Written by independent automotive journalist Geoffrey Isabelle
Upon its introduction at the 1957 Geneva Auto Show, Maserati’s 3500 GT marked a significant turning point for the storied Italian sports car maker. Up to that point, Maserati focused on building racing cars, supplementing them with a handful of high-strung, thinly disguised racers for the road. In order to stay viable in the face of competition from Ferrari, Aston Martin and Jaguar, they needed a flexible, reliable sports car capable being built in more significant numbers.
With the 3500 GT, Maserati had its first car designed for volume production, but they did not skimp on style or performance in the name of “mass” production. At its heart was a 3.5-liter twin-cam, twin-plug inline six that produced nearly 250 horsepower on a trio of Weber carbs. The engine was derived directly from the 350S sports racing car, and traced its roots to the fabled 250F Grand Prix cars. Despite an eye-watering $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.
While the majority of 3500 GTs were sold with coupe bodies by Carrozzeria Touring, just 245 very lucky (and wealthy) buyers got their hands on the gorgeous, open-topped spyder by Carrozzeria Alfredo 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 styling on the 3500 GT Spyder was elegant and balanced, and with the performance to match its good looks, it was the epitome of Italian Grand Touring in the early 1960s.
This gorgeous 1963 Maserati 3500 GT Vignale Spyder (Lot #1394) that will be crossing the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction block on Saturday, January 20, 2018, is chassis number 101.1145, delivered new in Torino, Italy, in the summer of 1962. It was imported to the United States in 1969 and spent many years in California and then Texas. It has recently been treated to a sympathetic restoration, which was completed in 2017, in the original colors of Blu Sera over Rossa leather. The stunning Vignale coachwork looks magnificent in dark blue with just a hint of metallic sparkle. Ferrari fans might notice a bit of 250 California in the shape of the rear quarters, which is no coincidence, as the Maserati 3500 GT was a direct competitor to Ferrari’s 250-series cars.
A striking red leather cabin provides a beautiful contrast against the metallic blue paint. The blue canvas soft-top is fully lined for comfortable cruising in all conditions, and the dash retains the factory-applied blue paint as well as original gauges, switches and steering wheel; all in excellent condition. The highly valuable factory tool kit and jack are included, 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 is comprehensively finished with correct hose clamps, wiring and plumbing, while the chassis has been detailed with correct colored shocks, brakes, and other components.
As a 1963 model, this car features many significant improvements over the earlier models such as 4-wheel disc brakes, a ZF 5-speed manual transmission and beautiful, highly desirable polished alloy Borrani wire wheels. Furthermore, on this car the troublesome Lucas mechanical fuel-injected engine has been replaced with a reliable and proven triple Weber carburetor spec unit. Twin-plug ignition, dual overhead camshafts and race-proven design translate into 240 horsepower and near 150 mph performance.
Beautiful, rare Vignale coachwork and 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, is a worthy addition to any collection; a fabulous driving sports car with race-bred DNA from one of the most legendary Italian marques of all time.
For up-to-date information on this vehicle, click HERE.