Liz Taylor was a brilliant actor. If you’ve not seen her performances in Giant, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Suddenly Last Summer, and especially Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, there is a cavity in your cinematic history that needs immediate filling. But she is perhaps equally, if unfairly, famous for her marriages, not only their sheer number—which totals eight—but their tempestuousness and transience. Her union with Michael Todd, husband number three, lasted eleven months. Her second marriage to Richard Burton, husband number five and six, just ten. And her first, to abusive alcoholic hotelier Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, was fortunately over in just eight. Months, that is.
But Liz’s shortest relationship came about during one of her longer periods of wedded bliss, during her five-year nuptials with famed mid-century crooner Eddie Fisher. But this connection wasn’t with a man. It was with a car.
Fisher ditched his wife Debbie Reynolds (and his daughter Carrie Fisher) for Taylor on the heels of their hot affair in the late Fifties. According to the 1995 biography, Liz, in 1961, just a few years into their tumultuous alliance, they were living together in Italy. To celebrate his birthday that August, Liz bought Fisher an olive green Rolls-Royce, the second Rolls she’d purchased for him. He attempted to return the favor at Christmas by gifting her a brand new, gold 1962 Maserati 3500 GT, an elegant straight-six-powered grand tourer and arguably one of most gorgeous cars the brand ever built.
Liz immediately took the coupe for a test drive. But she returned to their villa just fifteen minutes later, tossed the keys back at Eddie and told him that she hated the way the car drove. (Apocryphal stories suggest that she claimed that she’d rather have a horse. This is not, as far as we can tell, a veiled Ferrari reference.) Fisher got rid of the Maserati, selling it to fellow actor, and known automotive enthusiast, Anthony Quinn, who shipped the GT back to his home in Beverly Hills, where it likely shared a garage bay with Quinn’s Facel Vega. (Swoon. In this story, we may be most jealous of Quinn.)
The 3500 GT exchanged hands subsequent to that. But when the current owner, a marque enthusiast with an extensive collection of Maseratis, discovered its Hollywood history, via extensive available documentation, he treated it to a concours quality restoration. Now, this very car will be for sale, at Gooding & Company’s flagship Pebble Beach auction in August, along with three other stunning seven-figure Mid-Century Maseratis from the same collector—a cloud-grey 1961 5000 GT Indianapolis Coupe (one of 34 built), an outrageous peacock green Vignale-bodied 1960 3500 GT Spider, and one of the trident brand’s first true production vehicles a sky-blue 1948 A6/1500 Coupe.
Celebrity provenance can add value to the price of a vehicle, and Gooding certainly seems to believe that Liz’s ownership, even just fifteen minutes of it, may up the hammer of this 3500 GT. Our friends at Hagerty, experts in classic car valuation, suggest that a top-notch concours quality 1962 3500 GT should run just shy of $300,000. Gooding has another similar coupe, a lovely 1960 3500 GT, in their Pebble cache that is estimated to bring in right about that amount. The Taylor/Fisher/Quinn car, however, is pegged at between $400,000 and $500,000.
Bidders will pay extra for a celebrity car, because it offers them the opportunity to connect with that person, to bask in their reflected glory, even from the grave. If we had the spare change, we’d pay extra for Liz Taylor’s car—especially with an auric gleam like this one. We’ll be attending the Gooding auction in Monterey this summer, reporting on all of record sales likely to occur there. We’ll be interested to see what premium the larger market places on the touch of her jeweled hands.