16-17 August 2013

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Lot 219

1956 Maserati A6G/2000 Spyder by Frua

  • Chassis no. 2190
  • Engine no. 2190

Sold for $2,530,000

150 bhp, 1,985 cc double overhead-cam twin-plug inline six-cylinder engine with three Weber 40 DC03 carburetors, five-speed manual transmission, double wishbone front suspension with coil springs and anti-roll bar, live axle rear suspension with quarter-elliptic leaf springs and anti-roll bar, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 100.4 in.

  • The only A6G Frua Spyder with side exhaust
  • Best Maserati at Concorso Italiano in 2003
  • Two-time Colorado Grand participant

If art is long and life is short, as the Greek philosophers told us, then it is fitting that the vast majority of Pietro Frua’s creations have outlasted his four-decade career as one of Italy’s most renowned coachbuilders. Delightfully diverse in a way that few designers ever are, Frua laid out automobile bodies that were both calm and outrageous, curved and crisp, and stately and sensual. He dressed everything from Ferraris to Rolls-Royces, with the only common cue between his designs being an eye for proportion and a flair for the dramatic, which, ranging from car to car, could be pronounced or delicate.

The spyder bodies Frua designed for the Maserati A6G chassis rank among his loveliest creations. Depending upon the angle from which they are viewed, they appear either crisply tailored or boldly muscular, with subtle creases through the flanks setting off slightly kicked up rear fenders and rounded body sides that seem to flow down and tuck under the chassis. Small bumperettes in the front and rear give the impression of sporty lightness, opening up the deeply scooped grille and cupping the famed Maserati trident. In many ways, the design resembles the famed AC Ace and Shelby Cobra, which it happened to predate it. One has to wonder who inspired whom.

It is believed that three of these Spyders were built, of which one was fitted to A6GCS chassis 2054 and delivered to dealer Guglielmo Dei, of Rome, who delivered it to an American client in early 1954. Importantly, this was the only Frua Spyder mounted to a genuine A6GCS car; the other two were mounted on A6GCS chassis, but they were engineered with the more street-friendly A6G/54 engine. The car was fitted out with a striking chromed side exhaust, emerging like a dragon’s tongue from behind the front wheels and becoming a flicker of silver down the body on the driver’s side. Reminiscent of earlier Maserati racing cars, it added an additional element of drama to the design, the sort of touch that made Frua bodies stand out from the crowd, and it continues to do so today. As a testament to its beauty, chassis 2054 was pictured in Richard Crump and Rob Box’s Maserati Road Cars, with a note stating that “these spyders were most attractive.”

The consignor of this car found the original Frua Spyder body from chassis 2054 in the ownership of noted Maserati enthusiast and Concorso Italiano founder Francis Mandarano, who had acquired it in the American South some time earlier. While the original chassis was long gone—it was converted into a racing car—the body was immaculately complete, aside from a single missing bumper bar, retaining all of its original jewelry-like details, including the original “pFrua” badges, the original instruments, all the door hardware, and unaltered curvaceous lines. In the owner’s words, “I thought of buying it as a somewhat charitable deed: saving from oblivion a beautiful object that would be a shame to let go.”

Accordingly, the body was mounted upon an original A6G/2000 chassis, number 2190, and reportedly fitted from new with an A6GCS engine, which had been restored by Italian automobile expert Nino Epifani, of Berkeley, California; it had its chassis frame shortened appropriately. The bulk of the restoration was completed by renowned specialist Wayne Obry’s Motion Products, of Neenah, Wisconsin, with the goal being to return the car to as near as possible as 2054 had first been when delivered in 1953.

Obry’s hard work resulted in glass-like light silver-blue paint, a crisply tailored blue leather interior with royal blue carpets, and deep chrome; the dashboard is elegant in its smooth simplicity, with clear, easy-to-read Jaeger instruments, ideal for the sporting driver. The car recalls the best of the coachbuilt classics and the bare, elemental fury of the 1950s sporting barchetta at the same glorious time.

This spectacular finish earned the prestigious honors of Best Maserati at the 2003 Concorso Italiano, one of the world’s foremost gatherings of important Italian automobiles. The Maserati appeared again at the concours d’elegance at the Cavallino Classic XIV in Palm Beach in 2005.

Given its connoisseur-owner’s philosophy that cars are best admired not only when standing on a show field, but also when moving against the various backdrops provided by nature, the car has completed two Colorado Grands, as well as the California Mille, performing effortlessly. The owner describes it as “an excellent and spirited driving car.” To better suit modern rallying purposes, a five-speed manual transmission from an Alfa Romeo was installed; the owner retains the Maserati transmission correct to this chassis and will supply it to the new owner upon request. Accompanying the car are photocopies of photographs of chassis 2054 as original, photos of the body as-found, and correspondence with the previous owner, testifying to its remarkably complete and intact condition, as well as historical information relating to this car and model.

French philosopher Simone Weil wrote that “art is the symbol of the two noblest human efforts: to construct and to refrain from destruction.” The coachwork that Pietro Frua created, as one of the masters of the Italian carrozzeria, stood as artful as anything else on wheels during the golden age of the European sports car. Here is one of the finest examples of his functional fine art to have survived; it is presented, through careful preservation and restoration that saved it from destruction, with all the beauty in motion that it possessed in 1953.


Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more