Thursday, January 27, 2011

Scottsdale 2011: A Tale of Two Maseratis

Scottsdale, Arizona saw two Touring-bodied Maserati 3500 GTIs cross the auction block this past week. One was at Gooding, the other at Russo and Steele. The cars were as different from one another as the venues; however they offered a good chance to pin an accurate value on a rare and appreciating Italian exotic.

Gooding's car, a 1964 coupe, could charitably be described as "full of patina". That is not a bad thing as Gooding's strongest sales of the weekend included a barnfind Tucker, a one-owner unrestored Fiat 8V Supersonic and a time-warp '62 MB 300SL Roadster- purposefully untouched by the detailer as to preserve its quarter-inch of accumulated dust. This Maser's grey paint was aged, the headliner rotting, and the pesky Lucas mechanical fuel injection stumbling. The brighwork was dull and the brakes non-existent (which made for a suspenseful entrance onto the auction dais). The car was offered at No Reserve but languished for an opening bid of $50k- it's only and final bid- as the room expressed palpable disinterest in the car. It was sold to a dealer in the New York metro area which specializes in lower-end condition cars and it will be interesting to see what he'll list it for. I spoke with another Maserati specialist who regretted missing the car at that price. Apparently the smart money is bullish on 3500 GTI appreciation potential?

The second car, a 1965 Touring Coupe which ran across Russo and Steele's stage Saturday night, was a fish out of water amongst the American Muscle consignments. Perhaps that was the genius of the venue selection, for it was sold at a hammer price of $100k. Recently repainted in striking dark blue basecoat/clearcoat full of minor flaws, with a just-fitted grey interior and spotless engine crankcase, the car gave every impression of being tarted up for sale. Cars like these worry me as much as the unrestored for they have not been fully vetted after reassembly. However, this one did seem to run well up to the block, undoubtedly aided by the triple Weber setup which replaced the stock fuel injection. Only the most puritan Maserati fan would cherish the Lucas system, which is truly arcane and flawed from inception, and a cottage industry exists in providing conversion kits. Nonetheless, I had the car pegged at $85k...but the excitement of the Russo circus propelled it over the top and free of the seller's reserve.

So what was the best Maserati 3500 value of the weekend? Stay tuned for my take....

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