An Italian sports car with four doors and a rear seat was as unimaginable then as Porsche building an SUV would be years laterChassis number: 1071462 One of the world’s fastest luxury saloons of its day, this early Quattroporte was first registered on September 29, 1967 with the cherished number plate ‘YP 6’ by Maserati Concession of Holland Park Avenue, London W1. The current vendor purchased the car in 2005 from Anthony Hartley, and a full list of all previous owners is available for inspection. Over the period 2008–2009, the Maserati underwent extensive refurbishment, with the engine, suspension, brakes and air conditioning being overhauled by marque specialists Bill McGrath Maserati. In addition, the interior has been retrimmed by Kish Executive of Sunderland, the body having been restored and repainted during previous ownership. Finished in red with gray interior, the car is described as in generally excellent condition and offered with old-style logbook, MoT/tax to May 2012, Swansea V5 document and sundry restoration/service invoices.
|Vehicle:||1967 Maserati Quattroporte sedan|
This car, Lot 437, sold for $80,095, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ The December Sale at Brooklands, Weybridge, U.K., on December 1, 2011.
I would like to remind all reading this profile of my waxing lyrical on the subject of sedans in the September 2011 issue of this magazine. That “Collecting Thoughts” piece (p. 42) called on enlightened collectors to see beyond shallow considerations of surface appeal and give sedans a closer look.
Why? First and foremost their dynamic properties, often matching and sometimes exceeding in balance their sexier two-door relatives. Second was the obvious economic benefits of vastly lower purchase prices, which are, however, often canceled out by the cost of restoration, repair and maintenance, which is of course identical to that of their more valuable relatives. Third was the opportunity for appreciation, which I will return to at the end. Don’t peek.
A ripping fast sedan
The Quattroporte was certainly a bold move for Maserati when it was launched in 1963. It was not the first grand touring sport sedan — that crown can be credibly worn by the 1961 Lagonda Rapide or even the 1958 Facel Vega Excellence.
What set the Quattroporte apart was that while a fast sedan might be expected from a British or French firm, the idea of an Italian sports car with four doors and a more-than-habitable rear seat was as unimaginable then as Porsche building an SUV would be years later.
That Maserati read the market right can be seen in the rapturous press the car received on launch — my absolute favorite being in Car and Driver, which famously said, “A four-cam, five-speed, five-digit Wonder Wagon that will zoom you up, up, up the social ladder fast as a Lear Jet.”
The car also performed well in the showroom. While there were a few other gran turismo sedans, most notably the 1961 Lagonda Rapide, they didn’t have the impact of the Quattroporte. The numbers tell that story, as 55 Lagonda Rapides were sold in three years, against 770 of the Maseratis over six years.
The first series, comprising 260 examples, was equipped with a 4.1-liter, 4-cam V8 derived from the 4.9-liter unit of the 5000GT. It also replaced the GT’s Lucas fuel injection with a quartet of 2-barrel Weber carburetors.
The second series, of which this car is an example, was built to be quieter, more comfortable, a bit lighter and cheaper to build. The second series lost the original De Dion rear axle in favor of a conventional unit, but it gained a 4.7-liter engine, and the quad headlights of the U.S. model replaced the single, square units.
The car was a stunning performer, with the factory boasting that the 143 mph top speed was faster than the Porsche 356 Carrera 2’s 124 mph and not far off the Ferrari 250 GT/Lusso’s 149 mph.
Red isn’t always better
When considering this car, I cannot avoid a discussion of color. I admit a personal bias against large cars being painted bright red, which I feel works so much better on a smaller canvas. The overall impression a fire engine red sedan gives is, well, of a fire engine — or at least a fire chief’s transport.
Interestingly, there were actually five Quattroportes converted into fire trucks for Italian race circuits back in 1967. However, they were painted white, which is the common color for fire apparatus in Italy. That said, the catalog photographs portray a car that appeared to be restored to a generally high level, albeit with some departures taken from original specification. None is more striking than the red contrast piping on the light gray seats, which was repeated on the trim on the instrument pod surround.
The wood trim is a lovely, mirror-like, heavily figured burled walnut. The panel fit appears good, although both front doors seem to be slightly out at the rear edge. The narrow whitewall tires it wears, while period-correct, to my eye seem a bit effete on a car as masculine-looking as the Quattroporte.
At the December 2009 exchange rate, the £25,000 of maintenance and rebuild receipts from a leading Maserati specialist said to be on file equaled $39,750. That’s a pretty clear indication of how serious the seller of this Maserati was about the drivability of his car — which is a very good thing. Also contributing to the interest in this car is that its vendor had purchased it from Anthony Hartley, a very well- known and well-heeled U.K. Maserati collector.
Boom or one-time bang?
Now to the price — what was up here? Was this irrational exuberance or a sign of a new market? In my opinion, it was just a touch of the former and a lot of the latter.
After repeating our mantra, “One sale does not a market make,” let’s take a look at the trends. The 2009 SCM Pocket Price Guide pegged the Quattroporte I at a #2 condition high of $17,000. By the mid-year 2011 edition, high was now at $21,300, and the 2012 Pocket Price Guide pegs it at $32,000. I think we still may be a bit off, and as I contribute to that section of the Pocket Price Guide, I’m calling myself out here.
When the Quattroporte I has been sold at auction in the past few years, a steady rise in price can be seen, with the highest sale prior to this car being the $47,100 realized for a 1966 car at an H&H sale in the U.K. during early 2010. More recently, project cars have been sold in the $17k–$20k range, which was not too long ago the precinct of the “good driver” cars.
While we’ve said this one transaction does not set the level for every Quattroporte I at $80k, it can be viewed in this manner. If you consider it an outlier in the group of sales, it functions much as the March 2011 Gooding & Company sale of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale for $154k did — a harbinger of things to come.
So, it’s fair to say that the entry price for a very good Quattroporte has certainly risen in the past three years — and shows signs of confidence. It’s nothing less than these elegant and capable cars deserve. While this car is a market high in an un-lovely color, this may well be considered well bought in a short time.
(Vehicle description courtesy of Bonhams.)