Top priced car at Silverstone Auction’s May 28th Sale at Sywell Aerodrome is a 1964 Maserati Mistral Spyder that film star Diana Dors saw at the Earls Court Motor Show and bought it off the stand – one of only 14 cars produced in RHD.
As a result the estimate is £475-£550k so the highest value car in the Silverstone Auction.
This rare, UK-supplied, Mistral Spyder (one of 14) was purchased from the Maserati stand at the 1964 Earls Court Motor Show by Ms Dors. The plan was that after the show, the Spyder would become Maserati’s London demonstrator, however, Diana Dors, well known English actress and TV personality, fell in love with the Spyder and simply had to have it. Frequently described as the “English Marilyn Monroe”, she was no stranger to publicity and even notoriety featuring in the popular press as the youngest person to own a Rolls-Royce, despite the fact that she was not even old enough to drive at the time. The rare and highly desirable Mistral would undoubtedly fit in with the movie star’s high-profile lifestyle.
With the 3500 GT nearing the end of its successful run, Maserati entrusted Pietro Frua with the task of designing a new two-seater coupé, based on the Tipo109 chassis and so was born the Mistral, the first in a series of classic Maseratis to be given the name of a legendary wind and the last model from the Casa del Tridente to be equipped with a straight six-cylinder engine before Maserati moved on to V8 engines for their production cars.
Frua’s new creation, originally named the Due Posti (two seats), was first shown in a preview at the Salone Internazionale dell’Automobile di Torino in November 1963 before entering production in 1964 which continued until 1970. Seven years of production in a world where fabulous new designs from established Carozziere appeared almost annually was proof of the beauty and originality of Pietro Frua’s original design. It was at the suggestion of Col. Simone, the French Maserati Concessionaire, that the Due Posti should be renamed ‘Mistral’.
Naturally it wasn’t long before an open-top ‘Spyder’ version arrived and this made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1964 with the convertible benefiting from some further enhancement by talented young designer, Giovanni Michelotti. Spyders were predominately steel-bodied, with the bonnet, doors and boot lid in alloy and were all built by Vignale in Turin. In common with the Coupé, they were powered by the race-derived Tipo 109 straight-six, which was available in 3.5, 3.7 and 4.0-litre form as time went by. This was matched to a ZF five-speed manual gearbox and the cars also featured disc brakes and Borrani wire wheels. For the 3.7-litre cars, like the example offered here, its 160mph top speed and 0–60 time of 6.2 seconds made it a true ‘supercar’ of the era.
This Mistral Spyder, Chassis #AM109/S 035, was ordered in right-hand drive making it one of just 14 examples built to this configuration by Maserati, and was finished in Argento Auteuil (silver) paintwork with a Black Connolly leather interior and Borrani spoked wheels. It was delivered to London-based Maserati Concessionaires in the late summer of 1964 and before long was on its way to Earls Court where it would sit proudly on the Maserati Stand at the 1964 Earls Court Motor Show which opened on October 21st and ran for two weeks.
Following Dors’ ownership, the Mistral was acquired by an Australian living in London who would then go on to export the Maserati to Australia in 1976. In 1983, ownership passed to a Mr Philip Larsson and, subsequently, to the late Clive Smith of Melbourne who was well-known for his exquisite taste in Italian cars. Between 2007 and 2013, there are numerous invoices made out to then owner, Gary Higgins who went about rebuilding the engine and overhauled the braking system during his ownership. In 2015, the Mistral returned to the UK and was sold to its current owner in a sound useable state but not displaying the high standards of presentation with which he was familiar.
Renowned Maserati restorers, McGrath Maserati, carried out an inspection for the Spyder’s new owner and consequently they were entrusted to return the car to full health and beauty. Between March 2017 and November 2019, McGrath Maserati carried out a substantial amount of work on the Mistral addressing many areas of the car including the mechanicals, bodywork and interior. The results speak for themselves, and there are details in the accompanying extensive history file showing the care and expenditure this special car has enjoyed in recent years. Supplied with a tool roll, spare wheel, jack and the aforementioned extensive history file, the Maserati Classiche documentation confirming that the original chassis and engine happily remain in place.