Introduced in 1962, the Sebring was one of the final manifestations of the landmark 3500 GT, which had been the linchpin of Maserati’s program to establish itself as a manufacturer of road cars. Despite numerous racetrack successes that included Juan Manuel Fangio’s fifth World Championship – at the wheel of a 250F – and runner-up spot in the World Sports Car Championship with the fabulous 450S – both in 1957, the marque’s most successful season – Maserati was by that time facing a bleak future. Its parent company’s financial difficulties forced a withdrawal from racing and Maserati’s survival strategy for the 1960s centered on switching production from competition to road models.
The Modena marque’s new era began in 1957 with the launch of the Touring-bodied 3500 GT, its first road car built in significant numbers. A luxury 2+2, the 3500GT drew heavily on Maserati’s competition experience, employing a tubular chassis frame and an engine derived from the 350S sports car unit of 1956. Suspension was independent at the front by wishbones and coil springs, while at the back there was a conventional live axle/semi-elliptic arrangement. The 3500 GT’s designer was none other than Giulio Alfieri, creator of the immortal Tipo 60/61 ‘Birdcage’ sports-racer and the man responsible for developing the 250F into a World Championship winner. The twin-overhead-camshaft, six-cylinder engine was a close relative of that used in the 250F and developed around 220bhp initially, later examples producing 235bhp on Lucas mechanical fuel injection. Built initially with drum brakes and four-speed transmission, the 3500 GT was progressively updated, gaining five speeds, front disc brakes and, finally, all-disc braking.
A car possessing such impeccable antecedents not unnaturally attracted the attention of Italy’s finest carrozzeria: Allemano, Bertone and Frua all created bodies for the 3500 GT chassis. Most Coupes were the work of Touring, while all but one (a Frua-bodied example) of the much less common Spider version were the work of Carrozzeria Vignale.
Built on the short-wheelbase chassis of the Spider and likewise styled by Vignale, the Sebring Coupe arrived in 1962. By now a five-speed ZF gearbox, four-wheel disc brakes and fuel injection were standard equipment, with automatic transmission, air conditioning and a limited-slip differential available as options. With a hefty price tag, the new Maserati was some 22% more expensive than the contemporary Aston Martin DB5, its closest rival. Introduced in 1965, the Sebring Series II came with a 3.7-litre, potent 245bhp engine, while some cars left the factory with 4.0-litre units towards the end of production in 1966, by which time 591 Sebrings had been built, 242 of which were in the second series.
The car on display today is matching numbers with 79,000km recorded on its odometer. Produced in 1966 was delivered to Swiss owners before it was registered in Germany in 2005. In 2012 it was sold to the current owner and carefully looked after to the sound of EUR16,000 with a number of improvements including an injection and heating overhaul. Available with the car are two sets of keys, spare parts catalogue and Certificate of Origin from Maserati.