Maserati has been around for many years, dating back to the mid 1930's. They strictly produced racing cars and special "one off" touring sedans until the late 1950's. On March 20, 1957 the 3500GT was announced as the first "production" Maserati at the Geneva Car Show . The car was bodied by Touring of Milan with superleggera (extra-light) construction. This was achieved by hand forming aluminum panels over a steel frame. In addition a few "one off" cars were produced by various coachworks including Bertone and Allemano. Priced at over $12,000, this car was targeted at a very exclusive audience.
In 1959 a lovely spyder (convertible) version designed by Michelotti, while at Carrozzeria Vignale, was introduced on a shorter wheel base. The spyder shared most of the mechanical components with the coupe but the coach work was totally different. Also, the spyder was constructed out of steel (except hood, trunk and in some cars, doors). All spyders have an odd number serial number, except a few prototypes. I own Vignale spyder #504, which was the first produced. Click here for photos of that car..
Power came from the race proven Maserati 3.5 liter in-line six with aluminum block and dual overhead cams. A very unique feature is the use of dual spark plugs per cylinder and dual coils. Many people not familiar with this engine think it is an in-line 12 cylinder ! Initially, the 3500GT had Weber carbs, 4-speed gearbox and drum brakes but by the end of the production in 1964 the car was fuel injected, 5-speed and disc brakes all around. The Maserati 3500GTi became the first Italian production car with fuel injection. It uses the same Lucas fuel injection found on some very famous Jaguar race cars.
While Ferrari primary focus was on performance, Maserati was more interested in "Grand Touring". This is very evident by the attention to details. While the interior of a Ferrari of the same era is rather sparse, the Maserati driver was presented with a very attractive combination of chrome trims, gauges, switches, indicator lights and levers and lots of leather. Even power windows were a standard feature. Although not designed to be a race car, the 3500GT performs quite well with 235BHP at 5800 RPM.
Only about 2000 3500GT coupes and 245 spyders were built between 1957 to 1964.