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Revival of the Fittest: Culling the Classics

Fluto Shinzawa

The 1965 Maserati Quattroporte sat unnoticed by everyone at a California classic car show in 1978. Everyone except Oscar Crovetto. "Nobody knew what it was," Crovetto recalls. "I felt sorry for this animal. I had to buy it."
Crovetto, who spent $4,800 on the car, recalls chatting with two former Maserati employees at another auto show in 1982 four years after his purchase. He told them about his Quattroporte and inquired about the meaning of an aluminum badge with the number 2 that he had discovered in front of the car’s radiator. The stamp puzzled him, because the car’s chassis number was 34, or the 17th 1965 QP off the line (Maserati used only even numbers).

One of the former Maserati men, a gentle-man in his 60s, asked Crovetto for a screwdriver. He opened the hood, took the front cover off the engine, and scraped away grime to reveal the number 10 stamped on the block. "This is the first production car," he declared. He explained that Maserati always kept the first four engines for tests, and he surmised that the factory must have encountered problems with finishing the car, possibly with the paint or other parts. For whatever reason, production was delayed, and the first engine ended up being paired with the 17th chassis. "It’s got character," Crovetto says of his car. "There are not too many on the road. It’s something different."

Though it is unlikely anyone will encounter the same fortune as Crovetto, classic Quattroportes can still be purchased at shows, auctions, and private sales for reasonable prices. The Pietro Frua–designed QP I, a 4.2-liter, 260-hp machine released in 1963, is worth approximately $15,000. A 1974 QP II sold at RM’s Monterey Sports and Classic Car Auction in August for $53,901. Prices for the QP III, a Giorgetto Giugiaro design built from 1979 through 1986, vary from $10,000 to $15,000. The fourth-generation Quattroporte, a V-6 car produced under Fiat ownership from 1994 through 1998, was never sold in the United States.


Vintage 6 Series coupes can often be had for less than $10,000. Cars built from 1983 through 1989 are more desirable than the 1977-through-1982 6ers because BMW made improvements to the engine and suspension. The M6, a 270-hp two-door version, can be purchased for $15,000 to $20,000.

Obtaining a GT40, especially one from the Le Mans–winning years, can be a far more expensive endeavor. At RM’s Monterey auction, the high bid for a 1971 Mark III was $250,000, and the reserve was not met. A pair of 1967 GT40s sold at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction last year: a Mark I for $347,760 and a Mark III for $318,600. "There are two or three on the market in the States every year," says Miles Morris of Christie’s. "The last one I sold was a low-mileage car last year. The owner told me recently that he’s been approached for a healthy profit if he wants to sell it. It’s a true world-beating car, and that’s a very important factor in the collector car world."

 

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