Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Vignale
From an Important Maserati Collection | Presented in Original Peacock Green LiveryDott. Alberto Fassio, Genoa, Italy (acquired new via Automar in 1960)Bertolanno Petugia, Rome, Italy (acquired from the above in April 1962)Bruno Caroizzuto, Rome, Italy (acquired from the above in February 1963)Carlo Lattari, Crotone, Italy (acquired from the above in November 1963)Impero Margiotta, Rome, Italy (acquired from the above in March 1966)Agnes Mand, Rome, Italy (acquired from the above in September 1969)Prospero Enore Santi, Reggio-Emilia, Italy (acquired circa 1983)Luigi Chilò, Castelfranco, Italy (acquired in 1983)Current Owner (acquired in 2003)
In 1957, Maserati launched its first volume-production road car, the 3500 GT. Featuring elegant coachwork by Touring of Milan and a dual-overheadcamshaft, inline six-cylinder engine – derived from the company’s grand prix and sports racing cars – the 3500 GT was a tremendous success, with over 1,200 examples built through 1964.
Built upon a short-wheelbase chassis, the 3500 GT Spider was unveiled in 1959 and featured glamorous two-seat coachwork, built by Carrozzeria Vignale of Torino to a design by Giovanni Michelotti. As with their Touringbodied counterparts, the Vignale Spiders evolved throughout production, with myriad cosmetic and mechanical changes distinguishing the early and late-production examples. In all, Maserati built just 242 Vignale Spiders between 1960 and 1964, with the model accounting for just over 10% of total 3500 GT production.
The history of this exceptional Maserati, chassis 101.775, can be traced to November 10, 1959, when Dott. Alberto Fassio witnessed the Vignale Spider’s international debut at the Torino Motor Show and placed an order with the factory for a car of his own.
The son of marine shipping magnate Ernesto Fassio, Alberto was one of the wealthiest men in Genoa. His brother, Giorgio, was also among the first Maserati customers to purchase a Vignale Spider, as he owned chassis 101.504C – a pre-production prototype.
According to factory records, Dott. Alberto Fassio ordered his car with the following special characteristics and options: a floor-hinged pedal box (rather than the standard hanging pedals), tip-up seats, foot-activated headlight switch, fire extinguisher, and Borrani wire wheels with Continental Super Record tires.
On January 11, 1960, official dealer Automar sent a letter to the Maserati factory on Dott. Fassio’s behalf, requesting that the new car be finished in black with pigskin upholstery, a cream soft top, and a special exhaust system. That March, following several exchanges between Automar and Maserati, Dott. Fassio revised his initial order, deciding instead to have the Vignale Spider painted Verde Pavone (Peacock Green) and trimmed in black leather with a matching canvas soft top. At this time, he also requested several additional features: an Autovox radio, Champion spark plugs, Gerico horns, and Lucas headlights.
Carrozzeria Vignale completed Dott. Fassio’s car on June 8, 1960. As a very early production “pre-series” example, it had a number of distinctive features, the most notable being a long hood extending to the base of the windscreen. As soon as the Vignale Spider was completed, Maserati issued an invoice for the car (5,306,521 lire) and, by month’s end, Dott. Fassio had it registered in Genoa.
Maserati maintained the Vignale Spider for Dott. Fassio until April 1962, when the car was sold to a resident of Rome. From there, the Maserati passed through a succession of Italian owners and was eventually rediscovered in unrestored condition in 1983, while in the ownership of Luigi Chilò of Castelfranco.
A comprehensive restoration was undertaken in the late 1980s, with Carrozzeria Garuti Elis of Reggio Emilia preparing the coachwork. It was then refinished in its original color by Pietro Cremonini at Carrozzeria Sports Car and trimmed in tan leather by Tappezzeria Luppi. Maserati specialist Franco Tralli of Modena was entrusted to rebuild the car’s mechanical components. According to Walter Bäumer’s book Maserati 3500 GT Spyder by Vignale, 101.775 was then registered as car number 001 with the Registro Maserati.
Since 2003, this Vignale Spider has been a fixture in an important collection of coachbuilt Maseratis, during which time it has benefited from careful maintenance and continued historic research conducted by marque authority Adolfo Orsi. From 2015 to 2016, the Vignale Spider was again refinished in Verde Pavone by a respected Colorado specialist and received additional cosmetic attention to the interior and engine bay, resulting in its outstanding overall presentation today.
Rare, glamorous, and capable of world-class performance, the 3500 GT Vignale Spider is among the most desirable open sports cars of the early 1960s and a worthy rival to contemporary offerings from Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Mercedes-Benz. This early production example, one of approximately 20 “pre-series” cars known to survive, is particularly desirable given that it retains its attractive original livery and matching-numbers engine, as confirmed by the corresponding internal number (444) noted on the factory build record.
For the collector in search of a visually distinctive and highly versatile Italian sports car, there is no need to look any further than this marvelous 3500 GT Vignale Spider – undoubtedly the finest example to appear for public sale in many years.