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Maserati 4000 GTI Sebring in the driving report: Michelotti's masterpiece

Hardy Mutschler
Maserati 4000 GTI Sebring in the driving report
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Allora, it's no secret that Italy has the finest pasta dishes, the spiciest espresso and the most fascinating sports cars gives. The latter thrive particularly well in the Modena area. The splendid specimens maturing there enjoy a high reputation in specialist circles - especially if they come from a traditional house such as M aserati originate.

Maserati - the trident in the name of motorsport

The brand, founded in 1914, was initially primarily dedicated to motorsport, and soon glorious victories shaped the image of the trident - what turned out to be should prove to be a brilliant basis for the construction of street sports cars. This business really got going with the 3500 GT presented in 1957, which enriched the Dolce Vita of the jet set of that time as a coupé and from 1959 also as a Spyder.

Another thoroughbred from the Maserati stable went into series production at the end of 1963. This 2 + 2-seater 3500 GTI received the type designation Sebring. This was a clever bridge to the brand's motorsport history, as Maserati had achieved a great victory on the racetrack of the same name in 1957. Nevertheless, the Sebring aroused far less at that time Tempers than his predecessor. And unfortunately it did not get the attention it deserved in the contemporary German press. Even today, it is not exactly one of the most popular Maserati models.

Michelotti's dreamy coupé is a chaos of emotions

The coupé drawn by Michelotti and realized by Vignale is still a case for connoisseurs and lovers of understatement. Because the Sebring does not advertise with a pronounced front structure and buxom curves to attract the viewer like many Italian film divas of that era. The simple elegance of its body with the filigree roof structure and the high, continuous belt line only beguiles many at second glance, but then there are a lot of emotion and amore involved. 'Before I got in the car, I always took a step back to admire it because it is a beauty,' admitted the British journalist John Bolster in 1963 in Autosport. But not just the visual appearancedes Sebring deserves a compliment.

If you get to know the car better, you will soon discover further qualities. And he realizes very quickly that it is very easy to befriend him. The mere fact that he does not require any acrobatic exercises from the passengers when boarding and that he provides two dresser leather seats makes him likeable.

Anyone sitting in the Maserati 4000 GTI Sebring feels secure

At the back, adults inevitably feel less comfortable because of the short seat and the limited legroom, but we have it here eventually to do with a 2 + 2. The sitting position in the front seats looks quite low because of the high belt line, which on the other hand gives a feeling of security. The wonderful, three-spoke wooden valance, the neat Smiths instrument collection and the seven neatly lined up, filigree toggle switches, which almost challenge the driver's instinct to play, make it clear that this is not a sober motor vehicle, but rather a luxury item.

The tamed heart of the Tipo 350 S beats in the Maserati 4000 GTI Sebring

The drive source also fits perfectly into this picture . The in-line six-cylinder is a tamed version of the Tipo 350 S racing car - a work of art made of light metal with two overhead camshafts driven by a triple chain, a crankshaft with seven bearings and hemispherical combustion chambers.

Not to forget the mixture preparation. 'Giulio Alfieri, the development engineer at Maserati, has succeeded in introducing gasoline injection as standard equipment on the Maserati car,' says a German press release from March 1964. The reason for this modification, which was already introduced in the 3500 GT, is included in the delivery - 'more power and less consumption'.

The 235 hp Maserati can be driven with less than ten liters consumption

Rolf Deichmann from the German can do the latter Maserati Club just confirm. His Sebring of the first series is content with less than ten liters per 100 kilometers on long journeys at a steady speed - a surprising value even for a car with 3.5 liters displacement and 235 hp. And the proof that, contrary to prophecies of doom, Lucas petrol injection is not a 'grande catastrofe' if it works.

The Sebring, which the Swiss Oldtimer Gallery Toffen made available to the Motor Klassiker, is one of the few that has been equipped with a four-liter engine. Like the 3.7-liter version, this was reserved for the second series of the chic coupé. The 255 hp double igniter doesn't take long and comes to life after a brief turn of the key.

The Maserati-Reihensechser offers musical delight

As with the 3.5-liter, which is often referred to as a robust farmer's engine, there is neither a hotter hiss nor a malicious roar at first. It is more of a good-natured and soothing hum that sounds from the engine room when the engine is idling. Fortunately, however, the Kraftwerk recollects its class as the speed increases and then delivers a concert that far outshines the hits of Adriano Celentano at the time.

This musical delight is accompanied by a spirited acceleration. If you want to, you can reach 100 km /h in a little more than seven seconds, but sprint orgies like this, gorging on material, do not fit the character of this car. 'The elasticity of the engine in this powerful car with excellent acceleration is surprising,' said the press release at the time. That hits the bull's eye. Of the around 370 Nm that occur at 4,000 rpm, a large part also seems to be available in other speed ranges, and the Sebring is correspondingly impressive.

Regardless of which gear is currently engaged - a gentle step on the accelerator is all it takes to noticeably gain speed. Accelerating out of low speed is reminiscent of the start of a jet, the thrust of which becomes more and more noticeable with increasing speed. Cross-country trips are extremely effortless and quick with these power reserves. Reaching the delicate, but much more powerful than a grissini dimensioned gear lever is rarely necessary.

The Maserati 4000 GTI Sebring only requires Wetness, increased attention

This saves the driver's strength, because the clutch is relatively stiff. The five forward gears of the ZF transmission can only be engaged with force. The ride comfort is astonishingly good despite the rigid rear axle, and the handling received a lot of praise at the time. The Sebring remains neutral for a long time in corners, until it finally pushes the rear outwards. It only requires special attention when it is wet.

Since it is based on the chassis of the Vignale Spyder, it has a wheelbase ten centimeters shorter than the 3500 GT Coupé. And so it looks a bit more manoeuvrable than this in combination with the smaller body dimensions. But his domain is fast travel on well-developed roads. Back then, anyone who drove on the Autostrada after an early breakfast in Naples could have lunch in Milan. Our exit is shorter, but still impressive. A passer-by comments on the parking Sebring with the Italian magic formula: 'Bella macchina'. The short answer: 'Si'.


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