Maserati 3500 GT Vignale Spyder
Maserati is one of the great Italian racing dynasties, building winning racecars throughout the prewar period. After WWII, the company began producing a series of sports racers, which would ultimately lead to the company’s first street cars.
Introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1957, the 3500 GT was a major departure for Maserati, a luxurious high-speed gran turismo that stunned the motoring public with its captivating design, technical innovation and coachbuilt appeal. Nearly 2,000 would be built during its nine years of production, a number that by all accounts is an order of magnitude greater than all the Maseratis built in the 30 years since Alfieri Maserati built and raced the Tipo 26.
Powered by a dual overhead camshaft six-cylinder engine developed by Ing. Alfieri from Maserati’s experience with the A6 and 350S, the 3500 GT became an important competitor in the luxury GT market. By the time the Turin Show of 1957 arrived, Alfieri had redesigned the camshafts and other small details of the engine to make them more reliable for street use. The 3500 GT coupe was well received by motoring press, the distributors as well as potential customers.
The 3500 GT was available as both a coupe with handsome Touring bodywork or, as in this case, the beautiful and considerably more rare Spyder with Vignale bodywork, introduced in 1960. The open bodywork of the Vignale 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 2,000 coupes.
Road & Track tested a Maserati 3500 GT Spyder in May of 1961 and commented favorably on its performance, handling and comfort. They compared it 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.
These first production convertibles were fitted with four-speed transmissions and a bonus of electric windows. Over the years many improvements were incorporated during the 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 they sometimes proved difficult to tune. Borrani wire wheels were also offered though are rarely seen, as they were an expensive option when the car was new. The cost for these racy open Italian sports cars was a pricey $12,300 when new.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2012 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.
220 bhp, 3,485 cc twin overhead camshaft twin-plug inline six-cylinder engine with triple 42 DCOE Weber carburetors, five-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with coil springs, solid rear axle on leaf springs and tubular shock absorbers, and four-wheel Girling disc brakes. Wheelbase: 98.4"
Source: RM Auctions