Unrestored: Maserati 3500GT Coupe

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Hiding out at the seller’s shop in Santa Barbara, California is this unrestored Maserati 3500 GT. The seller would be happy for you to purchase the car and hire them to restore it, but you are not obligated to if you win the auction. It’s listed here on eBay with an opening bid of $25,000 and a reserve higher than that.

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I have to confess before writing any more that I am an unabashed fan of the 3500 GT and Sebring models from Maserati, having owned and cherished it’s little Vignale brother (a Triumph Italia 2000 GT) for almost 30 years. This car has had only two previous owners (apart from the seller) and was originally sold in Italy. An American serviceman purchased it in the 1960’s and brought it home to San Fransisco. It was last on the road in 1997.

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By this picture alone, the seller makes a convincing case for having them restore the car (assuming you have the funds to write some very large checks). I think what I’d want to do, though, is get it running first and get the car set mechanically, then turn to the cosmetics if I grew tired of having the car everyone wanted to look at wherever I parked.

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While those rear seats are the original leather, the front ones have  been reupholstered in vinyl. They did about as good a job of matching the color as they did matching the material! Just like in my Italia, rear seat leg room is more of an imaginary concept than a real one.

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With the triple side draft Webers on the side and the twin cam covers, this has to be one of the more interesting engines in appearance from this era. The seller tells us that the carbs flood out when a starting attempt is made, but at least the oil pressure comes up while the engine is rotating. With my limited knowledge of Weber side drafts (enough to be dangerous) I’d take everything apart, clean it up, replace gaskets and seals and try to fire it up! What would you do?

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Comments

  1. Dan h

    Hmmm..tempting…

  2. wynkin

    Spent some time in Switzerland going by the CH on the boot.

    • Timmy Leahy

      They are full aluminium arnt they i remember seeing one amage in a chook she just outsi e of leppington in NSW when i was young ..

    • Dave Wright

      Country code badges are frequently put on just as a status symbol, maby someone’s wife was from Switzerland, who knows. The car seems pretty well documented.

  3. DRV

    W much a car can deteriorate in time. This has always been collectible, yet it is in this shape only because of being neglected in storage.
    I’ve ridden in a beautiful red all original one and will always dream of having one to drive. This would be fun to have mechanically capable and looking scruffy.

  4. Chris A.

    This appears to be one of the early 3500’s as it has the Webers, not the Lucas fuel injection. I looked at one of these several years back, but this one is in much better shape and appears worn and neglected, but at least it is all there and not all rusted out. Lots of Brit parts on it, I think the brakes are Girling discs, with a Salisbury rear end. Not a race car, although that twin ignition Maserati engine is from a long lineage of their inline 6 racing designs, and reliable if properly maintained. Maybe 240 HP. I’ve always thought of these as the Italian E-type and a true GT. This probably has the 4 speed, the 5 speed came later. My guess is between $75-100K all in with the car worth about that once restored. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but 3500’s are a good sized car with lots of room inside at least for the front two seats. Nice car.

    • Dave Wright

      All 3500 GT’s were carbureted, the 3500 GTI was fuel injected. I think it was 1957 that Maserati won Indy with a similar engine. They called the car some company name special…….can’t remember right now. They are a great Colombo designed engine.

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Dave, I’ve got to call you on this one. The Boyle Special was the only Maserati ever to win at Indy (1939 & 1940); it was an 8CTF with an twin cam, dual supercharged straight 8. See here for more detail. Now, in the late 1950’s, Fangio was winning all kinds of grand prix in the 250F, that may be what you were thinking of; it had a 2.5 liter inline 6. See here for more detail.

      • Dave Wright

        I couldn’t remember whitch car or year it was…….thought it was later….but I am sure you are correct. When did Fangio go to Mercedes? Most people have no idea Maserati ever won Indy.

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Fangio was with Mercedes in 1955 I know. They pulled out after the tragedy at LeMans.

      • Dave Wright

        Yes off course…….I always think of him as a Mercedes driver…….

  5. Dolphin Dolphin Member

    This is another of those cars I wish I bought about 25 years ago when they were $6,000 in decent driver condition, or less if they had needs. The engine was derived from the Maserati race cars of the past, and was put into production for these road cars. Same approach with Ferrari for some, but not all of of their V12s.

    The seller is right, this car is a good base to restore because it’s complete and unmolested. But it won’t be cheap to restore if you want a perfect car. The SCM Guide has the median recent auction price paid for these at $240K, and the high auction price paid at $660K, which shows you that a special example can pull in almost 3 times what a regular ‘nice’ car would sell for.

    You would need to get a clear idea what the restorer says the car needs, and then an estimate for what the costs will be because the car is bid to $60K after just a few hours, and will likely sell for over $100K. Then you would need to be careful you don’t spend more for the car + restoration than it’s worth.

    • Dave Wright

      You are thinking like a flipper. An investor or someone that likes the car will look at future value. A dealer wants to buy wholesale to make a profit……..a real car guy buys what he likes and holds for a longer term…….like buying real estate. A positive cash flow is nice but the real money is made with appreciation. I owned and drove these cars for a decade or so in the old days. They are solid drivers, well designed and built. The 3500 GT was one of the less desireable models but still very nice. As for an investment, it is much easier to pay 100,000 for the car this car today and another 50,000 a year the next 2 or 3 years to a restorer while the car appreciates than writing a 250,000 check for a restored car today.

    • Dolphin Dolphin Member

      Dave, thanks so much for the financial information on dealing in cars. I’m happy for you that you owned and drove exotic Maseratis back in the old days. I guess I wasn’t as smart as you since, like I said, I never did buy one when they were more or less affordable at $6K. And like most people, I now can’t afford one since the price for a good one is from 1/4 to 2/3 of a $million.

      Sorry to have to disagree, but even if you believe that I think like a flipper, I have never flipped a car in my life. And I have never been an investor in cars either, since I don’t have the capital to do so. So as much as I value your advice on investing in cars, I will not be able to use it.

      In fact, I have lost money on every car I owned except one, which wasn’t a flip, since during the years I owned it I drove it a lot, across the continent and back a few times. I’m guessing that doesn’t qualify as a flip in your thinking.

      And I happened to sell that car the week my first child was born. I guess you could say that I am a failed small time car guy since I valued the child more than the car, and I needed the money. But when I do buy a car it’s because I like the car and intend to keep it, not because I’m going to flip it.

      So as much as I appreciate your comments about me and your advice, it might just be a fact that you really don’t know as much about me as you think you do.

      • Dave Wright

        I was an E5 in the Air Force when my first child was born…….but she came home from the hospital in a Maserati Mistral that I sold 5 years later to buy 3 semi’s that I used to start my first truck company. I owned that car for 10 years and made over 50k and a lot of great memories owning it. I paid less for that car than my buddies were paying for new cars that in the same 10 years had depreciated to little of any value. It is all about choices.

      • David Frank David F Member

        Dolphin, thank you for clearing that up, seriously. I, too, may have had a misconception. You see, in our neck of the woods, “Dolphin” is slang for flipper. (Remember the TV show, “flipper”?) I was puzzled, because I could not imagine, given your appreciation of cars in previous comments. Thank you sir for sharing your knowledge and perspective. It’s good to know you are not a “flipper”!

  6. Fred W.

    Don’t know much about the exotics, just know that I sure like this one. What beautiful styling!

  7. joe

    Around the late ’90’s I went to look at a 3500GT out of a storage unit in Kissimmee, Fl. (south of Orlando). Seller fired it up and backed it out. It was scruffy, but ran reasonably. I think he was asking $12 – $15,000 for it. I had a bottomless money pit Pantera at the time – as well as some other sports cars, so decided it would cost too much to restore. Another one of my dumb car decisions. Ask me about the $22,000 red Dino coupe around the same time which drove quite well (in Orlando).

  8. Peter

    If I owned one of these I would lift the bonnet up every time I parked it so everyone could see that beautiful twin-spark engine.

    • Michael Rogers

      In the 50’s and 60’s, I ALWAYS had a bunch of other young guys that “wanted to help” (ie) be around an interesting car in my parents carport. Now I have a 2000 sqft shop with a lift, spray booth and much more interesting cars and very few even notice them when on the street! Young people are into games and older guys are struggling to get by without time to think much less play with cars.

  9. Bill McCoskey

    Back in 1985, the US Dollar was king, and the British Pound was dropping terribly, so In May of that year, I headed to London to buy vintage British cars. I test drove a gorgeous LHD 3500 at one of the exotic car dealers in London, and I fell in love with it. Problem was, his lowest price was about 6,000 PS, basically $6,200 with exchange costs. I was being offered really nice Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows and Bentley T series cars in that price range, so I passed on it.

    Oh well, this is just one of those many cars I shouda bought, but didn’t.

  10. Bruce Best

    I had a chance to purchase two of these when I was younger and I passed at the time because I was too young and had never restored a car before. That same year I passed on two Lotus Elites with LHD for the exact same reason. A couple of years later I restored a 1963 Alfa Giulietta which just recently sold again for near $100k. A car I purchased for $300 at the ripe old age of 16.

    After 5 years I restored it and later purchased the next model of Maserati a 1966 Sebring. I can attest that these are fun cars to drive and many of the parts are easier to find than you might think. The transmissions are ZF and much of the suspension is Jaguar derived. Yes the rear end is Salisbury, the brakes are almost the exact same parts as found on MK II Jags. The door handles are exactly the same as found on my Giuliettia.

    Except for an amazingly complex water pump and head gasket design the only thing complicated about the engine is the webbers. They are wonderful when set up properly but can be a massive pain in the ass to do so.

    You must remember that all the exotic Italian car makers were very small shops and most of the body, frames and other parts were made in very basic or simple ways. That they looked so amazing was part of the art but the technology to make them was almost crude by the standards of even the 1980’s much less today.

    Yes restore this one, do it yourself with the help of experts and you will save a huge amount of money and have yourself a wonderful driver that is far more reliable than you could expect. Ferrari had the power and the flash but the rich drove the Maserati cars everywhere.

  11. John

    When I think of a “grand touring” car, I think Maserati 3500 GT. I cannot afford this car. But if I were to become a multi-zillionaire tomorrow, I would charter a jet to get to SF tomorrow (or later tonight) so that I could end this auction immediately. I would buy this car in a heartbeat.

    Alas, I can only dream. But I did drive one of these back in the early 80’s over Canyon Dume’ near Malibu. Had life ended on that drive, I would have gone on to my reward knowing that my life had been well-lived.

    It’s that kind of car, folks. Please, somebody, buy it and restore it to its original form. You will be rewarded in the life hereafter.

    It’s a great car.

  12. Drew

    This is gonna sell over $100k. I would get the engine, box & suspension in a reliable state & drive as is for a while.

  13. Chris A.

    There actually was a sort of 50’s Indy Maserati. I think it was called the “Eldorado Special” and it was built by Eldorado Van Lines for an Indy type race that was run on the high speed oval at Monza around 1957. I don’t think it had the inline 6; Maserati stuffed the DOHC 450 V8 in the chassis. Weird race run in two heats.

  14. RNR

    When this car was new, the Aurora Plastics Corp (the HO slot car folks) made a nice 1/25 scale model kit of it. I shaved the bumpers and painted mine Pactra Candy Blue over a silver base and dropped a fully chromed Revell Parts Pack 392 Hemi in it (with dual carbs, not blown – I wasn’t a barbarian!). Still have it.

    Not that I’d recommend the same treatment for this 3500….

  15. Michael Rogers

    I found the 3500 to be silky smooth, a car to dream of but then in the 60’s I could only afford my Moretti TourDu Munde/Simca which I sold for $350. for another year at University.

    That’s the problem with the hobby, by the time you can afford the toys you’d like, you’re past your prime. go to Laguna Seca in August and you’ll see wonderful cars,–all owned by 50,60,70 year old guys.

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