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 Presiden 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. This originally drove through a four-speed ZF gearbox but a five-speed ‘box was optional from 1960, standard from 1961, and this car has one. 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!
This fabulous example has been the subject of a full restoration between 2012 and 2016. Presented in grey metallic with cognac interior, this surely is one of the finest examples of this iconic marque on the market today. The engine has to be seen to be believed and these sports cars still turn heads today as they did back in the 1960s when first produced.