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5 Litri Frua Prototipo
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  Maserati 5 Litri Frua Prototipo
 

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1968
Numbers built:One-Off
Introduced at:1968 Geneva Motor Show
Internal name:AM 112/1
Designed by:Frua
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:February 11, 2015
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn 1965, Vignale was commissioned by a South African client to create a two-door, four-seater Maserati powered by the V8 engine of the 5000 GT, which was out of production by then. Launched at the 1965 Turin Motor Show, the design evolved over the following year and at the 1966 Paris Motor Show a series production version was revealed, again styled by Vignale. The new 2+2 Maserati was dubbed the Mexico, reportedly to celebrate John Surtees victory in the 1966 Mexican Grand Prix with a Maserati-engined Cooper.

The Mexico was built around a semi-monocoque chassis, which combined a load bearing body with a separate front subframe onto which the engine and suspension was bolted. Like its predecessor, the new 2+2 Maserati featured double-wishbone front suspension and a live rear axle, while disc brakes were fitted on all four corners. At the time of the launch, the Mexico was offered with traditional wire wheels but these were replaced by alloy examples from 1970 onwards. A five-speed manual gearbox was fitted as standard and a Borg Warner, three-speed automatic was an option.

At the 1965 Turin Motor Show, it was suggested that the Vignale show car was fitted with the 5-litre V8 from the 5000 GT. By the time the Mexico entered production, it was available with the same choice of two V8 engines also available in the four-door Quattroporte. The smaller of the pair displaced just under 4.2 litres and produced between 260 and 290 bhp. Courtesy of a slightly larger bore, the second V8 displaced 4.7 litres and was good for in excess of 300 bhp. Derived from Maserati's mighty competition V8s, the engines featured twin overhead camshafts and four Weber carburettors.

For the production Mexico, Vignale refined the design of the 1965 show car. It still featured twin headlights and an airy cockpit large enough to seat four people in some comfort. In fact, the roof was slightly extended to offer the occupants in the rear seats a little more headroom. With the introduction of the alloy wheels in 1970, subtle changes were also made to the exterior design. In addition to the Vignale bodied production cars, at least three examples were also finished by Frua as show cars. Although generally considered the prototype for the Indy, it is understood that the one-off Simun by Ghia also shares its underpinnings with the Mexico.

Maserati produced the Mexico through to 1972, by which time around 485 examples were built. Of these, 305 were powered by the 4.2-litre engine and of the remaining 180 or so at least one used a 4.9-litre engine and the rest featured the 4.7-litre engine.

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