction, was enthusiastically received and went immediately into production. The engine was a delight; Its twin-plug ignition immediately betrayed the racing origin of this high performance six. Both the cylinder block and the head were cast in light alloy with iron cylinder sleeves. Seven main bearings ensured reliability.

The 3500 GT was available as both a coupe with handsome Touring bodywork or the beautiful and considerably rarer Spyder with Vignale bodywork, introduced in 1960. The open bodywork of the Vignales featured their characteristic interesting details including a number of tasteful vents and scoops to augment the already well- proportioned and elegant lines. The Spyder also featured a four-inch shorter wheelbase than the coupe, which improved handling and road holding. Just 250 Spyders were built over a five-year period, compared to about 2000 coupes.

In May 1961, Road & Track tested a Maserati 3500 GT Spyder, commenting extremely favorably on its performance, handling and comfort. They compared it favorably with the Ferrari 250 GT they had tested a year before, noting particularly that the Maserati ’ s acceleration was nearly as fast as the Ferrari which had the benefit of a 4.57 rear axle compared with the Maserati ’ s 3.54. R&T ’ s testers also noted that the Maserati ’ s brakes, even though the test car was still fitted with drums on all four wheels, were impressive in both their stopping power and their resistance to fade.

Many improvements were incorporated during the rather lengthy six-year production period of the 3500 GT. Disc brakes, an option in 1959, became standard in 1960 and a ZF five-speed transmission replaced the former four- speed unit. Lucas fuel injection replaced carburetors, but it sometimes proved difficult to tune. Borrani wire wheels are rarely seen, as they were an expensive option when the car was new.

The example offered here is an early Spider from 1960 and is thus fitted with disc front brakes, a significant improvement over the all around drums of earlier cars. The car also has the simpler and more reliable Weber carburetors – the sight and sound of which have delighted enthusiasts for years. The car is also fitted with the desirable five-speed transmission and Borrani wire wheels.

A comprehensive restoration to extremely high standards has been carried out. Completed about two years ago, the car still appears fresh, showing only a handful of minor chips and flaws since completion. During the restoration, a host of Pebble Beach-winning shops were employed to do the work: the engine and wiring harness were done by Rod Drew`s FAI; the bodywork, paint, and bumpers were done by Beckman`s Metalworks; and the interior was done by Pete Engel`s Westminster Auto Upholstery.

The canvas top fits superbly and is extremely simple to operate, requiring mere seconds to erect and stow. In fact, it is not even necessary to get out of the car to operate it. The interior is in similarly excellent condition. The upholstery work is first rate, including the leather on the seats and door panels, and the carpet, which is high quality wool. The dashboard has been well-restored with new paint and restored trim and hardware, with the exception of the gauges which appear unrestored but very well preserved. Engine bay detailing is both correct and well done, including all the decals, plaques, and even the chain that attaches the oil filler cap to the cam cover. Finally, a set of period seat belts and an electric fan have been fitted to accommodate modern driving.

The driving experience of the car also reflects the quality of the restoration. The car has a nice balanced feel and seems well sorted. There is no smoke, the transmission works properly, the brakes pull straight, and the suspension feels tight. With its disc brakes and five-speed transmission, the Maserati is considerably more modern feeling than other sports cars of the period.

This is an outstanding opportunity to acquire one of these rare and beautiful open cars that is capable of concours competition, yet restored to be driven and enjoyed. Historically undervalued, these cars have appreciated significantly in recent years because of their intrinsic beauty and technological features. Yet, when compared to other contemporary open Italian cars, they are a relative bargain – particularly in view of the soaring prices of Ferraris of the period.

Reference Number 10132

as of 6/1/2007

Car 1960 Maserati 3500 GT Vignale Spyder
VIN AM*101*1007 
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