- 1961 Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder for sale
- One of only five right-hand-drive cars built
- Presented in its original shade of Acciaio Brunito
- Fastidiously maintained by marque specialists and a multiple concours winner
The late 1950s were a halcyon period for Grand Touring cars and few were more stylish than the Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder. This particular example – chassis number AM101.1297 – is one of only five right-hand-drive cars built and was completed on 23 May 1961.
The Maserati is thought to have been sold new via Arturo Tuena in Genoa to an Englishman who was living in Italy – hence the right-hand-drive configuration. Finished in Acciaio Brunito with a black interior, it originally wore steel wheels but they were later replaced with the optional Borrani wires.
As a relatively early example of the 3500GT Spyder, it featured the four-speed gearbox. Not until later in the production run did Maserati fit a five-speed unit.
The car was in the UK by 1969, when it was acquired by Stuart Cawley, who had seen it advertised for sale in Motor Sport magazine. It had been repainted Cream but was still on Milanese registration plates, and having bought it for £1200 – against which he part-exchanged his Mercedes-Benz 190SL – Cawley drove it from London back home to Scotland.
Having used the Maserati for a couple of years, he drove it down to Italy in 1971 so that the engine could receive some remedial work at Autocorse – as recommended by the factory. Having not been entirely happy with the results, he returned in 1972 so that a more comprehensive rebuild of the straight-six could be carried out.
Cawley moved to Hertfordshire in 1975 and got to know marque specialist Bill McGrath. When Cawley later retired, he went to work for McGrath part-time, and in return Bill stored the 3500GT Vignale Spyder free of charge.
Having not had much use out of the car in the later years of his ownership, Cawley eventually decided to sell it in 2000 to Patrick Martin, who he knew as a customer of McGrath. Martin had it mechanically recommissioned and in 2004 used it for the Maserati 90th anniversary celebrations in Italy.
The following year, he sold the car to Edwin Faulkner, who commissioned a bodywork restoration by Jim Henshaw, during which it was resprayed in the Maserati shade of Avorio. A retrim was also carried out.
Faulkner kept the Vignale Spyder on the Isle of Man and, as part of the registration process there, had to replace the original kilometres-per-hour speedometer with a miles-per-hour version.
He sold it in 2010 to a UK-based owner who had it returned to its original colour of Acciaio Brunito by respected restoration firm Moto Technique. Three years later it passed to another UK enthusiast, and in 2014 it was used on the Maserati Club Scottish Tour as well as the Goodwood Road Racing Club’s Corsica and Sardinia Tour.
The Maserati was displayed at concours events and was runner-up in the Club Trophy at the 2016 Concours of Elegance at Windsor Castle. It was also part of the Earls Court display at the 2014 Goodwood Revival, and was first in class and overall winner at the 2016 Maserati Club Concours.
Now being offered for sale at The Classic Motor Hub in exceptional condition, this well-known and supremely stylish Maserati 3500GT Vignale Spyder has been maintained with no expense spared in recent years. In February 2022, its gearbox and steering box were rebuilt by McGrath and it benefits from electric power-steering. It also comes with a consignment of spares that includes five road wheels, a pair of front brake discs and a steering column, plus an original copy of the driver’s manual.
Maserati had achieved great motorsport success during the 1950s, but despite taking Juan Manuel Fangio to his fifth and final Formula 1 World Championship in 1957, it announced its withdrawal from racing that year.
The Italian company was in financial trouble and until that point it had built production road cars in only very small numbers. That changed in 1957 with the introduction of the 3500GT, which drew on Maserati’s racing experience but would be produced in far greater quantities than previous road cars.
Originally launched as a 2+2 coupé, the 3500GT featured bodywork by Touring that was mounted on a tubular chassis. Beneath the bonnet was a 3485cc straight-six that was closely related to the marque’s competition engines and featured twin overhead camshafts, twin-plug ignition and a trio of twin-choke Webers.
Following the success of the coupé, Touring and Frua both built prototypes for a keenly anticipated Spyder variant, but in the end Maserati commissioned a design of timeless elegance that had been created by Giovanni Michelotti for Vignale.
When it was introduced in 1959, the 3500GT Vignale Spyder featured drum brakes all round – those at the front were soon replaced by discs – while suspension was via wishbones and coil springs at the front, with semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The wheelbase was slightly shorter than on the coupé, at 2500mm rather than 2600mm.
Upgrades applied during its production run included a five-speed gearbox in place of the previous four-speeder, all-round disc brakes from 1962, and the development of the 3500GTI. Having been fitted with Lucas fuel-injection, the power output for this model was boosted to 235bhp – the carburettor-fed model gave in the region of 220bhp. In total, 245 Vignale Spyders were built between 1959 and 1964.
When Road & Track magazine tested a 3500GT Spyder, it compared it favourably to the Ferrari 250 GT. With a top speed approaching 140mph, it certainly had the performance to go with its good looks, and it was little wonder that the Maserati became the Grand Tourer of choice for captains of industry and glamorous socialites alike.