He surpassed Aston Martin, Facel Vega and Ferrari and became the ruler of the GT class
1957 is considered by many to be the pinnacle of Maserati history: Juan Manuel Fangio dominated the Formula One season and the mighty 1S was arguably the fastest racing two-seater. But the factory was in the midst of financial collapse due to arrears on industrial tools shipped to Argentina and Spain, and passenger car production would rarely exceed more than one copy a month.
Engineer Giulio Alfieri was therefore given the task of developing a true passenger model, which could bring profit, with simple construction. Modified racing engine 350S (close relative of the winning F1 engine), tubular chassis dressed in a beautiful Touring 'superleggera' suit, and collected the best finished components from various European manufacturers (ZF's gearbox, initially with 4, later 5 gears, Girling brakes… )
Shortly before Christmas 1957, production began on a model called the 3500 GT. By the end of that year, 18 pieces had been assembled, in the range of previous year-round production. The model conquered the American market first and saved Maserati, but it also sold well in 'dolce vita' Italy and elsewhere, far exceeding the production figures of competitors from Ferrari, Aston Martin, Facel Vega…
The sleek 6 cc 3485-cylinder developed 220-235 hp, enough for top speed, depending on the transmission, in the range of 215-230 km / h (Spyder) and 235-245 km / h (coupe). Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, Stewart Granger, Anthony Quinn, Alberto Sordi, Dan Blocker from ‘Bonanza’… are some of the owners of the model. Most of the 2226 units produced in the 3500 series are Touring coupes, with 242-245 Spyders and a dozen 'fuoriserie' attempts by several Italian bodybuilders.
At the request of the American importer of the brand, it was introduced at the Turin Fair in 1959, and Spyder (also called Convertible in some factory brochures), produced on a shorter chassis, arrived in production in 1960. Wheelbase was 2500 instead of 2600 mm, but with serial by raising and lowering windows to electricity. The Touring prototype (two were produced) was not accepted, but Giovanni Michelotti's beautiful design for the Vignale house was selected.
The predominantly steel structure (only the bonnet and boot lid and optional hardtop were made of aluminum, unlike the coupe) brought some mass and reduced performance, but the comfort and practicality of lowering the roof were greatly affected. The most famous customer was Dean Martin. Mechanical changes were introduced at the same time as the coupe (though fuel injection is far less specified), but production stopped in 1964.
A slight redesign arrived in 1961, a mechanically related coupe, originally numbered 3500 GTS, and later known as the Sebring (on the shorter Spyder chassis), began replacing it in 1962, and production ceased the following year, with only one copy completed in 1965 The model was constantly upgraded, started with 4 drums, got optional first, then serial front discs, and ended with all 4 discs.
The carburettors are intended for the not-so-reliable Lucas fuel injection, and many specimens have subsequently been modified to earlier specifications. 4760-480 mm long, 1600-1760mm wide and 1300-1330 mm high, it was an imposing 2 + 2 car, weighing 1360-1422 kg. In addition, he largely determined the development of design, and many sports models in the 1960s, especially Touring's Lancia Flamini GT, can be considered as the development of his ideas.
With precise handling and ease of driving at low speeds, this was a near-perfect GT car, whose glory was only dimmed when Jaguar introduced the E-Type in 1961, which offered all that but at half the price. But the key task, the survival of Maserati, has completely fulfilled and spearheaded the transformation of that factory from a racing race car with a few hand-folded travel specimens to a manufacturer of thoroughbred and exciting passenger cars, placing it in the position it still holds today.
Until recently, it was a gross understatement, but today things have come to the right place, so you have to spend at least 200.000 euros for a coupe, and about a million for Spyder. The six-cylinder deficiency compared to Ferrari models of the same era is certainly reflected in today's value, but Spyder is by no means ten times weaker than the 6 GT Californian, and the difference in price of the coupe of the two brands is not entirely justified.
Author: Dino Milic Jakovlic
Retrieved from: www.autoportal.hr
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