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Model

Vignale Maserati 3500 GT Special Spyder 1960 #101.504/C
Vignale Maserati 3500 GT Special Spyder 1960 #101.504/C
9.3/10 rating (4 votes)

Description

The Maserati 3500 GT was launched at the 1957 Geneva Salon as the brainchild of Chief Engineer Giulio Alfieri. The spyder version, bodied by Vignale, was introduced in 1960, and only 251 were made from 1959 to 1964 with a shorter wheelbase of 78.74 inches (250 cm).

The Maserati 3500 GT Spyder Vignale, chassis number 101.504/C, is a unique example that was finished by the works in February of 1960 as the seventh spyder built. At the request of its first owner, an engineer from Genova, 504/C was delivered to Carrozzeria Vignale for whom Giovanni Michelotti worked and a bespoke unique body was built. Michelotti had proposed various sketches illustrating several different solutions for the front end, the hood and, even more so, the very distinctive nose grille, and these traits are not to be found on the production cars.

In those days it was quite common for pre-production prototypes to be sold as one-off commissions. Coachbuilders were full of extraordinary workers, and you could have a prototype built at a reasonable price, with only minimal investment required for equipment. This favourable situation enabled car-makers in Modena, such as Ferrari and Maserati, to recover almost the entire investment needed for the design and development of new models. Prototypes were sold without difficulty to lucky VIPs, big industrialists, sovereigns, actors and singers. More often than not, these dream cars were unveiled at Motor Shows, and it was on these occasions that the car-makers could gauge the opinion of their potential customers, so as to then make the design and technical adjustments that would lead to the final production model to hit the assembly lines just a few months later. Example 504/C was one of those prototypes and prefigured what would later become the 3500 GT Vignale Spider production model, the most successful convertible that Maserati built in the Fifties and Sixties.

Records held at the Maserati Archives show that the 504/C chassis was sent to Carrozzeria Vignale on 16 April 1959, and it was the first chassis sent to Vignale for the new model. Oddly enough, the car was completed only one year later, on 20 April 1960, which was an unusually long time, considering that the car's "sister-prototypes", whose chassis were sent to the Turin body-maker later, had already completed in November 1959. The delay in the final assembly of the car explains why this particular prototype has a series of unique and special features (a custom front panel without the classic front bumper and customary trident set in the middle of a broad oval grille), as well as others, such as the side air vents, boot, dashboard and seats, typical of the production model.

The very special nature of 504/C caught the full attention of the great connoisseur and respected collector Guido Bartolomeo. He acquired the car in Italy in the late 1980s and imported it to France in 2002. The car is in highly original condition, with the exception of a repaint in the early 1980s in its original "Grigio Conchiglia" colour (“conch” or “shell” grey). Its black leather interior is also original. It has only covered approximately 60,000 kms (about 37,300 miles) from new and has recently received a major service. The car is in fine running order, is incredibly well preserved and comes with a French “carte grise” title. This is a very rare opportunity to acquire a unique and historically important Maserati.

A Note from Adolfo Orsi:

I first heard about this "special" car at the end of the Eighties, when I had the good fortune to meet Guido Bartolomeo. Guido was a bit of a character. He was a man of the world, spoke several languages, and lived in this dilapidated old house in the countryside near Paris. He had quite a taste for beauty though, and his garage bore witness to his quest for stylish motor vehicles and cutting-edge cars. 

I became interested in the design and development of the 3500 GT Vignale Spider in 1989 when I purchased a 101.623 in America, another of the prototypes built, which I restored and fortunately still have today.

Years later I met Edgardo Michelotti, son of Giovanni Michelotti, one of greatest car designers Italy has ever had. My friend Edgardo lent me a series of sketches that his father had produced for Alfredo Vignale, which prefigured what would later become the 3500 GT Vignale Spider production model, the most successful convertible that Maserati built in the Fifties and Sixties. At first I thought the sketches were just working ideas, design proposals, but then as I looked more closely into the history of the first Vignale Spiders, I discovered to my great surprise that many of those sketches had practical consequences, in that they were actually built and sold to customers. It was a truly magical period back then. Coachbuilders were full of extraordinary workers, and you could have a prototype built at a reasonable price, with only minimal investment required for equipment. This favourable situation enabled car-makers in Modena, such as Ferrari and Maserati, to recover almost the entire investment needed for the design and development of new models. Prototypes, in fact, were sold without difficulty to lucky VIPs, big industrialists, sovereigns, actors and singers. More often than not, these dream cars were unveiled at Motor Shows, and it was on these occasions that the car-makers could gauge the opinion of their potential customers, so as to then make the design and technical adjustments that would lead to the final production model to hit the assembly lines just a few months later.

The same thing happened with the 3500 GT Vignale Spider. Prototypes were built carrying the chassis numbers 504 and 504/C, and later 505 and 623 with similar features (these last two were exhibited at the Turin Motor Show in 1959, the first time the model was unveiled to the public). In the spring of 1960, a pre-production series of some ten vehicles was produced, with very similar features to the production models that were launched in June 1960 (the difference being that the top of the bonnet covered the windscreen wiper.

Turning back to the 504/C, its history is tied to the name of Mr Giorgio Fassio of Genoa. The Fassio family was one of the most powerful entrepreneurial families in Genoa at that time, with interests in the shipping and print media businesses. My father (who unlike me enjoyed hunting) told me once about a red partridge hunt he went on in Fassio's game reserve, just inland from Genoa. I contacted Mr Fassio's daughter who told me she could remember her father having a Vignale Spider and Carrozzeria Touring Coupe at the same time. Records held at the Maserati Archives show that the 504/C chassis was sent to Carrozzeria Vignale on 16 April 1959, and it was the first chassis sent to Vignale for the new model. Oddly enough, the car was completed only one year later, on 20 April 1960, which was an unusually long time, considering that the car's "sisters", the 504, 505 and 623, whose chassis were sent to the Turin body-maker later, had already completed in November 1959. The delay in the final assembly of the car explains why this particular prototype has a series of unique and special features (a custom front panel without the classic front bumper and customary trident set in the middle of a broad oval grille), as well as others, such as the side air vents, boot, dashboard and seats, typical of the production model. A photograph of the assembly of this "special" vehicle can be found on page 80 of the book "Maserati", published in 2004 by Quattroruote.


Source: RM Auctions. 

Specifications

28.07.17
2951

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