In 1957 Maserati enjoyed its most successful season in motor racing when Fangio won the World F1 Championship in a lightweight 250F and the mighty 450S sports-racer came within an ace of winning the World Sports Car Championship. Such success normally calls for celebration and the planning of the next move but Maserati’s parent company had invested heavily in Argentina and the overthrow of President Juan Peron in 1955 had caused a severe cash-flow crisis, so at the end of its most glorious season in the sport Maserati had to withdraw to concentrate on becoming a profit centre in the Orsi group of companies.
The writing had been on the wall for some time and Maserati was prepared. As the racing side wound down so it set on the road to becoming, for the first time in its history, a significant maker of high quality sports cars. Over the next few years Maserati would challenge Ferrari as a maker of road cars and perhaps the reason why Ferrari finally drew ahead was not mechanical competence but the close relationship with Pininfarina.
There could hardly be any question about the mechanical competence since the Maserati 3500 GT was designed by Giulio Alfieri, who was the best all round designer of his day.
In creating a road car, Alfieri was able to draw on a 3,486 c.c. dohc straight six, derived from the sports-racing 350S unit and half-sister of the engine which had powered Fangio to the World Championship. The tubular chassis was recognisably the descendent of the classic Maserati A6/1500 but the live rear axle was suspended on semi-elliptics.
Front disc brakes were optional in 1959 (ahead of Ferrari, naturally) and standard in 1960. Typical of Alfieri’s pioneering, Lucas fuel injection was fitted from 1961 and this gave a small power increase, when it worked. This car has triple Weber carburettors, which are completely reliable and produce a much nicer sound!
Maserati’s chief engineer Giulio Alfieri developed the two 2+2 prototype 3500GT, revealed at the Salon International de l’Auto in Geneva in March 1957. Both had a 2,600 mm wheelbase and aluminium bodywork; one a Superleggera body by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan, the other by Carrozzeria Allemano. Minor design changes were undertaken before production of the Touring-based body started in late 1957. Front disc brakes and limited slip differential became optional in 1959, standardized in 1960; rear discs became standard in 1962. Borrani knock-off wire wheels complemented the standard steel wheels, as well as wider 185×16” radial tyres. All cars had leather interior and Jaeger-LeCoultre instruments. Power windows were added as standard.
Discovered in late 2012, this vehicle was part of a larger collection of cars held in similar deep storage near Venice, Italy. After purchasing the car, the vendors appointed Dr Adolfo Orsi from Historica Selecta to investigate the Maserati’s provenance and certify its identity. Extensive investigation revealed that the car was first registered in November 1960 in Florence Italy to Marquis Emilio Pallavicino, who owned the car until February 1962. Dr Orsi’s very detailed report which accompanies the car, documents the majority of the car’s history and includes information on its early years and initial changes of ownership and location.
It was discovered that the car had been prepared by a previous owner, a keen motor sports competitor, for use in Road/Rally style events during the 1980’s. Our investigations lead us to believe the car was parked in storage soon after its conversion, where it had remained until its discovery in 2012.
After a process of careful re-commissioning and a full Carburettor overhaul, the car was once again bought back to life and the vendors have established that the car is now equipped with re-profiled camshafts along with a gas flowed cylinder head and is supplied with its UK V5 registration document and current MoT test certificate.
A truly wonderful example of the still much underrated Maserati 3500 GT, of which only 1,973 cars have been built – something for the connoisseur.