Classics for sale: Maserati’s first try at road-going perfection
As if finding a Maserati 3500 GT isn’t tricky enough, sourcing a right-hand-drive example is almost impossible. Which is why today is your lucky day…
Upon mentioning the Maserati name, most of us envisage a league of racing cars; the 250F, 450S and Tipo 61 ‘Birdcage’. We imagine Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss battling for victory on the world’s most exotic circuits. What we don’t remember with such fondness is the Guidizzolo tragedy.
Ploughing into the crowd after losing control of his Ferrari 335S during a stage of the 1957 Mille Miglia, Alfonso de Portago took nine spectators and his co-driver into the afterlife. Five of them were children. Maserati was so appalled by the shockwaves and the crumbling political disorder swirling around the Mille Miglia itself, that it withdrew from factory racing to pursue road-going clientele.
The first result was the 3500 GT, a grand tourer with clout, style and racing pedigree. Upon hearing of its existence, Enzo Ferrari narrowed his eyes for a trademark scowl. The car unnerved him.
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Utilising Maserati’s race experience and knowledge, the engine was a development of the 3.5-litre straight-six taken from the 250S endurance racer. It was tailored for public use with a wet-sump oil system mated with track-honed innovation; the block and head were aluminium, and the ignition system employed a twin-spark ignition system.
Power output was somewhat respectable for the time, churning 217bhp through the rear wheels at 5500rpm. The triple Weber 42 DCOE carburettors may have had something to do with that…
The tubular-design chassis featured double-wishbone suspension on the front and a Salisbury solid axle at the rear, giving a comfortable yet direct driving stance.
The 3500 GT was originally offered with hydraulically assisted drum brakes and four-speed manual transmission, but upgrades throughout its production cycle included front disc brakes, a limited-slip differential, discs brakes all round, and the introduction of fuel injection in 1961.
As if all that mechanical prestige wasn’t quite enough, the Maserati 3500 GT was a handsome devil. It was capable of bringing men to their knees, and was so overtly sexual that most women fainted as it burbled up the street.
The body was penned by Carrozzeria Touring and used its Superleggera process of aluminium panels on a steel frame. Not that everyone could get their hands on one – besides being ludicrously expensive, only 1981 3500 GT Touring Coupés were made. For the UK market, just 40 were installed with right-hand drive.
Rarer than an honest politician, finding one of the fabled 40 RHD examples is worthy of merit – which is why we had to stop fawning over the aesthetics and tell you about this one for sale with AutoClassics.
From the classifieds – yours for £150,000
Delivered new in July 1960, this Maserati 3500 GT was sold to official importer Colin Murray of Fleetwood in Lancashire. Four years later, 26-year-old Andrew Petersen took the plunge to begin a 52-year relationship between man and dream machine.
The Maserati became Andrew’s daily commuter and, at weekends, it would take him, his wife and child on various automotive adventures.
1971 saw the arrival of a second child, and the Maserati was subsequently relegated to the garage, where it remained for 17 years. Once the children had flown the nest in 1988, Andrew could finally find the time to put his 3500 GT’s gracious curves back on the road.
Andrew took yet another plunge with the Maserati and sent it off to Bill McGrath Maserati for a full restoration. Unfortunately, due to a limited budget, the full nut-and-bolt restoration was not possible. However, this turned out for the best; it meant most aspects of the car remained original.
The engine was completely overhauled top to bottom, and everything that was required to get the car an MoT certificate was addressed. There are invoices and letters on file from 2007-2012 tallying up to just over £35,000.
Sadly, after the work was completed, Andrew decided to sell the car. In 2016, the current owner bought the Maserati and added it to his already sizeable collection, having fallen in love with the story and patinated condition.
Today, the car is presented in rude health with accompanying ‘used’ aesthetics. With original trim and an engine rebuilt by the best in the business, this is the perfect combination of usability and history.
A restored car remains a wonderful thing, but as everything is only original once, this is the real deal. It won’t win a concours competition, but it will win your heart.
Get a closer look with the classifieds advert.
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