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Love and Rockets

    Maserati’s 100th anniversary is a milestone for the marque and its most passionate collectors.

    So this is lidia,” Doug Magnon says, waving his arm at a silver Maserati in the center of the showroom that holds dozens of his cars. Lidia is a 1963 3500 GTI, the first Maserati that Magnon ever bought and one of the 30 he now owns. Lidia represents everything he loves about Maserati, from the grace of its engineering, to the power of its engine, to the personal touch of the autoworker who cared so deeply about the car, he emblazoned it with L-I-D-I-A—his girlfriend’s name, Magnon likes to think.

    That name sat unread in the undercarriage for at least 45 years until Magnon bought the GTI in 1995, drove it home, and eventually started restoring it. He found the letters welded beneath the driver’s-side door. “It really inspired me that each one has its own character, own reason in history for being,” Magnon says. “All the people who were involved in the cars put their heart and soul into it.” Now Magnon does too—into Lidia and into a collection of Maseratis that has grown to be the largest in the country, with one of each production car ever brought to the United States.

    Maserati turns 100 this year, and with that anniversary has come a renewed interest in the iconic Italian automaker. It will be a featured marque at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August, and the company plans events around the world to celebrate the milestone. Magnon and other collectors welcome the chance to show what makes a car that has long lived in the shadow of Lamborghini and  Ferrari so special. In fact, one of Magnon’s cars, a 1951 A6G 2000 by Pininfarina, is in the Pebble Beach competition. 

    “The auction companies are certainly geared up for it at Monterey. We are on a very conscious level,” Don Rose of RM Auctions says of the Maseratis on offer at sales surrounding the Pebble Beach Concours. RM’s top lots on August 13 to 15 will include a 1963 Maserati 5000 GT with coachwork by Frua ($2.2 million to $2.9 million) and a 1959 3500 GT Spyder prototype by Vignale ($1.1 million to $1.5 million). “We have sought out some of the rarest and most precious models—some prototypes and special one-off, coachbuilt cars—in anticipation of a surge at Monterey.” 

    Maserati is rolling off of a series of strong showings. At the Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza in Italy in May, a 1956 Maserati 450S owned by the Swiss collector Albert Spiess won best in show. Last year, a 1955 300S Sports-Racing Spyder sold for $6.8 million, a record for the marque. “They’ve been thought of as undervalued for a long time compared to Ferrari, which has become sort of the gold standard of this appreciating market,” Rose says. “The question was, until recently, are Maseratis going to be perennially undervalued, or are they going to have their day in the sun? They are clearly now having their day in the sun.”

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