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Lot 125

2013   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2013

1958 Maserati 3500 GT Spider Prototype

Coachwork by Touring

SOLD $1,430,000

Estimate

$1,000,000 - $1,250,000| Without Reserve

Chassis

101.124

Engine

101.124 Body No. 5220

Car Highlights

The Second of Only Three Touring- Bodied 3500 GT Spiders
Delivered New to Racing Team Owner and Maserati Patron Temple Buell
Well-Documented History with Fascinating Provenance
Exquisite 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
Ideal Entry for International Concours and Driving Events
A Significant Piece of Maserati History

Technical Specs

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
Register to Bid

Formerly the Property of Temple Buell Jr., Joe Louis, and John Bookout

Temple Buell Jr.

When Temple Hoyne Buell Jr. was born in 1923, he entered a world of extraordinary privilege.

His father, the scion of a wealthy Chicago family, had moved to Denver in the early 1920s and established the area’s largest architectural firm. Buell Sr. is credited with designing over 300 buildings in Colorado and the conceptualization of the first “central-mall” shopping center – the prototype for today’s malls. His mother, Marjorie Callae McIntosh, was an heiress to the Mackey family Household Finance fortune.

Supported by his family’s ample means, Temple Buell Jr. eventually turned his attention to sports cars; and, by 1955, he was racing two Abarth 207As in West Coast events. It was not long before Buell decided that the little Abarths were too small and underpowered so he had Denver Imported Motors Service Manager Dabney Collins find him a real race car.

Over the next year, Buell Jr. established two headquarters in Denver and acquired several tow vehicles to support a stable of racing cars that had grown to include a Ferrari 375 MM Spider, a 750 Monza, and a 500 TR. The team was named Buell Equipe and achieved considerable success in the US racing circuit. Buell quickly befriended Hans Tanner, Masten Gregory, Carroll Shelby, and Alfonso de Portago, whose mother Olga Leighton Mackey made him a distant cousin.

Between 1957 and 1959, Buell’s great wealth and contacts in the racing world allowed him to make an agreement with the Maserati factory to use their cars, transport, and pit crews in exchange for financial support. According to several sources, Buell put approximately $500,000 into the Maserati factory racing effort to prevent its collapse after the devastating Caracas Grand Prix.

With the backing of a major factory team, Scuderia Temple Buell had a successful run in international racing. The team’s specially prepared 5.7-liter 450 S sports racer was driven by Masten Gregory and Carroll Shelby to overall wins at Riverside, Nassau, Miami, and Palm Springs. In 1958, Buell sponsored the production of two T3 250F Grand Prix cars (Piccolos), the last examples of the famed model. With these smaller, lighter 250Fs, Scuderia Temple Buell went on to capture a 4th place finish at the Italian Grand Prix.

By the end of the decade, Buell distanced himself from the racing scene and eventually retired to Santa Barbara, California, although he continued to have family and business interests in Denver. In the 1960s, Buell partnered with Adolfo Farland to create Farland-Buell Inc., Denver’s official Ferrari dealership appointed by West Coast importer Modern Classic Motors.

Although his involvement with sports car racing was relatively brief, Temple Buell’s support of leading American drivers and patronage of the Maserati marque made him one of the most influential gentleman racers of the 1950s.

This Car

Considering his unique relationship with the factory during the late 1950s, it is only fitting that Temple Buell Jr. would have chosen to drive a Maserati as his personal car. As one of the company’s best customers, he was extended the opportunity to buy an exceptionally rare model – a 3500 GT Touring Spider, of which only three examples were ever built.

These three early-production 3500 GTs, chassis 101.010, 101.124, and 101.126, were all built in 1958 as prototypes for a limited run of production Spiders. With styling that foreshadowed Aston Martin’s DB4 Drophead Coupe, the original 3500 GT Spiders were sporting, fashionable, and constructed using Carrozzeria Touring’s patented superleggera method. Nevertheless, Maserati ultimately decided in favor of Carrozzeria Vignale’s proposal and, beginning in 1960, 243 production Spiders were built on the shortened 3500 GT chassis.

According to Maserati factory records, 101.124 was originally finished in dark red (Max Meyer 12.207) with white Connolly leather and a black soft top. Given its early build date, the 3500 GT Spider was equipped with three Weber 42 DCOE carburetors, a ZF four-speed gearbox, Girling turbofinned drum brakes, 16" Borrani wire wheels, Pirelli Supersport tires, and an Autovox radio.

In September 1958, the new Maserati was delivered to Temple Buell Jr. in Denver, Colorado. Over the next few years, he used the open Maserati as his preferred means of transport and joined the Turismos Vistadores, an exclusive West Coast car club that counted Bill Doheny, George Dyer, Bud Caward, and Jay Beesmyer among its members.

In the early 1960s, the 3500 GT Spider was refinished in Scuderia Buell dark blue and remained in service at the Colorado residence after Buell relocated to Santa Barbara.

In 1969 or 1970, famed heavyweight boxer and Denver resident Joe Louis purchased the Touring Spider from Buell and presented it as a gift to his wife. Unfortunately, Mrs. Louis couldn’t drive the four-speed stick and the car was returned to Farland-Buell Chrysler, where a contemporary 383 V-8 and TorqueFlite automatic were substituted in what has been described as a very “sanitary installation.” At that time, the 3500 GT engine and gearbox were placed on a stand and put into storage at the Farland-Buell dealership.

In the early 1970s, the Louis family moved to Las Vegas and the Maserati was sold on. In December 1976, Armatha Napue of Northglenn, Colorado, purchased the Touring Spider and it remained in his hands for at least 15 years before being exported to Europe. In 2001, noted Maserati collector John Bookout of Houston, Texas, purchased the Touring Spider from Joop Stolze in Holland. After taking delivery of the 3500 GT, Mr. Bookout began a comprehensive search for the car’s original engine.

As it turns out, the engine had a fascinating journey of its own. In the early 1980s, noted Denver-area restorer Jack Farland purchased a late-production Maserati 3500 GT Coupe, chassis 101.2340, from his uncle, Temple H. Buell Jr. When the car’s fuel-injected engine went south, Mr. Farland replaced it with the carbureted engine from 101.124, which had been sitting on a stand at the family Chrysler dealership for almost 15 years. After performing some additional work, Mr. Farland sold the Maserati Coupe to Dave Lucy who, in turn, sold it to Tom Adams. As luck would have it, the 3500 GT Coupe was eventually sold to a collector in Texas and ended up on the showroom of a Houston-area classic car dealer. After learning of the car’s whereabouts, Mr. Bookout purchased 101.2340 in 2001 and subsequently reunited 101.124 with its original, matching-numbers engine.

Between 2002 and 2004, the 3500 GT Touring Spider was completely restored to its original specification by leading Modenese specialists under the careful supervision of Maserati historian Adolfo Orsi. During this process, Pietro Cremonini refinished the Touring Spider in the correct dark red shade, and Brandoli Egidio reupholstered the interior in white leather hides as was originally specified. Giuseppe Candini, a member of the Maserati works support team during the 1950s and one of the most respected marque specialists in Europe, was responsible for the mechanical preparation of the 3500 GT.

After the exacting restoration was completed, 101.124 was invited to take part in a special Carrozzeria Touring retrospective held between April and October 2004 at the Museo dell’Automobile Bonfanti in Bassano del Grappa. This exhibit featured approximately 30 important examples of Touring coachwork illustrating the firm’s evolution through the decades.

Following this prestigious exhibition, the 3500 GT Spider was displayed at the factory showroom in Modena, Italy, during Maserati’s 90th anniversary celebration and was the subject of a feature article in Il Tridente, the official magazine of the Maserati Club.

Over the past three years, the 3500 GT Touring Spider has been a fixture in a private Southern California collection, and its exceptional history and restoration have garnered several significant awards. In August 2011, the Maserati received Best in Class (Italian Sport) at the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours on the Avenue as well as Best in Class and Best of Marque at Concorso Italiano. These impressive showings were followed by yet another Best in Class (European Sports Cars Over 3 Liters) at the Santa Barbara Concours d’Elegance in October.

Having been maintained by recognized Maserati specialist Martin Loge of Santa Barbara, California, 101.124 remains in superb condition, both cosmetically and mechanically. In addition to a period-correct tool kit, jack, and owner’s manual, 101.124 is offered with an extensive file of important documentation.

Copies of the original Maserati build sheets, order confirmation and delivery papers are organized in a presentation binder along with important correspondences, magazines, articles, calendars, and DVDs. A separate folder – complete with numerous photos and a file of invoices totaling more than €110,000 – attests to the quality of the restoration process.

Today, 101.124 carries the distinction of being the only authentically restored 3500 GT Touring Spider in existence. The first Spider, 101.010, was sold new to a client in Rome and is believed to be lost. The last Spider, 101.126, was sold new in Paris and has not been seen since the 1990s.

A completely genuine and impeccably restored 1950s Maserati Spider, 101.124 is an ideal candidate for leading automotive events – from the finest concours d’elegance to exclusive rallies such as the Colorado Grand – and is sure to be a standout at marque gatherings. Its documented status as a factory-built prototype and its intimate connections to Maserati patron Temple Buell Jr. and legendary boxer Joe Louis give this car a unique identity and contribute to its historical importance.

This glorious Maserati is sure to impress the most discerning eye and captivate those with a deep appreciation for significant examples of this fabled Italian marque.