- The sole survivor of two cars built in 1961 to this striking Frua design
- Formerly owned by John Bookout and Keith Duly
- Beautiful show restoration by Duly and Chris Charlton
- Original build documentation
- A fascinating “baby 5000 GT”
220 bhp, 3,485 cc DOHC inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, coil-spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with coil springs and radius arms, and hydraulic front disc and rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.1 in.
Few coachbuilders of the 1960s produced as audacious coachwork on Maserati chassis as Pietro Frua’s Carrozzeria Turin. In particular, Frua’s talented hands were responsible for some of the most audacious bodies for the “super Maserati,” the 5000 GT. Each 5000 GT was a unique, bespoke, tailored automobile, and it is only fitting that Frua’s unique designs on those chassis would inspire special creations for other Maseratis as well.
The car offered here, chassis number AM101.1496, is one of two similar 3500 GT chassis bodied by Frua, both in 1961. The other was AM101.1494, and as its whereabouts have been unknown for many years, it is believed to be lost or even destroyed. 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. Later, circa 1963, Frua built two more cars to a similar design in the fuel-injected 3500 GTi series.
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 the city of Bern, Switzerland.
The car was later imported to the United States, 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 number AM101.1496, 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, whose restorations have won Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, 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, originally red with light brown Connolly leather upholstery, was stunningly refinished in Azzuro Metallizato with tan leather upholstery and grey carpets, resulting in a wonderfully handsome color combination for such a daring design.
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 by Autosport Designs. This Speciale was recently shown at the 2014 Greenwich Concours, where it was awarded Most Outstanding Maserati, in a field where Maserati was a featured marque. The consignor notes that the car has been “serviced religiously,” and as such, it would be proper to continue on the show circuit and no doubt be a supreme pleasure to drive!
It is accompanied by a certified copy of the original Technical Data Sheet and a Certificate of Origin for AM101.1496, both provided to Mr. Duly by Maserati Classiche on August 24, 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.
This spectacular automobile is a car that could personify any proper Maserati collection, which without a limited-production or unique creation would not be considered complete, particularly one without this all-important centenary year for the marque of the trident.