From what we can tell, Leno stumbled across this 1962 Maserati 3500 GTi in a storage locker while on the quest for an Aston Martin DB5. The Maserati had been in storage for some 20 years and had nearly 100k miles on the clock; while it would clearly need mechanical work, the body and paint made the car worth buying, especially at $25,000.
Unless you’re Jay Leno, restoring a 50-year-old Maserati 3500 GTi can be a daunting task, as original parts came from a variety of European suppliers, including Girling (brakes), ZF (transmission), Borrani (wire wheels) and Lucas (fuel injection).
The Lucas fuel injection itself is so cumbersome to troubleshoot that most owners resort to using the triple-Weber-carburetor setup found on 3500 GT models. This increases fuel consumption and drops horsepower from 240 to 220 hp, but keeping an Italian car fitted with English fuel injection running is simply beyond the means of most owners.
The staff at Leno’s Big Dog Garage worked though the problems with the help of specialty companies to recalibrate the fuel injection and manufacture new throttle butterflies. Despite the car’s high mileage, the in-line six-cylinder engine wasn’t torn down for a rebuild as it ultimately ran strong on all six cylinders.
While Leno generally strives for authenticity, certain parts were either unavailable or not up to contemporary standards. The Maserati’s shocks, for example, are custom-built for the car by Bilstein, the plug wires are designed to filter RF interference and the oversized aluminum radiator is a one-off piece.
No one ever said that restoring a five-decade-old car was an easy task, even for Leno’s staffers, but the end result is a car that sounds great and really stands out in the crowd. Ultimately, it cost far less to purchase (and likely restore) than GT coupes from brands like Jaguar, Ferrari and Aston Martin.
We wouldn’t necessarily agree with Leno that you should buy the first Maserati 3500 that comes along, since any restoration is a complex and expensive proposition. If you’re mechanically inclined and stumble on the same kind of a deal that Leno did, however, we’d agree that you’d be foolish to let it slip away.