Monterey | Lot 155
1959 Maserati 3500 GT Spyder by Frua
$605,000 USD | Sold
| Monterey, California
18 August 2017
- A one-off spyder fully custom designed by Pietro Frua
- Intended as a prototype submission for the 3500 GT Spyder
- Widely featured in period magazines and in film
- Desirable five-speed transmission and disc brakes
- A beautiful and truly unique 3500 GT
Torino coachbuilder Pietro Frua produced five custom bodies for the Maserati 3500 GT chassis, all designed with his usual exuberance and intricate detail. Of these, only the car shown here, chassis number AM101 268, was an open spyder. It was designed to one-of-a-kind lines featuring headlights set into subtly “scooped” fenders, delicate flanks with barely-there “coves” decorated in chrome strakes, and slightly flared tailfins.
This design, penned in 1958, was reportedly intended for Maserati to consider for the eventual production 3500 GT Spyder. While that contract would be awarded to Vignale, this unique automobile forecasts future Frua designs for the 5000 GT, and traces of the future production Maserati Sebring and Mexico can be seen in its profile view. One also has to wonder how many Ford designers had this car tacked up on their office wall, since the shape of the door “coves” is remarkably similar to the eventual Mustang! Few road-going custom Maseratis of its era had such far-reaching influence.
The unique spyder was completed in January 1959, after which it was test-driven by Maserati chief mechanic and test driver Guerino Bertocchi and German journalist Richard von Franckenberg on the Motodrom of Modena. It was then exported to France via Paris importer Simone et Thenpenier, and in 1960 was used by the actor Roger Pierre in a scene of the film La Francaise et l’amour, “Love and the French Woman,” before being registered to its first owner, Floret Remy, as RM 27 in Eure.
The next known owner, Bruno Bouvier of Evreux, purchased the car in 1981, and proceeded to have it fully restored, including a new 3500 GT engine acquired from the Maserati factory. Restoration work was continued by the next owner, Peter Garett of Kent, at Glendale Engineering of Oldham, including being finished in the present striking color scheme of pastel yellow with a turquoise and white leather interior, and installing the desirable factory-correct upgrades of a five-speed gearbox and disc brakes.
In December 1991, the completed restoration made an appearance in Classic and Sports Car, as part of a feature article by Martin Buckley. Subsequent caretakers were the noted collectors Philippe Olczyk and Ben Huisman, and the renowned coachbuilt Maserati enthusiast, Alfredo Brener. Mr. Brener had the restoration freshened between 1998 and 2000, with new cream paint, and it appeared at the 2000 Concorso Italiano and 2002 Los Angeles Auto Show. The current owner acquired the 3500 GT from the Brener collection in 2003.
Maserati 3500 GTs are numerous, but unique coachbuilt examples are few and far between. None have the passionate styling and European verve of this car, which is in the first rank of coachbuilt Italian designs of its period – in influence, in drama, and in sheer emotion. It is truly one of a kind.