The first Maserati Mexico, chassis AM112.001, was sent to Pietro Frua’s coachbuilding firm in 1966 to be clothed in experimental coachwork to determine the look of Maserati’s forthcoming limited-production GT. Destined to become one of three prototypes commissioned (one Frua, one Bertone and one Vignale), the Mexico Speciale presented here exhibits the delightful details and design cues typical of Maserati cars bodied by one of the company’s oldest collaborators.
The elegant Speciale features headlights recessed into chrome-accents in the front fenders, similar to those of the Mistral, a graceful greenhouse and gently sweeping upper lines comparable to the Frua-bodied 5000 GT. When compared with the other two designs offered, Frua’s is certainly the most harmonious, not only as a distinct design, but also with regards to the Maserati line as a whole. Nonetheless, Maserati selected Vignale’s proposal, some say because of the extra rear headroom, and approximately 250 production Mexicos of all types were built over the course of three years.
Eventually, the Frua prototype was exported from Italy through custom car designer and occasional broker Tom Meade. It has been reported that the Mexico Speciale was sold to Kenny Wagner of Texas, in whose hands the car remained until 1978. Mr. Wagner sold the Mexico to Larry Maese, who in turn sold it to Frank Mandarano two years later. Mr. Mandarano, a first-rank Maserati enthusiast and founder of Concorso Italiano, must have truly cherished his time with the one-off Mexico, as it was not until 1999 that the unique gran turismo was sold to Alfredo Brenner who was, at the time, assembling a comprehensive collection of coachbuilt Maseratis. While in Mr. Brenner’s distinguished collection, the Mexico Speciale was consistently maintained by specialists and kept in excellent running order. In 2003, the Mexico was proudly displayed at Concorso Italiano alongside a number of coachbuilt Maseratis ranging from the earliest A6Gs to the most exclusive 5000GTs. Soon after, the Speciale was purchased by a renowned collector with a keen interest in distinctive one-off motorcars.
At their Scottsdale Auction in 2010, Gooding & Co. sold the Frua Speciale and said “Please note that this car has been in static storage for several years and will require mechanical sorting to make it entirely roadworthy. Also, please note that the engine is now believed to be a 4.2 liter.” With an estimate of $75,000 – $100,000 USD it sold for $170,000 USD.