Upon its introduction at the 1957 Geneva Auto Show, Maserati’s new 3500 GT marked a significant turning point for the storied Italian sports car maker. Up to that point, Maserati was a boutique car maker, focused on building racing cars to compete in grand prix and sports car competition while their road cars were in essence thinly disguised racers, built and sold in just enough numbers to finance the racing department. But as their sporting successes faded and sales of competition cars slowed, the firm struggled to stay afloat. In order to stay viable in the face of competition from Ferrari, Aston Martin and Jaguar, Maserati needed a flexible, reliable and purpose-built GT car that was capable of production in significant enough numbers to boost the Modenese manufacturer’s bottom line.
With the arrival of the much anticipated 3500 GT, Maserati finally had its first car designed specifically for volume production; a car that would go on to save the firm from certain bankruptcy. Despite its “mass production” aspirations, the 3500 GT was still very much an exclusive automobile built for the connoisseur. Maserati did not skimp on style or performance in the name of production, either. At the heart of the 3500 GT was a 3.5 liter twin-cam, twin-plug inline six that produced nearly 250 horsepower on a trio of Weber carburetors. The engine a direct descendent of that used to power the 350S and 300S sports racing cars, as well as the legendary 250F Grand Prix cars. Despite the astonishing $13,000 price tag in 1960, the 3500 GT proved to be popular with buyers, with production reaching 2,400 units between 1957 and 1964, more than any previous Maserati model, and setting the firm on a new path to success for the remainder of the decade.
While the majority of 3500 GTs constructed were sold with closed coupe coachwork by Carrozzeria Touring, just 245 very lucky (and wealthy) buyers got their hands on the gorgeous, open topped Spyder by Carrozzeria Vignale. One look and it is easy to see why the 3500 GT Vignale was seen as a direct competitor to the Ferrari 250 California built just down the road in Maranello. The 3500 GT Spyder was a gorgeous machine, with a distinctly Italian balance of restraint and flair. Astute observers might notice a bit of the 250 California in the shape of the rear quarters, which is no coincidence, as the new Maserati was seen as a direct competitor to Ferrari’s 250-series cars. But thanks to the burly inline six, the Maserati retained a unique character and provided ample performance to match its stunning good looks and today is counted among the most quintessential Italian Grand Touring cars of the 1960s.
We are very pleased to feature this stunning 1963 Maserati 3500 GT Vignale Spyder; chassis number 101.1405. According to the included Maserati Classiche documents, this breathtaking automobile was delivered new to an Italian buyer in Torino via Autosalone Renzo Bordese in the summer of 1962. It came very well equipped from new, with Borrani wire wheels and ZF 5-speed gearbox. Build sheets also show it was delivered in Blu Sera over Marrone Connolly hides with matching carpets. This lovely Vignale was enjoyed in Italy for several years before being imported to the United States in 1969 where it spent many years in both California and Texas. It has recently been treated to a sympathetic restoration which was completed in late 2017, and now presents in beautiful condition throughout. Finished in the original shade of Blu Sera which complements the new Rossa leather, the stunning Vignale coachwork looks positively delectable in its dark blue livery with just a hint of metallic sparkle.
A striking red leather cockpit provides a beautiful contrast against the metallic blue paint. Seats, door panels, center console and the rear shelf are all trimmed in supple red hides, presenting in freshly restored condition. The dark blue Haartz canvas soft top complements the paint work very nicely, and is fully lined for comfortable cruising even at high speed; while and a red leather top boot can be snapped in place when the roof is folded. The dash retains a great number of its original features, including the factory-applied blue paint as well as original gauges, switch gear and steering wheel; all in excellent condition. The highly valuable factory tool kit and jack are included in their original pouches, and even the ultra-rare quilted trunk mat and hood insulation is intact and in amazing original condition.
As part of the restoration, the engine bay has been comprehensively detailed with correct finishes, fittings and hardware used throughout, with the careful attention given not to erase the rough-hewn nature these cars exhibited when they left the works. At an unknown point in its life, the troublesome Lucas mechanical injection-spec engine was replaced with the current unit; a proven and vastly more reliable triple Weber carburetor specification engine. It is, however, important to note that the original, matching-numbers block, verified and documented by Maserati Classiche (internal number 1333), will be included in the sale. Regardless of spec, the twin plug ignition, dual overhead camshafts and race-proven design translates into 240 horsepower and near 150 mph performance, along with that signature raucous Maserati soundtrack. Along with the careful engine detailing, the chassis is presented with correct colors on the shocks, brakes, and major components. As a 1963 model, 101.1405 benefits from many significant improvements over the earlier models such as four-wheel disc brakes, the optional ZF five-speed manual transmission and a set of beautiful, highly desirable polished alloy Borrani wire wheels, all fitted from new and documented by the Maserati production records. It has been very well sorted and would make a very fine choice for a wide array of tours, rallies and events.
Beautiful and rare Vignale coachwork along with the robust and powerful Maserati drivetrain combine to produce one of the most desirable Italian GT cars of the era. This stunning machine, fresh from restoration and positively resplendent in its presentation, is a worthy addition to virtually any collection; a fabulous driving sports car with race-bred DNA from one of the most legendary Italian marques of all time.