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.”