Sold: 1961 Maserati 3500 GT Vignale Spider ($875,000)
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1961 Maserati 3500 GT Vignale Spider ($875,000)

Fantasy Junction By Fantasy Junction
May 20, 2016

Photography by Nima Salimi

Written by Shayan Bokaie

AT A GLANCE

PRICE: $875,000

Maserati.  Vignale.  Michelotti.

Those are some powerful pronouns when thinking of 1960s automobiles.  On a handful of occasions these names came together, and while each collaboration yielded stunning results, one in particular stands above the rest – the Maserati 3500 GT Vignale Spyder.

The story behind the birth of the Spyder is a perfect snapshot of the competitiveness of Italian design in the 60s.  In total, there were essentially three Carrozzerria’s in the running for the Spyder: Touring, Pietro Frua, and Michelotti via Vignale.

Keep in mind the coupe version, introduced before the Spyder, was already in production with Touring.  It seems as if their strategy was to play it safe and they only removed the top for their submission.

Carozzeria Touring’s Spyder Prototype

Frua (who was actually Michelotti’s predecessor at Stabilimenti Farina) took a different direction with his prototype and departed from some of the cues found in the coupe.

Pietro Frua’s Spyder Prototype

Maserati was unimpressed.

The contract was awarded to Michelotti’s prototype and production began on a slightly shorter chassis.  Well fought, and well deserved.

Michelotti’s Winning Design

The 3500s ultimately became the success that allowed Maserati to pivot away from racing.

THE CAR

The 3500 GT is powered by a 3.5L I-6 fed by 3 Weber carbs, which is an adaption of the racing motor found in the Tipo 350S developing 220 HP.  Unlike the aluminum coupes, the spyder was bodied with steel in order to strengthen the chassis with an aluminum hood and boot lid for a bit of weight savings. Many of the underpinnings were outsourced; ZF 4-speed transmission from Germany, Borg and Beck clutch assembly, rear differential by Salisbury, and suspension by Alford Adler, all from England.

This blue 3500 GT Spyder we have here was originally delivered to Beverly Hills and in 2009 was owned by Ivan Ruiz, a known Maserati enthusiast/restorer (who actually restored one of Michelotti’s Vignale Spyder prototypes) where he performed additional restoration work.  The Borrani wire wheels were an option selected on this car (they look damn good, surprisingly this wasn’t commonly fitted).

CONDITION

Exterior Highlights

Exterior Blemishes

Interior Highlights

Interior Blemishes

Mechanical Highlights

Mechanical Blemishes

How does it Drive?

Overall, the car is very well sorted on the road and has great composure over rough surfaces.  Spencer Trenery of Fantasy Junction claims of all the 3500 GTs they’ve had for sale, this one drives the best.

Engine: Engine starts right up and purrs at idle.  Revs climb quickly and the exhaust note is intoxicating.

Shifting: ZF transmission shifts beautifully at any temperature, up or down.

Brakes: No pulsation on braking and are effective.

Handling: Steering and suspension are tight and rebuild is evident.

RESTORATION

The car was owned by Ivan Ruiz in 2009, well-known for restoring Maserati’s of this era, continued restoring the car.  Since this work, the car has done ~ 3,200 miles.

Body

Engine: Engine bay restored to show condition and is very correct.

Suspension

Brakes

ORIGINALITY

The car originally came in Argento Luna, the lighter blue color.  The interior is trimmed in the original color and may be partially original.

The engine number was not stamped on this 3500, which is the case with many Maserati’s at this time.  There are two pieces of evidence that could support the motor being original:

The car comes with the following original items:

DOCUMENTATION

OWNERSHIP TIMELINE

The total number of owners is not currently known.

OUR THOUGHTS

Not a Garage Queen:  If you have the means, this is the car you buy to drive.  This car has been enjoyed through it’s life, which is something we can appreciate.  There is something to be said about cars that are tried-and-true and this is one of them.  It’s also the earlier model fitted with the Weber carbs, which are known to be more reliable than the direct fuel injection that followed.

Rarity:  There were less than 250 Spyder’s made, compared to about 2,000 coupes making it considerably more rare.  In the company of other period Italian open cars, like the California Spyder for example, this is considerably less expensive.  It’s all a matter of perspective, right?

Work of Art:  This is one of Michelotti’s few Maserati designs and arguably one of his best.

GET INSPIRED

We featured a 3500 GT Coupe a couple years back, which shares the same 3.5 I6 with Weber carbs.  These engines are known to purr and sound fantastic through the power band.  Have a listen.

WHO ARE YOU BUYING FROM?

This car is for sale by Bruce and Spencer Trenery at Fantasy Junction. You can get to know them better here.

PRICE: $875,000

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