The story behind Richard Hammond’s 1988 Maserati 430 from The Grand Tour

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When Episode 11 of The Grand Tour became available to stream late last week, a Frenchman by the name of Maxime Joly no doubt sat up straight in his chair as Richard’s 1988 Maserati 430 rolled into frame. Because as it happens, the car in question was one which he was very familiar with – and through the wonders of translation we’re able to reveal the dark blue 430’s backstory in English, and how it ended up being the star on the world’s biggest motoring show.

You see, Maxime was the car’s previous owner, and back in 2013 he wrote an article about the recently restored vehicle. It was this very article which brought the 430 to the attention of one of The Grand Tour’s researchers in November 2015, who promptly got in touch and put forward an offer to purchase the vehicle. This must have come as quite a surprise, considering it wasn’t even up for sale at the time.

“I was contacted by an Englishman who had seen the article I wrote on my 430 on an English site well known in the world of Maserati,” Maxime said. “I told him I still own it but it was not for sale.” Despite this, Maxime eventually decided to hear them out – and a rather late 9pm appointment was made to view the car in a local car park.

“Not knowing what to expect, I asked a friend to accompany me,” Maxime reveals. “Two people arrived – the buyer and a French speaking woman acting as an interpreter. The buyer told me he was specifically looking for a Maserati Biturbo with the 2.8-litre twin turbo V6. Of course, this is the best choice on the Biturbo range because the injection engine is reliable and it has a limited-slip differential as standard.”

“I repeated to them that the car was not necessarily for sale and that I didn’t want to sell it to someone who was going to massacre it, considering I’d just finished the restoration. The buyer assured me that he would take good care of the car, and considering I needed cash to publish I book I’d been writing, I reluctantly accepted the offer. The selling price was average for a Biturbo sedan requiring paint work.” – Maxime Joly

Maxime goes on to confirm that not once did the buyer or the interpreter mention that they were purchasing the vehicle on behalf of Amazon or The Grand Tour – and that it was only in June 2016 that he suspected something was going on – after receiving two phone calls from the United States requesting the certificate of transfer for the vehicle.

“After seeing the first teaser trailer for The Grand Tour, I had a hunch that the blue 430 was probably mine due to several details of interior and exterior that I recognised,” Maxime says. “And after reading several press articles in the coming months, I learnt that the filming took place in December 2016 – just days after I handed over the keys to the car.”

During Episode 11 of The Grand Tour, Hammond revealed that he “loved his 430” and although it was thrown about quite a bit during the show, it was the only car of the three which survived.

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