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Coachwork by Frua
*Please note that this vehicle is titled 1956.
From an Important Maserati Collection | Winner of the Prestigious Coppa d'Oro at the 2010 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'EsteEnrico Alesina, Milan, Italy (acquired new in 1957)Dott. Roberto Zoppoli, Modena, Italy (acquired by 1959)Jack D. Eubank, Long Beach, California (acquired via Crenshaw Motors in 1960)Cal Davis, Livonia, Michigan (acquired from the above in 1971)Alan Powell, Mishawaka, Indiana (acquired from the above in 1974)Ken Hutchison, Tower Lake, Illinois (acquired from the above in 1977)Bill Jacobs, Joliet, Illinois (acquired from the above in 1986)Robert M. Rubin, New York, New York (acquired from the above in 1987)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2002)
San Diego Concours d’Elegance, San Diego, California, 1962 (Merit Award)Le Cercle Concours d’Elegance, Los Angeles, California, September 1963San Diego Concours d’Elegance, San Diego, California, 1964 (Merit Award)Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 1964Santa Ana Fashion Square Concours d’Elegance, Santa Ana, California, June 1965Sports Cars in Review, The Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan, 1974Louis Vuitton Classic Concours, New York, New York, January 1997 (Best Postwar Touring Car)Concorso Italiano, Monterey, California, August 2003Classy Chassis Concours d’Elegance, Houston, Texas, 2004 (Best of Show)Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, Cernobbio, Italy, May 2010 (Coppa d’Oro, Best in Class)
At the 1947 Geneva Auto Show, Maserati unveiled the all-new Tipo A6, named for company founder Alfieri Maserati and the car’s six-cylinder engine. That April, Maserati announced a two-liter racing version: the A6GCS. About 15 examples were built through 1950.
Over the winter of 1952, Maserati developed an updated version of its original two-liter sports racer. The new A6GCS/53 debuted in spring 1953 and incorporated myriad technical improvements, including a strengthened chassis, revised suspension, and new Fantuzzi bodywork. But the biggest news was the car’s engine – an aluminum twin-cam straight six developed from the A6GCM Monoposto. This sophisticated engine featured a twin-plug cylinder head, with gear-driven camshafts and hemispherical combustion chambers. It was also equipped with three Weber carburetors, dry sump lubrication, and magneto ignition.
Success came quickly for the A6GCS/53. In its debut season, the new Maserati captured a class win at the Mille Miglia and placed 2nd Overall at the Targa Florio. The next year, Luigi Musso won the two-liter Italian Sports Car Championship driving an A6GCS/53.
The A6GCS/53 even inspired Maserati to develop a companion GT car, the A6G/54; 60 examples were built between 1954 and 1957. Unlike the A6GCS/53, the A6G/54 was primarily designed for road use. As such, it was built on a longer wheelbase and had a detuned engine with chain-driven camshafts, wet sump lubrication, and coil ignition.
In his book Maserati: The Postwar Sportsracing Cars, historian Joel Finn describes the innate appeal of the A6GCS/53: “The A6GCS proved to be an outstanding model in every way. It looks great, had superb roadability and balance, was easy to drive, and above all, proved to be extremely reliable. In the 1953–1954 timeframe the A6GCS was commonly acknowledged to be the best handling sports racer then in competition. It has to be one of Maserati’s most successful sports racers, a happy combination of just right engineering, performance, and beauty.”
The A6GCS/53 presented here, chassis 2110, is one of just three examples built with elegant Spider coachwork by Carrozzeria Frua. The man responsible for creating this remarkable car was Guglielmo “Mimmo” Dei, the official Maserati dealer in Rome.
In 1954, Dei commissioned a small series of coachbuilt A6GCS/53s, including four Pinin Farina Berlinettas and a single Frua Spider. Pleased with the results, Dei contacted the Maserati factory in January 1955 and requested two additional A6GCS/53 chassis, which he intended to send to Frua. These two chassis, numbered 2109 and 2110, were equipped with special dry sump A6G/54 engines and delivered to Dei in July 1955.
From there, the bare chassis were sent to Carrozzeria Frua in Torino. The company’s founder, Pietro Frua, began his career as a draftsman for Stabilmenti Farina and, in the early 1950s, established a close working relationship with Maserati. In fact, many of Frua’s most successful designs were on Maserati’s A6 chassis.
The A6GCS/53 Spiders commissioned by Dei are widely recognized as Frua’s greatest contribution to the art of Italian coachbuilding. Perfectly proportioned and possessing intricate details, these elegant Frua bodies were masterfully designed, mirroring the best qualities of the Maserati chassis that lay beneath.
Completed in late 1955, the two A6GCS/53 Frua Spiders were identical apart from color; 2109 was finished in red with a cream central stripe, while 2110 was finished in Banana with a black stripe. Both cars were beautifully turned-out and equipped with the finest accessories, including French-made Marchal driving lights and handsome Veglia gauges.
Unfortunately for Carrozzeria Frua, just as these attractive Spiders were being built, Mimmo Dei ran into serious financial problems. He was forced to abandon his Maserati dealership and relocated to Modena, where he established Scuderia Centro Sud. As a result, Carrozzeria Frua kept both 2109 and 2110 until selling them to private owners in 1957.
Enrico Alesina of Milan was the first owner of 2110. He registered the car in 1958 and kept it for only a short time. By February 1959, the Frua Spider had been sold to Dottore Roberto Zoppoli, who maintained an office at the Clinica delle Malattie Nervose in Modena.
According to several accounts, Viviano Corradini, a Milan-based car dealer, exported 2110 to the US late in 1959. In 1960, Jack Eubank of Long Beach, California, purchased the Frua Spider from Crenshaw Motors in Los Angeles, paying $4,500. Over the next five years, Mr. Eubank exhibited the Maserati at various concours d’elegance throughout California including Pebble Beach, where it was shown in August 1964.
Mr. Eubank also drove the car regularly – apparently for quite some time without water. Consequently, he damaged the original engine around 1964. Harry Finer, the Beverly Hills Maserati dealer, removed the Frua Spider’s original engine and installed a similar unit from an A6G/54 Allemano Coupe.
Mr. Eubank offered the Maserati for sale in the April 1965 issue of Road & Track, stating: “Aluminum body by Frua. Concours car at Pebble Beach, Santa Ana, etc. DOHC, 6-cyl, Webers, dry sump, oil cooler, good mechanically, $3750.”
Mr. Eubank owned 2110 until 1971, when it was sold to Cal Davis of Livonia, Michigan. In 1974, Mr. Davis displayed the Frua Spider at The Henry Ford Museum’s Sports Cars in Review show. While on display at the museum, the Maserati caught the eye of John Delamater, a classic-car broker from Indiana who specialized in fine Italian sports cars. Captivated by the Frua-bodied Maserati, Delamater tracked down Mr. Davis and negotiated a purchase on behalf of his friend and customer, Alan Powell.
Powell, a collector and restorer, repainted 2110 during his ownership, reversing the car’s original two-tone color scheme. He kept the Maserati until 1977 and then sold it, through Delamater, to Ken Hutchison of Tower Lake, Illinois.
A discerning collector with refined tastes, Mr. Hutchison was one of the six founding members of the Ferrari Club of America. He maintained a great passion for the jewel-like Italian sports cars of the 1950s; at the height of his collecting during the late 1970s, his exceptional stable included several Ferraris – a 212 Export, 250 MM, 250 Monza, and 375 MM – as well as this Maserati A6GCS/53 Spider. Mr. Hutchison retained the Frua Spider until 1986, selling it, along with most of his cars, to fellow Chicago-area collector Bill Jacobs. Mr. Jacobs kept the Maserati for about a year and then sold it to Bob Rubin of New York.
When he acquired 2110 in 1987, Mr. Rubin was in the midst of assembling a superb collection of important vintage Ferraris. He also had an appreciation for other fine automobiles, including Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, and, of course, Maserati. Between 1993 and 1996, Leydon Restorations of Pennsylvania completely restored 2110 for Mr. Rubin, and the car made its debut at the 1997 Louis Vuitton Classic in New York, winning Best Postwar Touring Car. Soon after, the Maserati was involved in a road accident and was sent to specialist Tony Dutton at Northumberland Engineering, who repaired damage to the driver door and rocker panel.
Mr. Rubin kept the Frua Spider until 2002, when it was sold to the current owner, a connoisseur of coachbuilt Maseratis. Since that time, 2110 has been the centerpiece of the consignor’s exceptional collection and has been selectively displayed. In 2010, the Frua Spider was shown at the exclusive Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, where it was awarded Best in Class and the prestigious Coppa d’Oro – best of show by public referendum.
Since its impressive outing at Villa d’Este, 2110 has not been publicly displayed. Rather, it has been maintained in superb condition, carefully looked after by the consignor’s in-house mechanic. Not only does this Maserati appear to be a candidate for top honors at the best international concours (including Pebble Beach, where it was last shown in 1964), this rare coachbuilt A6GCS/53 would be a brilliant choice for rallies such as the Mille Miglia and the Colorado Grand.
While in the care of the current owner, 2110 has been meticulously researched by respected Maserati historian Adolfo Orsi Jr. Included in the car’s impressive file are copies of the Maserati build sheets, correspondence, period photographs, restoration photos, articles, and other important documents. Chassis 2110 is equipped with a high-performance twin-cam engine, numbered 2050, that features a dry sump lubrication system, gear-driven camshafts, and combination magneto/coil ignition system.
The offering of this Maserati represents a significant opportunity. Only three of these exquisite Frua Spiders were ever built and only 2109 and 2110 have survived with their original chassis and coachwork. Today, 2109 resides in a major private collection and is not expected to become available for the foreseeable future.
This exceptionally rare Maserati represents an ideal marriage of the thoroughbred A6GCS/53 chassis with Pietro Frua’s exquisite coachwork. The result is an undisputed masterpiece of Italian design and one of the most beautiful, desirable sports cars of the 1950s. Having known this outstanding Maserati for many years and admired its wonderful qualities, Gooding & Company recommends serious consideration of this marvelous Frua Spider – truly a car fit for the connoisseur.