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Coachwork by Vignale
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Franky Watts, Miami, Florida (acquired new in the early 1960s)Desmond D. Bouwler, Fort Lauderdale, Florida (acquired in 1965)Unknown Collector, Richmond, Virginia (acquired circa 1968)Abe Korb, South Amboy, New Jersey (acquired by 1974)Heinz Mallon, Staten Island, New York (acquired by the late 1970s)Al Lang, New York, New York (acquired by 1980)Jeffrey Vogel, Bridgehampton, New York (acquired by 1982)Private Collector, Italy (acquired by the mid-1980s)Private Collector, US (acquired by the late 1990s)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2002)
Torino Auto Show, 1959
At the Geneva salon in March 1957, Maserati introduced a new grand touring model in an effort to lift its flagging fortunes. Utilizing a new 3.5-liter development of the marque’s time-honored twin overhead cam inline six-cylinder engine, the resulting 3500 GT was an instant hit with sporting enthusiasts.
An open version of the 3500 GT was not far behind, and after considering convertible designs from Touring and Frua, Maserati ultimately chose Vignale to become the series coachbuilder for the 3500 GT Spider. The new open model was mounted on a shorter 2,500 mm chassis that provided a more nimble turning radius. Two prototype examples were shown on the manufacturer’s stand at the Torino Auto Show in November 1959, and customer response was strong. Vignale ultimately built 242 examples of the Spider during the course of 3500 GT production, complementing dynamic styling and race-winning mechanicals with a degree of rarity.
This important Maserati is one of the two prototypes shown at the 1959 Torino Auto Show, and reputedly is the first of three prototypes built in total (the others being chassis 101.623 and 101.678). These three cars featured slightly different styling details from the production examples that followed, including an elegant sweepspear vent treatment positioned at the beltline on the front fenders, a greater use of chrome trim around the turn indicators, longer hoods, and taller A-pillars.
Officially completed in January 1960, chassis 101.505 was just the second rolling chassis dispatched to Vignale, and it was mounted with body no. 2. The prototype was finished in Grigio paint and trimmed with a red leather interior, and in the early 1960s the car was sold new to Franky Watts of Miami. In 1965, the 3500 GT reportedly passed to Desmond D. Bouwler of nearby Fort Lauderdale, and three years later he sold the car to an enthusiast in Richmond, Virginia.
By 1974, the Maserati was owned by Abe Korb of South Amboy, New Jersey, and the car soon passed to Heinz Mallon of Staten Island, New York. By 1980, the Spider was still in New York City, owned by Al Lang, who sold the car by 1982 to Jeffrey Vogel of Bridgehampton, New York. Mr. Vogel moved it to Italy and commissioned a comprehensive restoration by Carrozzeria Campana in Modena.
Purchased then by an enthusiast in Italy, the 3500 GT remained in Europe for approximately 10 years before being acquired by an American collector, who in turn sold it to the consignor in 2002. At that time the Spider began to benefit from long-term storage and care at the esteemed Blackhawk Collection in Danville, California, where the car was occasionally displayed among the many other fine motorcars there.
Still showing the benefits of its restoration, this Vignale-built Spider is striking in its deep finish of Rosso Rubino (Ruby Red), and the reupholstered tan interior remains supple and fresh. As the car has been stored for the better part of 20 years, the engine bay has acquired a healthy patina. In preparation for the sale, the car was submitted to the experts at Motion Products in Neenah, Wisconsin, to return it to driving condition. Further sorting will likely be required before any spirited road use by the next caretaker.
Jewel-like in its rare design details, this 3500 GT Spider Prototype is a striking testament to the styling genius of Carrozzeria Vignale. It is an important Maserati show car that holds an enviable position within the Spider build sequence, as the first completed example. Particularly suited to Maserati purists or devotees of any significant coachbuilt spiders, 101.505 would be a superlative addition to any sports car collection. Poised to find a warm welcome at concours d’elegance and marque events, this remarkable 3500 GT invites the consideration of Maserati enthusiasts worldwide.