Martin Logé Makes Maseratis Magnificent Again In Santa Barbara
Photography by Ted Gushue
Fantuzzi only made 10 450Ss and they were all right hand drive. Martin Logé didn’t like that, so when a scrap heap of a Maserati Mexico came through his shop, he saw an opportunity. He hand built his own 450S. This, of course, was in between other colossal projects and builds that have won him awards and accolades in the Maserati Community over the last 10 years.
He recently invited me up to his shop for the day, needless to say I’m very glad I accepted his invitation.
Ted Gushue: Martin, what’s going on up here in Santa Barbara?
Martin Logé: There’s a lot of people with great cars here. One of which is myself, I’ve been collecting cars since I was old enough to drive, have had hundreds of them. I’ve kind of latched on to a new hobby/career with Maserati. We’ve been restoring Maseratis for the last twelve years. We specialize in them, but we also do Alfas, Jags, Mercedes, and Porsches. But I have to say that we’ve really landed in a niche market with the vintage Maseratis, generally pre ’76, all the way back to the late ’40s.
TG: Did you identify that the market was being underserved and then focus your attention on Maseratis, or was it a passion that you already had that you just were excited to find a niche for?
ML: I liked all cars, I just couldn’t afford the Ferraris. They were generally just out of my reach. 330 GTCs were climbing in value, but I had always admired the Maserati styling, especially the Ghibli. I started looking at that car specifically, because they were still very affordable, and completely undervalued for what they were, and because the values weren’t strong, the people that owned them weren’t inclined to restore them and get them to the level of say a Porsche, or a Ferrari, or a Jaguar, where there’s clear delineation in the hobby between serious restorations and amateur fix up jobs.
So I started buying cars, restoring them, and showing them, and winning awards. Those people started following me, and coming to me saying, “Can you make my car better? Can you restore my car?” From an architectural career, I switched gears. I’ve been restoring cars on and off for my entire life, but then I got back into it ’07, I think, and pretty much this has now become a full-time business.
TG: What parallels do you find between architecture and car restoration?
ML: There’s a lot. A very similar process in terms of remodeling or building, it’s sum of the parts. It’s also the details. You have to really focus on the details, the quality. Making things, in terms of restoration, proper and correct, and then putting them together with a degree of attention and detail, and then hoping that sum of the parts is a worthy finished result.
TG: Generally speaking, what’s the breakdown in the projects you’re working on? How many are your projects and how many are client cars?
ML: A lot of people are getting into these cars. There’s a lot of old Maseratis, all different models coming out of the woodwork that were with families, sitting in barns, or garages over the years, and they’re still emerging to this day, and I’m finding them through connections, and they wind up here. We either sell them along after we get them together, and document them, as projects to various people. A lot of DIY people. A lot of the cars that we get, are clients cars, they find out about us, they come from all over the United States, they get trucked in, we do them, we send them out.
I have too many of my own projects, so it impacts the ability, and the amount of time, per day, to work on the other cars. That’s a lesson that we’re learning [laughs] don’t focus on your cars, work on the customer’s cars, but it’s hard not too, because you follow the passion. There are so many amazing cars out there, nowadays. Right now, I’m focused on Maseratis. I’ve been focused on Astons. I’ve been focused on Alfas, Jaguars, Porsches. Right now, for the last decade it’s been Maserati.
TG: What is in your shop now?
ML: Currently, we have three of my cars, and then we have, the rest of them are clients’ cars. We have a 3500 GT coupe, a Touring-bodied coupe; and we have a Vignale Spider which is undergoing an extensive two and a half year restoration, nut and bolt, full frame off-type restoration. We have another 3500 GT that is currently at the paint shop, getting painted. We have a Bora. We have two Ghiblis.
We have cars that are in collections that come in periodically to be serviced, dealt with, in terms of their needs, whatever doesn’t work, or polish them, and detail them. We do everything here. We do the paint, the chrome, the leather, mechanical, and all the chassis suspension detailing, gauges. I mean, basically the entire car. Sometimes, we send cars out to the paint shop where the budget doesn’t allow our level of work we can do a little bit less expensive paint job at an outside, subcontractor. They still look great.
TG: How many other guys like you are there in Santa Barbara?
ML: You know, Santa Barbara is a unique area. There are people that restore cars, here, but I don’t know any, at this point, that specialize in any particular mark. We’re kind of unique, more of a restoration shop, than a service shop.
TG: What’s the story of your two Mexicos?
ML: I kind of fell into the Mexico, about ten years ago. A friend of mine said, “Hey. I’ve got this parts car I want to get rid of,” it had some really great parts, it had the wire wheels, it had the 4.7-litre V8, with the five speed, so I bought the car initially for three thousand dollars. It was really rusty and brutal. The car came, and it was a real pile of crap. I looked at it, kind of walked around it, and decided right then and there it was going to be scrap, and it was going to be a parts car. Before I did anything, I went down to the clinic and got a tetanus shot. That’s how rusty the car was.
I started selling parts off of it, and kind of disassembling the car little by little and as I got into it, I started to fall in love with the shape and the lines, and it was a really scary green, called Gamma Verde, which is a electric metallic green, very ’60s in its color, and with a beige interior. As time progressed, I realized this car was too good to chop up
Fortunately, I found a good body shell from Kyle Fleming, who was the granddaddy of Maserati in the United States, in terms of having parts, doing restoration, and he was pretty much the icon, go-to guy for many, many decades in the United States, he’s since retired. I bought a body shell from him, and I was using a lot of the sheet metal to repair the car, and we made new floor boards, so basically we took the car apart, stripped it to the bare metal, found all the rust, and then rebuilt the car using the leftover parts, which had left an entire storage cabinet of used Maserati Mexico parts. As I’m looking at these parts, I’m thinking, God, I could make another car out of all of this, I just need to do a different body.
A friend of mine had a reproduction Jaguar Lightweight E Type, that was re-fabricated by RS Panels in England, he says, “Why don’t you do a recreation of an old vintage Maserati?” Of course, the best one that comes to mind is the Fantuzzi-designed 450S, they made ten of them, all right hand drive. It was the fastest race car of the period. There was no car as fast as this, by a long shot. They only made ten of them, there’s still all available, they’re still in private collections, and they do race, periodically. They’re spectacular cars. I thought, you know what? I’ve got all the components here, all I needed to do was the body. That’s what kind of lead me to do the race car. Now, I have two Mexicos. One doesn’t look like a Mexico, but it still is Mexico in its blood, and its genes.
TG: What’s it powered by?
ML: The engine in the race car, the 450S, is a 4.9 V8 from a Quattroporte. It’s a better engine, better castings. It’s still from the lineage of the original do overhead cam V8, 450S engine. Very similar in appearance. A lot of modifications over the years, but now it’s bored out to five liters. It’s got oversized valves. Special cams. Special pistons. Dual Carrillo rods. The entire engine has been customized and maximized to put out much more horsepower than it did originally. It’s close to four hundred, maybe a little bit more horsepower, right now.
The entire suspension, and everything is all Maserati, but it’s been reconfigured to be modern state of the art. The car is all, basically all used Maserati parts, except for the transmission is a Tremec T5. Rear axle is all Maserati, but then everything has been modified, and upgraded to be race spec. The car is quite formidable in terms of its performance. When we finished the car, we weighed it—came in at 2,175 with fluids, no driver. We also got a fifty-one, forty-nine weight distribution, and it was the first race car that I had ever built, so I thought we did pretty well with that.
TG: Is it eligible to race? It’s kind of an odd duck, so to speak.
ML: I was considering getting it to be race spec, but I wasn’t trying to do a tool room copy, or try to pass it off as a 450S. All the 450Ss were right hand drive, this is a left hand drive car, because I drive it here, in California. I want something I could jump in, and go to the market, or terrorize the neighbors, and I wanted something that wasn’t trying to be passed off as a real one. I modified it slightly. It’s very close to what the original car was. Aluminum body. Tubular frame. Most people see it, and think it’s a 450S, but it’s designed for me to drive on the street.
I can autocross it. It doesn’t match any FIA specifications, although I could do that, but it’s more sophisticated in the original car with the brakes, and the steering, and the suspension, the dampers. I think it’s probably going to handle better, and it’s going to be a better braking car, because the original cars had aluminum drum brakes, and that was the nemesis of the car, in terms of the ability to stop with all the horsepower, and performance.
It’s just a fun car to drive, and I love the styling, and I kind of went with that, and took the best ideas, and the best shapes of each of the ten cars that I thought would meld into a harmonious, good-looking car. Some of the 450Ss were built, and they weren’t quite as pretty, I don’t think. I kind of took the best elements.
TG: Are you looking for new projects? Are you kind of full up at the moment?
ML: We have a lot of projects. We have people waiting to come in. There’s a lot of old, nasty run down Maseratis that need love and attention. The values of these cars are going up. We just finished a Maserati Ghibli Spider, and we sold it at auction. It was a client’s car. It was one of those restorations that was just over the top, every nut, bolt, and screw washer was changed, and we just sold it for a world record of $1.5 million at Gooding. It’s now set the bar higher for all these Spiders. They only made a hundred and twenty-five Maserati Ghibli Spiders, and now people can see where the bar has been set, and people can now buy them, and restore them, and do them properly, and when they’re done they’re spectacular cars.
We’re always open to new projects, but right now, we have a lot on our plate.