Despite their success in racing, Maserati’s future looked uncertain in March of 1957 when the new 3500 GT coupe was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. Simply put, Maserati had too much on its plate with entries in a trio of different sports car classes as well as Formula One racing. Maserati needed a commercial success in the form of a road car in order to continue funding the company’s racing exploits and to keep its head above water.
The 3500 GT was intended to do just that. Utilizing the company’s proven inline six-cylinder motor that now had 3.5 liters of displacement, the car delivered at a time when it was needed most and proved to be the success Maserati was looking for. Nearly 2,000 examples were produced over the course of eight years, a massive number for a company previously known for their hand-built, low-production sports cars.
During 1957 and 1958, Frua (1 car?) and Touring (2) individually bodied at least three of the early 3500 GT Spyders, but Maserati was not won over by any design from either coachbuilder and finally decided on Vignale to build their open cars in 1959. Giovanni Michelotti was specifically responsible for the 3500 Spyder Vignale design which was completely different in detail from the 3500 Coupe produced by Carrozzeria Touring since 1957. It is believed that Vignale produced at least three prototypes (with differences in details) prior to regular spyder production, and the car officially debuted at the Turin Motor Show in 1959. In six years, 243 Vignale Spyders were produced.
The two TOURING bodied prototypes:
Maserati 3500GT Spyder prototype #101.124 by Touring:
Body No. 5220
The first of only 2 Touring-bodied 3500 GT Spyders.
Delivered new to racing team owner and Maserati patron Temple Buell. Formerly the property of Temple Buell Jr., Joe Louis, and John Bookout.
Restoration overseen by Maserati historian Adolfo Orsi.
Displayed at the Museo dell’Automobile Bonfanti and the factory showroom.
First in Class at the Santa Barbara and Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours.
Best in Class and Best of Marque at Concorso Italiano.
3,485 CC DOHC Alloy Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Three Weber 42 DCOE Carburetors
220 BHP at 5,500 RPM
4-Speed ZF Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Girling Turbofinned Drum Brakes
Independent Coil-Spring Front Suspension
Live Rear Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs and Tubular Shock Absorbers
Maserati 3500GT Spyder prototype #101.126 by Touring:
Original colour: red
Featured in the famous US movie “Love is a Ball” with legendary Hollywood actors Glenn Ford and Hope Lange.
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