Historic Car Brands
There were originally six Maserati brothers – Alfieri, Bindo, Carlo, Ettore, Ernesto and Marco – and all were involved with automobiles from the beginning of the 20th Century. Marco became an artist and Carlo died in 1910. Alfieri and Bindo went to work for Isotta-Fraschini and then Alfieri opened a motor garage in 1914. Ettore, Bindo and Ernesto joined him.
1934 Bologna Maserati brothers – Ferruccio Testi
The boys made spark plugs during World War I and when hostilities ceased, Ernesto started racing an aero-engine special and then the brothers started making two-litre Grand Prix cars for Diatto.
In 1926, Diatto suspended the production of race cars, so the brothers took over that stable, downsizing the engines to 1.5 litres and leading to the creation of the first Maserati and the founding of the Maserati marque.
The trident logo of the Maserati car company, designed by Marco Maserati, was based on the Fountain of Neptune in Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore.
One of the first Maseratis, driven by Alfieri, won the 1926 Targa Florio. During the 1930s, Maserati manufactured racing cars with four, six and eight cylinders, with displacements that ranged from one litre up to five litres.
They even produced a 16-cylinder – sedici cylindri – race engine, formed by mounting two straight-eights parallel to each other on a common crankcase and made one road-going version.
1930 Maserati Sport 2000 eight-cylinder 155hp – Alf van Beem
Alfieri died in 1932 and that led to a 1937 takeover by the Orsi family, who moved the Maserati factory to Modena. The remaning brothers stayed on, until 1947, when they left and formed OSCA.
Maserati 8CL – Tony Hisgett
Racing successes continued, even against the giants of German racing, Auto Union and Mercedes. An 8CTF won the Indianapolis 500, making Maserati the only Italian manufacturer ever to do so.
During Word War II, Maserati produced military equipment for the Italian war effort.
1947 Maserati A6 – Herr Anders Svensson
The Maserati brothers’ parting gift to Maserati was the A6G sports car that was derived from the racing version.
1956 Maserati A6G Berlinetta Zagato Coupe – Rex Gray
After the War, racing cars were Maserati’s mainstay and Colombo’s 250F masterpiece was one of the most successful GP cars of all time, driven by greats that included Fangio, Moss and Hawthorn.
Fangio Maserati 250F
Successful sports racing cars in the 1950s were the 200S, 300S, 350S, and 450S, followed in 1961 by the famous Tipo 61, 62 and 63 ‘Birdcage’ racers that were so-named because of their complex, multi-tube space-frame construction.
Maserati 300S – Asopuma
Maserati retired from factory racing participation because of the Guidizzolo tragedy that occurred during the 1957 Mille Miglia. Portago’s Ferrari crashed, killing him and his co-driver, as well as 12 spectators.
Maserati T61 engine bay – John Chapman
Although it continued to build racing cars for privateers, Maserati became more focussed on building road-going grand tourers.
The year 1957 marked a turning point in the marque’s history. Chief engineer Giulio Alfieri took charge of a project to turn the 3.5-litre in-line, six-cylinder racing engine from the 350S into a road-going engine, to power the 3500 GT.
1960 Maserati 3500 GT coupe – Rex Gray
This car was Maserati’s first ground-up grand tourer design and its first series-produced car. Factory output jumped from a dozen to a few hundred cars a year.
1956 Maserati six-cylinder engine – Rex Gray
Launched with a Carrozzeria Touring, 2+2 coupé, aluminium body over superleggera (super-light) structure, that model was followed by a steel-bodied, short wheelbase Vignale 3500 GT Convertible version in 1960.
Maserati 3500 GTI – Snowdog
The 3500 GT’s success, with more than 2200 made, was critical to Maserati’s survival in the years following its withdrawal from racing.
The 3500 GT also provided the underpinnings for the small-volume V8-engined 5000 GT, another seminal car for Maserati.
1959 Maserati 5000 GT Allemano – Michelin
The Shah of Persia requested a road car, powered by the Maserati 450S racing engine, so the very pricey 5000 GT was born. Thirty-four of these vehicles were made, but nearly all were powered by Maserati’s first road-going V8 engine design.
1967 Maserati Mistral Coupe – Rex Gray
In 1962, the 3500 GT evolved into the Sebring, bodied by Vignale and based on the convertible chassis. Next came the two-seater Mistral coupé in 1963 and Spider in 1964, both powered by a six-cylinder engine and styled by Pietro Frua.
Maserati V8 4.2l engine – Tennen Gas
In 1963, the Quattroporte, the company’s first saloon was launched, also styled by Frua. Just as the 5000 GT concept resulted in the marque’s first road-going V8, the Quattroporte’s Tipo 107 4.2-litre DOHC V8 was the forerunner of all Maserati V8s until 1990.
Maserati Ghibli – Pyntofmyld
The Ghia-designed Ghibli coupé was launched in 1967, powered by a 4.7-litre, dry-sump version of Maserati’s quad-cam V8. The Ghibli Spyder and high performance 4.9-litre Ghibli SS followed.
In 1968, Maserati was taken over by Citroën and Maserati’s first task was to come up with an engine to power Citroën’s upcoming flagship, called the SM.
SM C114-03 Maserati Engine
Launched in 1970, the SM was a four-seat, front-wheel-drive coupé, powered by a Maserati Tipo C114, 2.7-litre, 90-degree, V6 engine. This engine also powered rally-prepared Citroen DSs.
1973 Maserati Indy – Rex Gray
The first new Maserati under Citroen’s influence was the 1969 Indy, Vignale-bodied four-seater GT, with a traditional V8 drivetrain.
Maserati Bora – Nakhon 100
In 1971, the Bora was the company’s first series production mid-engined model, altering Maserati’s reputation for producing fast but technologically out of date cars. Apart from the mid-engine position the Bora also boasted all-independent suspension.
In 1972, the Bora was transformed to the Merak, now employing a Tipo 114, SM-derived, V6 enlarged to 3.0-litres.
Maserati developed the Quattroporte II (Four-door II) that shared most of its mechanical parts with the SM, including the V6-engine, front-wheel-drive layout. It was a slug, in Maserati terms, so a V8 replacement engine was planned, but never executed beyond prototype testing. Only a dozen Quattroporte IIs were sold, all with the V6.
The replacement for the successful Ghibli was the Bertone-designed Khamsin, a front-engine grand tourer introduced in 1972 and produced until 1974, combining the traditional Maserati V8 GT layout with modern independent suspension, unibody construction, and refined Citroën technologies such as DIRAVI power steering.
In 1974, with the 1973–75 recession at its climax, things took a turn for the worse. Citroën went bankrupt and its incorporation into PSA Peugeot Citroën began. In May 1975, a press release from Citroën management abruptly announced Maserati had been put into liquidation.
A rescuer appeared in the form of car-maker and ex-racing driver, Alejandro de Tomaso.
Maserati Kyalami Cabriolet – Reinhold Moller
Beginning in 1976, new models were introduced, sharing their underpinnings, but not their engines, with De Tomaso cars. First came the Kyalami grand tourer, derived from the De Tomaso Longchamp, restyled by Frua and powered by Maserati’s own V8.
Following the Kyalami was the Giugiaro-designed Quattroporte III, based on the De Tomaso Deauville, which was introduced in 1976 and put on sale in 1979.
Maserati Bora sales dwindled; the Khamsin was discontinued in 1983 and, progressively stripped of its Citroën-derived parts, the Merak continued to sell over one hundred units a year, until 1982.
1985 Maserati Biturbo E – Mr Choppers
The 1980s saw Maserati identified by its compact front-engine, rear-drive coupé, the Biturbo and the glory days of grand touring seemed behind it.
The best feature of the Biturbo was its twin-turbocharged V6 engine that owed its origins to the 90° V6 engineered by Guilio Alfieri, whom de Tomaso dismissed on day one of his takeover. All new Maseratis launched in the 1980s were based on the Biturbo platform.
The Biturbo family mightn’t have been traditional Maserati, but sold to 40,000 customers. Maserati was in the series-production business.
In 1983 and 1984, the range was extended to include the 425 and 420 saloons and a short wheelbase, Zagato-bodied cabriolet.
In the background, Chrysler bought a small share in Maserati, which produced a car for export to the American market: the Chrysler TC by Maserati, with Chrysler-sourced engines.
New Biturbo-based evolutions were launched during the 1980s, including the 228 large coupé in 1984, with a new 2.8-litre version of the twin-turbocharged V6; the 430 top-shelf saloon and the Karif, two-seater, based on the short wheelbase Spyder chassis 1988.
The Quattroporte III was updated and became the luxurious Royale, built to order in small numbers and its discontinuation in 1990 marked the disappearance of Maserati’s original four-cam V8 engine.
Maserati Shamal – Marco 56
In 1989 came an eight-cylinder grand tourer, the Shamal, built on a modified, short wheelbase Biturbo chassis and clad in new bodywork styled by Marcello Gandini. It was powered by an all-new, twin-turbocharged, 32-valve V8 engine paired to a six-speed gearbox. Two-litre, 24-valve V6 engines were also added to the Shamal range.
In December 1989, Fiat entered Maserati’s history. The still-registered Maserati SpA company became 49-percent Fiat-owned and 51-percent was controlled by De Tomaso.
1995 Maserati Ghibli – Dogs-barking-duster-rolling
The Ghibli II was introduced in 1992. It was a six-cylinder coupé, with modified Biturbo underpinnings covered by new Gandini bodywork and powered by the latest evolution of the 24-valve, twin-turbocharged V6.
The Maserati Barchetta Corsa, a small open-top, mid-engined sports car inspired a one-make racing series in 1992 and 1993, but only 17 cars were produced.
Between 1992 and 1994, all models except the Ghibli and Shamal were progressively discontinued.
In 1993, 17 years after having rescued it from liquidation, Alejandro De Tomaso sold his stake in Maserati to Fiat.
Maserati Quattroporte – Nakhon 100
In 1994, the aging Quattroporte III/Royale was replaced by the Quattroporte IV – based, of course, on Biturbo underpinnings.
In July 1997, Fiat sold a 50-percent share in the company to Maserati’s long-time arch-rival Ferrari that was itself owned by Fiat. Purists who could remember the Ferrari-Maserati tussles of the 1950s, in GP and sports car racing, were horrified.
Maserati 3200 GT – Alexandre Prevot
An improved Quattroporte Evoluzione was introduced at the 1998 Geneva Motor Show the 3200 GT was launched.This two-door coupé was powered by a 3.2-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 derived from the Shamal engine and rated at 370hp.
In 1999, Ferrari took full control, making Maserati its luxury division and the last links to the de Tomaso era were cut in 2002, when the 3200 GT was replaced by the Maserati Coupé and Spyder. These cars used an all-new, naturally aspirated, dry-sump, 4.2-litre V8, with a transaxle gearbox. In turn, the Coupé and Spyder were replaced by the GranTurismo and GranCabrio.
The Maserati and Alfa Romeo Group, under Fiat Group, started in 2005, when Maserati was split off from Ferrari. On 9 June 2005, the 20,000th Maserati, a Quattroporte V, left the factory.
In the second quarter of 2007, Maserati made a profit for the first time in its 17 years under Fiat ownership. The Maserati story continues…