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Coachwork by Frua
Please note that chassis 2180 was the first of 10 A6G/54 Frua Spiders built and not the first of nine as stated in the published description.
Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 1954, the A6G/54 represented the ultimate evolution of Maserati’s first postwar sports car. Developed from the highly successful A6GCS racing cars and the earlier single-cam A6G/2000 road car, the A6G/54 was an exclusive gran turismo; its fine engineering and exquisite attention to detail embodied the very best qualities of the Maserati marque.
Based on a robust tube-frame chassis, the A6G/54 borrowed a variety of features from the A6GCS, including many of its race-proven braking, steering, and suspension components. At the heart of the car was a gorgeous all-aluminum twin-cam six-cylinder engine that Gioacchino Colombo had originally developed for competition purposes. Equipped with three Weber sidedraft carburetors, and available with an optional twin-plug cylinder head, the A6G/54 was among the best performing two-liter cars of its era. Famed automotive journalist Hans Tanner, who road tested the model for Motor Racing, found that the new Maserati offered "instantaneous acceleration, faultless roadholding and excellent handling."
In typical Maserati practice, several different bodies were commissioned for the A6G/54 chassis. Allemano, Frua, and Zagato each imbued the Maserati chassis with their own distinctive character and style. Pietro Frua, who began his career with Stabilimenti Farina, produced two distinct body styles for the A6G/54 chassis – a handsome Coupe and a dramatic Spider. According to marque historian Dr. Adolfo Orsi, just nine A6G/54s were fitted with Frua’s Spider coachwork.
Frua’s design for the A6G/54 Spider took cues from an earlier collaboration with Maserati. In 1955, Frua built custom Spider bodies on two competition A6GCS chassis that were characterized by a central bonnet stripe finished in a contrasting color to match the upholstery; this same attractive feature was repeated on the later A6G/54 Frua Spiders. All finished in striking two-tone color schemes, and ornately detailed with Frua’s signature scripting and brightwork, these limited-production Spiders are masterpieces of the coachbuilder’s art.
The Maserati presented here, chassis 2180, was the first A6G/54 Frua Spider built and, as such, was the prototype of this exclusive series. Constructed by Frua between May and August 1956, this Spider possesses several unique features not seen on any subsequent example. The most notable distinction is this car’s aluminum dashboard, which is painted entirely in the body color (rather than upholstered) and is unadorned with decorative trim on the instrument panel.
As noted on the factory build sheet, 2180 was originally finished in a vibrant and appropriately Italian color scheme – Rosso (Red) with the central stripe, upholstery, and top in Avorio (Ivory). Records also indicate that 2180 was outfitted from new with elegant Jaeger gauges, an Abarth exhaust system, and Borrani wire wheels with Pirelli Supersport tires. Soon after its completion, the Frua Spider was photographed for promotional use and these images appeared in several period publications including the Italian magazine Quattroruote and the May 1957 issue of Motor Trend.
In October 1956, 2180 was shipped to Simone & Thépenier, the official Maserati concessionaire in Paris, and sold to Mr. Cavet, reportedly a resident of Venezuela. While little is known of the car’s earliest history, by the mid-1970s the Maserati had been imported into the US and acquired by Thomas Dailey of California.
When Mr. Dailey sold 2180 to Louis Rader in 1978, the Maserati had already been repainted dark blue and, having lost its original drivetrain, was powered by a Ford 289. Other than repainting it red, Mr. Rader did little else with the Maserati during his ownership and sold it around 1990 to Dana Beall and Mick Brackett.
In 1999, the unrestored Frua Spider gained a new lease on life when it was sold to the current owner, a renowned American collector with a passion for acquiring and restoring coachbuilt Maseratis. Over the next few years, the first steps were taken to restore 2180 including the sourcing of a complete, correct driveline including a proper A6G/54 engine, numbered 2146. With these important components secured, the Frua Spider was shipped to Italy and entrusted to Carrozzeria AutoSport, the noted Modena-based restoration firm established by Franco Bacchelli and Roberto Villa.
Under the careful supervision of Maserati authority Dr. Adolfo Orsi, Jr., 2180 was completely restored to its original splendor. The comprehensive restoration of the Frua coachwork was carried out at Carrozzeria AutoSport, which carefully repaired the damaged original body, seamlessly integrating newly fabricated panels with carefully preserved sections of original aluminum. Once this painstaking process was completed, the Spider was refinished in its sensational two-tone livery and sent to acclaimed specialist Interni Auto of Mantova for upholstery. Meanwhile, the engine was entrusted to Modena Motori for a complete rebuild to factory specifications.
Completed in April 2008, after nearly five years of continuous work, 2180 was issued a FIVA passport and made its debut at the prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, where it justifiably earned First in Class honors. After this impressive showing, the Maserati returned home to Houston, where it won a prize at the Classy Chassis Concours d’Elegance.
In fall 2014, the Frua Spider was honored with an invitation to participate in a special Maserati Centenary exhibit held at the Museo Enzo Ferrari in Modena, Italy. Following its display there, the Maserati returned to Carrozzeria AutoSport, where the coachwork was taken down to bare metal, reinforced with additional structural tubing (addressing an inherent flaw of the Frua design), and once again painted in its original color scheme.
Since this work was carried out, 2180 has not been exhibited at any concours and remains in superb, show-ready condition, having been dutifully maintained by the consignor’s in-house staff. Beautifully presented and possessing exquisite coachbuilt details, this Maserati Spider is an ideal entry into the most exclusive automotive events, from the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance to the Colorado Grand.
Arguably the finest road car built by Maserati, the A6G/54 is among the most desirable Italian sports cars of the 1950s. Due to their exceptional style, superb dynamic qualities, and mechanical sophistication, these fashionable Maseratis have long been the preferred choice of connoisseurs. The rare and glamorous Frua Spiders are particularly coveted and today, most examples reside in prominent collections.
Considering its prototype status, high-quality Italian restoration, and sensational appearance, 2180 is an outstanding representative of this landmark model. Those with an appreciation for fine coachbuilt sports cars are strongly encouraged to consider this outstanding Frua Spider, a car that perfectly captures the exotic, inimitable appeal of Maserati’s golden age.