- One of just 242 Vignale Spyders built
- Highly original and preserved example
- Two private owners; just over 30,000 original miles
- Accompanied by original owner’s manual
- Includes Maserati Classiche certificate
Maserati first dipped its toes into the grand touring market in 1947 with its A6 1500 followed by limited ventures in the early 1950s with A6 variations. As Maserati was withdrawing from the racing world, its grand touring cars were well received, presenting an opportunity in the high-stakes market; however, it was building too few cars. If Maserati was to remain viable, it needed to participate on a greater scale with competitive grand tourers.
The development of the 3500 GT was carried out between 1956 and 1957, with the reworking of Maserati’s 350S racing engine for a touring car. Coachbuilders Touring and Allemano provided design concepts; with its sophisticated styling, the groundbreaking Touring model was selected for production. At the 1959 Salon de l’Auto in Paris, Maserati introduced the Vignale-bodied 3500 GT Spyder. Designed by Giovanni Michelotti, one of Italy’s most prolific and successful stylists, the Vignale spyder would come to define the 3500 GT.
A year later, Maserati used the Paris show to introduce the Vignale 3500 GTi Spyder, the natural progression in the evolving 3500 series. The GTi featured enhanced performance with its Lucas mechanical fuel injection (the first Italian car with fuel injection) and 232-hp output that gave it a factory-rated top speed of 146 mph.
This highly original 3500 GTi, equipped with the desirable four-wheel disc brakes and five-speed ZF transmission, is a rare find, with only two private owners since its production. It was ordered in Italy on 3 September 1962 by Jeanne D. Forte of Dallas, Texas, and delivered two months later, on 5 November, to Cornacchia Automobili in Milan. It is believed that Mrs. Forte was attached to the United States Embassy in San Marino, hence the Republic of San Marino badging on the roadster’s trunk. When Mrs. Forte returned stateside, the car was shipped to Texas. Reportedly, it was then sold to dealer Max Hoffman in New York where it was quickly transferred—before it entered Hoffman’s inventory—to MM&M Imports in Derby, Ohio, from which the current owner acquired it on 16 April 1973.
The owner notes that the car is unrestored, and has been mechanically maintained for safety and reliability and, when not driven, kept in a heated and protected facility for the past 44 years. The odometer shows just 30,155 original miles. Vehicle care and service has been provided by Studio 47 in New Albany, Ohio. In 2013, Studio 47’s technicians performed a full mechanical overhaul and rebuild of the running gear and potent fuel-injected engine.
The GTi wears its original factory color combination well: an exterior finish of Verde Bosco (dark green) matched to a Neutro (white) Connolly leather interior and black convertible soft top. Maserati badging highlights the marques’ recognizable trident logo and the noted connection to the Republic of San Marino. The dashboard instruments and gauges are all in working order, as is the original five-button, three-band Blaupunkt radio. The owner has restored the car’s Borrani wire wheels and knock-off hubs, and mounted new Pirelli tires.
One appealing aspect of the GTi Spyder is the joy of open-air driving. However, should one prefer a more weather-resistant experience, the roadster includes the original factory-equipped hardtop, in the matching Verde Bosco, with an off-white headliner. The ownership document and a service manual—in Italian with English translation—also accompany the car.
Between 1957 and 1964, a total of 2,226 3500 GTs were built; only 245 of these were Vignale Spyders. This GTi has unrealized potential with a new owner who will continue to preserve and enjoy its incredible originality.