1961 Maserati 3500GT Spider
- One of only 242 Vignale spyders built
- An original LHD, UK-delivery example
- Fitted with the rare and desirable five-speed ZF gearbox
- Class winner at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
- Accompanied by original tool roll, spare wheel, and hardtop
- Includes Maserati Certificate of Origin
Unveiled for the first time at the 1957 Geneva Auto Show, Maserati’s 3500 GT held the fate of the company in its hands. The chassis and suspension were much like its predecessor, the AG6/54, as they were composed of large-diameter steel tubes with sheet-steel stiffeners. Fitted with a detuned, twin-cam inline six-cylinder sourced from the 350S, the iteration fitted to the 3500 GT was tuned to offer more civilized road manners. Featuring twin spark-plug ignition and triple Weber carburettors, the engine produced 220 horsepower. With a ZF-sourced gearbox, Girling disc brakes, and a rear axle from Salisbury, the 3500 GT boasted an impressive specification, as well as an equally impressive top speed of 137 mph.
Coupe bodies were built by Touring, while the convertible version was constructed by Vignale, riding on a chassis two inches shorter than the coupe. The Vignale spyders proved to be the most desirable and rarest models, with only 242 spyders built compared to nearly 2,000 coupes. A fine array of chrome bezzelled Veglia/Jaeger instruments and a delicate thin-rimmed black Bakelite Nardi steering wheel complete the handsome and very well-appointed interior.
This example of Vignale’s elegant open-top interpretation of the 3500 GT spyder was originally finished on 23 February 1961. It was then ordered by Automar, the Maserati dealer in Genoa, for a Mrs Cesarina Arginelli on 7 April 1961. However, Mrs Arginelli would ultimately not take delivery of the car for reasons unknown. Several months thereafter, an English lord is noted as having visited the factory where he chose to buy the unsold Maserati. At his request, the car was fitted with wire wheels and a radio with an electric antenna, and equipped with gauges in miles. The car was then delivered to Mrs Teresa Mitarachi at her address in London in July. As originally ordered, the spyder was finished in the striking combination of Bianco Andalusia over a black leather interior. The car was also equipped with the desirable five-speed ZF gearbox and the optional Borrani wire wheels, as requested.
Several owners thereafter, the Vignale spyder was acquired by Maserati Club UK member Mr Michael Miles on 5 December 1970. Period photos from Mr Miles’s ownership show the car was still finished in its original colour combination. Interestingly, Mr Miles also owned a 3500 GT coupe, chassis AM101 088. Upon selling 1129 on 18 July 1975, he records the car as being equipped with the engine from his Touring coupe. In 1977, ownership passed to Frank Wilbur of the United States. Wilbur then sold the car to Frank Mandarano’s MIE Corporation in 1988; it then passed to noted Maserati collector Ivan Ruiz of Georgia later that year. Ruiz acquired the car with the bodywork stripped back to bare metal, and an extensive five-year restoration was immediately embarked upon. On completion, the car was entered in several concours events, culminating in a memorable class win at the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
In 2007 the 3500 GT spyder returned to Europe, and further restoration work was carried out by Maserati specialists Ital-Auto of Stuttgart, Germany. An estimated 500–600 hours were expensed on the repaint alone, and at the same time, the earlier replacement engine, which has since been restamped to match the chassis, was rebuilt and the interior retrimmed in black leather.
The car is accompanied by its original tool roll, factory documentation, Maserati S.p.A. Certificate of Origin, detailed restoration records, and an original and extremely rare factory hardtop. Eminently usable, impossibly stylish, and nicely presented, it is equally qualified for open road or concours d’elegance alike.To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/lf19.