Amelia Island | Lot 140
1961 Maserati 3500 GT Coupe Speciale by Frua
$550,000 - $700,000 USD
| Amelia Island, Florida
9 March 2018
- One of four 3500 GT coupes coachbuilt by Frua
- Formerly owned by John Bookout and Keith Duly
- Beautiful show restoration by Duly and Chris Charlton
- Original build documentation
- A fascinating "baby 5000 GT"
Chassis no. 1496 is one of four similar Maserati 3500 GT chassis bodied by Frua. Smooth, sleek side panels, curved only by a sharp crease at the beltline, connect a stunning tail. The "of the moment" quad headlamps are set in an attractively custom-designed bezel, and a thin wraparound bumper accentuates an aggressive nose with a deep inset. Typical of Frua, who loved fine detail, the car is sprinkled with delicate chrome accents, including miniature Maserati tridents above the quarter windows.
Frua completed the 3500 GT in May 1961, delivering it to prominent Maserati dealer Martinelli & Sonvico, of Lugano, Switzerland. A month later, it was registered for the first time, as BE 999997, to Jacques Bordier in Bern.
The car was later imported to the U.S., and by the mid-1970s, it was in the hands of a pair of enthusiasts in Chicago, although it was missing its original rear window and engine. It passed into the hands of a Dr. Harms, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and then to Frank Mandarano, the well-known supplier of Maserati cars, parts, and knowledge and the founder of the Concorso Italiano. Mandarano owned the unique Frua 3500 GT for several years before selling it in 1988 to Doug Speer, from whom it was acquired in 1993 by Jerry Wood.
In 1996, renowned Maserati collector John Bookout became the car's next owner. Bookout extensively researched its history with his typical thoroughness, including contacting Adolfo Orsi and Frua historian Stefan Dierkes. Together, the men were able to conclusively confirm the car's identity as chassis no. 1496, and Bookout embarked upon the restoration. Before work had been completed, he sold the car in 2007 to another well-known marque enthusiast, Keith Duly, who is well known for the quality of his own restorations.
Duly completed the car's return-to-original condition, with the cosmetic work being performed by Chris Charlton, of Oxford, Maine, and the mechanical work being performed by Duly's own shop. The work completed included a careful inventory of all of the car's original components, with as many as possible being restored and reused to ensure authenticity. An earlier replacement engine installed in the car was found to be in poor condition, so it was replaced with a freshly rebuilt 3500 GT unit, which is a swap that has occurred in many 3500 GTs of this era. The car was stunningly refinished in Azzuro Metallizato with tan leather upholstery and grey carpets.
After its restoration was complete, the 3500 GT Coupe Speciale was finally debuted, to much acclaim, at the 2011 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. It was acquired by its present owner a short time later, and while in his care, it has continued to be shown at concours and receive the best of care and service. This Speciale was also shown at the 2014 Greenwich Concours, where it was awarded Most Outstanding Maserati, in a field where Maserati was a featured marque, and more recently at the 2015 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, where it was judged 2nd in Class and won an Amelia Award.
The car is accompanied by a certified copy of the original Technical Data Sheet and a Certificate of Origin for chassis no. 1496, both provided to Mr. Duly by Maserati Classiche on 24 August 2011, and copies of the handwritten build record and the original shipping invoice are also included.
Few 3500 GTs have the same epic proportions and aggressive demeanor as the 5000 GT, but this one does, and, indeed, it can be considered the only true "junior" 5000 GT known to survive. In addition, it has been carefully restored by a marque expert for his personal enjoyment following years of careful research and attention by such devoted connoisseurs as John Bookout. It would be a centerpiece for any proper Maserati collection, which without a limited-production or unique creation, would not be considered complete.