AM101/S*557* - Sebring 3.5 Series 1 - 1962

This is one of the rarest and most desirable of all Sixties’ Maserati, a genuine right-hand drive, UK supplied, Series 1 Sebring. Finished in red with a tan leather interior, the car has just been serviced and is ready for the Summer. There are currently no others on sale and the last time one was available it broke all records. The desirable number plate 50 PK is included in the sale of this remarkable piece of Italian sculpture. Introduced in 1962, the Sebring was one of the final manifestations of the landmark 3500GT, which had been the linchpin of Maserati’s programme to establish itself as a manufacturer of road cars. Despite numerous racetrack successes that included Juan Manuel Fangio’s fifth World Championship - at the wheel of a 250F - and runner-up spot in the World Sports Car Championship with the fabulous 450S - both in 1957, the marque’s most successful season - Maserati was by that time facing a bleak future. Its parent company’s financial difficulties forced a withdrawal from racing and Maserati’s survival strategy for the 1960s centred on switching production from competition to road models. The Modena marque’s new era began in 1957 with the launch of the Touring-bodied 3500GT, its first road car built in significant numbers. A luxury 2+2, the 3500GT drew heavily on Maserati’s competition experience, employing a tubular chassis frame and an engine derived from the 350S sportscar unit of 1956. Suspension was independent at the front by wishbones and coil springs, while at the back there was a conventional live axle/semi-elliptic arrangement. The 3500GT’s designer was none other than Giulio Alfieri, creator of the immortal Tipo 60/61 ‘Birdcage’ sports-racer and the man responsible for developing the 250F into a World Championship winner. The twin-overhead-camshaft, six-cylinder engine was a close relative of that used in the 250F and developed around 220bhp initially with later examples producing 235bhp on Lucas mechanical fuel injection. Built initially with drum brakes and four-speed transmission, the 3500GT was progressively updated, gaining five speeds, front disc brakes and, finally, all-wheel disc braking. A car possessing such impeccable antecedents not unnaturally attracted the attention of Italy’s finest carrozzeria: Allemano, Bertone and Frua all created bodies for the 3500GT chassis. Most coupés were the work of Touring, while all but one (a Frua-bodied example) of the much less common spyder version were the work of Carrozzeria Vignale. Introduced in 1959, Vignale’s Maserati 3500GT Spyder was the creation of Giovanni Michelotti, at that time the company’s star designer. Built on a slightly shorter wheelbase - 250cm as opposed to 260cm - than the coupé and constructed of steel panels rather than the closed car’s aluminium, the spyder lasted in production until 1964, by which time only 245 cars had been made. Built on the short-wheelbase chassis of the spyder and likewise styled by Vignale, the Sebring 2+2 coupé arrived in 1962. By now a five-speed gearbox, four-wheel disc brakes and fuel injection were standard equipment, with automatic transmission, air conditioning and a limited-slip differential available as options. Introduced in 1965, the Sebring Series II came with a 3.7-litre, 245bhp engine while some cars left the factory with 4.0-litre units towards the end of production in 1966, by which time 591 Sebrings had been built, around 400 of which were in the first series. According to the secretary of the Maserati Club this example left the factory in metallic Maroon and came to the UK in 1962, but subsequently spent some time in Jersey before coming back and being totally restored in the Nineties. It retains the original engine and sounds absolutely stunning. The Sebring was some 22% more expensive than the equivalent Aston Martin DB5 launched later that same year. A beautiful and original example of the extremely rare, right-hand drive, ‘Series I’ Sebring, of which there are thought to be less than 10 made (only three of which are known today to Maserati UK). The car has only had four owners since 1962 and the indicated mileage is a mere 45,000. Offered with a large history file, current MoT certificate and V5 registration document, you will not see another for many years. A Sebring, on the short wheelbase, is essentially a closed version of the Vignale Spider, and they are now trading at over £1million for perfect examples! When compared to an equivalent Aston Martin at over double the price, we feel this Sebring represents superb value, for what is a highly sophisticated and elegant ‘Grand Tourer’, perfect for those collectors seeking exclusivity combined with Italian flair.