Berlinetta Production Prototype
Chassis #: AM 101 058
The financial troubles the Maserati brothers, Bindo, Ernesto and Ettore, would find themselves in toward the late 1930s would affect the direction of their company in more ways than the brothers would realize. Of course, the most important way the company would be affected would be that the brothers would lose the company bearing their own name in 1947. Secondly, the troubles would change the focus of the company on a whole. But that would be a good thing as it would give the world the 3500 GT.
The Maserati brothers were geniuses when it came to designing grand prix and sports cars for the track. However, designing and building cars for production for the street was never really something the brothers focused on. This, of course, would be one of the problems the brothers would have. Companies like Alfa Romeo, even Enzo Ferrari, came to realize the need for street car sales to help offset costs associated with racing. And when the brothers sold their company to the Adolfo Orsi family in 1937, things would change.
The brothers would gain a lot of experience building cars and abandoning their own efforts when the Second World War would start. Then, after the war, Maserati would begin focusing on building cars for the public as this would help the company rise back up from the war a whole lot quicker. This would lead to the A6 1500 built in 1947 just at about the time the brothers would leave to start O.S.C.A.
The A6 1500 had actually begun its development during the midst of World War II but would be delayed because of the need to build cars and components for the Italian war effort. When it finally would be debuted in 1947, it would create quite a bit of noise and would set the course for Maserati's legacy building elite GranTurismo machines that many would feel would dawn with the creation of the 3500.
Given the racing heritage of Maserati, and the fact that is what most people would expect and look for from the company, Adolfo Orsi and designer Giulio Alfieri would discuss what they would like to devise for a road-going car. They would agreed on a concept. It would have to be a fast GT car that would be not only exciting to drive, but also, practical and comfortable. What the two would decide upon would become the template for every other Maserati road car ever to be produced and continues on to this very day.
Maserati would turn to Carrozzeria Touring in Milan and Carrozzeria Allemano in Turin to design a couple of prototypes. These two prototypes would make their first appearance at the Geneva Motor Show in March of 1957. Of the two concepts on display, the design penned by Carrozzeria Touring would be the one that would collect the most acclaim.
Knowing which design the company would go with, Maserati would set to work making some minor adjustments along with Touring. This would lead to a couple more concept cars that would be produced later on in 1957. These concepts would then be sent to other shows as the 3500 GT model Maserati would offer in the spring of 1958. And one of those one-off factory production prototypes would be available for sale at the 2012 RM Auction in Arizona.
Chassis AM 101 58 had been built in the late fall of 1957. All throughout the summer months Maserati had been testing its 3500GT prototypes, putting them through numerous driving tests. The company wanted to make sure they produced a car that met the guidelines Orsi and Alfieri had established; they wanted to make sure it would be a car fitting of Neptune's trident.
Each of the prototypes produced prior to 1958 had numerous differences to the cars that would actually be produced and this particular chassis would be no exception. Used for internal use and evaluation within the company, the chassis offered at auction had remained at the Maserati factory through the spring of 1958 serving as a test car and a demonstrator. The car would remain with the factory and would be tested at the Modena Autodromo where even the American E.D. Martin would remember taking it for a spin. All throughout its time with the factory, it would go through numerous updates and revisions.
While this car would have elements that would only be found on early production models of the 3500GT, it would also sport numerous other elements that would only be found on this particular chassis. Such features would include a rather ornate steering wheel with Maserati's trident in brass, a fine mesh front grille, hand-made chrome deck-lid supports, a one-off dashboard with Jaeger gauges, hand-painted badges and labels, a tachometer with no redline, a unique chassis frame with suspension geometry different than the production models, a 300S-type oil cooler, magnesium Alfin brake drums and even chrome-plated brass side trim and Carrozzeria Touring badges that are all unique in their design.
All dressed up, this Maserati would have places to go. It would end up going to Maserati's official Paris agent, Thepenier. John Simone of Thepenier would register the car for a month and would put it on display at the 1958 Paris Motor Show. During this time with Thepenier, the car would be go through extensive work and would be brought up to show quality, only to be bought back by the Maserati factory.
More testing and internal use would follow for the car. The factory would even go so far as to register the car with Bologna plates. Finally, after nearly two years of use within the company, the chassis would be deemed surplus, and therefore, would be offered for private sale.
The car wouldn't travel too far when bought. Karlina Catillion du Perron would be the car's private owner and she lived in Bologna. She would purchase the car in September of 1959 for 1.5 million lire. She would only own the car a month before she would sell it. At that time, the car would reunite with a familiar partner. Thepenier would purchase the car, who in turn, would resell it to Roger Baillon of Niort. Baillon would end up being the car's longest owner as he would own it for four years before he would part with it in 1963.
Alfredo Brener's Maserati Museum Collection would become noted for having the finest collection of rare and custom 3500GTs ever. This car would be perfectly suited for the collection and would enter it when it was sold once again. It would remain as part of the collection for nearly twenty years until Kasumoto Sasaki fought and fought for the right to pick it out of the collection.
The car would remain with Sasaki for a little more than a decade before it would again come to be in the center of some intense negotiations. Maserati had started to release some of the details surrounding some of its cars. Not surprisingly, especially given the amount of time AM 101 058 remained at the factory, the car would come to be noticed and longed after. It would take two years of negotiations but, finally, the car is now available once again.
While surely exhibiting some wear, the car still grandly represents the car that launched Maserati's fame in the GranTurismo market. Complete with numerous assembly records and invoices from the factory itself assembled by Maserati's After Sales Director, Sig. George Mauro, this 3500GT is a truly rare, exotic example of the famed model.
Expected to sell for $170,000 to $200,000, this particular chassis is more than just a 3500GT, it is ultimately rare and unique in so many ways. But its majesty comes not just in its uniqueness, but in the fact that it would be the car that sent the imagination running. It would be the car that would help cause 3500GTs to be driven by such people as Prince Ranier III of Monaco, Alberto Sordi, Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson and Anthony Quinn. It is one of those 3500GTs that 'effectively achieved the marque's transition from racing car to road car manufacturer.Sources:
'Feature Lots: Lot No. 260: 1957 Maserati 3500GT Berlinetta by Carrozzeria Touring', (http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ12&CarID=r187&fc=0). RM Auction. http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ12&CarID=r187&fc=0. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
'Heritage: 3500 GT Touring', (http://www.maserati.us/maserati/us/en/index/passion/Heritage/Gran-Turismo/m3500-Touring.html). Maserati: Excellence Through Passion. http://www.maserati.us/maserati/us/en/index/passion/Heritage/Gran-Turismo/m3500-Touring.html. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Maserati 3500', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 December 2011, 23:09 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Maserati_3500&oldid=464117724 accessed 11 January 2012
Wikipedia contributors, 'Maserati', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 17 December 2011, 09:19 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Maserati&oldid=466302594 accessed 11 January 2012 By Jeremy McMullen