The story began on 1st December 1914
when the Societa Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati was set up in Bologna in what
was little more than a garage run by motoring enthusiasts who had a tradition of
superlative craftsmanship and a passion for cutting-edge engineering, a
combination that has produced the Maseratis we know today.
In the early days, the Maserati brothers merely modified the luxury Isotta
Fraschinis of the day for road racing. In fact the first true Maserati, the Tipo
26, did not emerge until 1926, when it won its class in that year's Targa Florio. A year
later Maserati won the Italian Constructors' title and Ernesto won the Italian
The rapid rise to engineering and
racing supremacy was celebrated in magnificent style in 1929 when Maserati
shattered the world speed record over 10Km with a speed of 246Km/h (153mph). The
car was the V4 powered by an amazing 280 bhp 16-cylinder 3961cc engine and
was driven by Baconin Borzacchini. The same combination racked up Maserati's
first Grand Prix victory at Tripoli a year later.
Meanwhile the Maserati operation expanded in all directions: the first Maserati
Grand Tourer with a Castagna body made its debut at the Milan Show in 1931, the
same year that Count Theo Rossi di Montelera employed a Maserati engine on his
power boat, the Montelera XII which went on to win the world water speed record,
the first of a long series of Maserati successes in the power boat sector.
On land, Maserati's
"little" cars were wining races on tracks all over Europe and the
brand was rapidly gaining a reputation for advanced engineering. Among its
innovations, the worlds first hydraulic brakes appeared on the 8C/8CM in 1933
(that was the car that Giuseppe Campari drove to victory in the French Grand
Prix and Tazio Nuvolari did the same in the Belgian and Nice Grand Prixs.) 1934
bought another world speed record (222km/h - 138mph) in the 1100cc class: the
car was the 4CM, the driver Giuseppe Furmanik.
In 1937 the Maserati brothers handed
over the financial management of their company to the Orsi family, while keeping
their hands on the engineering side. That opened the way to operations on a much
broader front, which bore fruit in two successive wins, in 1939 and 1940 in the
Indianapolis 500 (by Wilbur Smith in an 8CTF). In 1941 the Maserati was in the
lead when it was forced to retire and privately entered Maseratis finished 3rd
and 4th in 1946. That made Maserati the first (and so far the only) Italian
constructor to win the legendary American race. Meanwhile, in 1939, the firm had
moved to its now celebrated premises on Viale Ciro Menotti in Modena, where its
extraordinary creativity was deployed in the service of the Italian war effort
as it converted to the production of machine tools, electrical components, spark
plugs and even electric vehicles (a battery powered truck and van appeared at
the Milan Trade Fair in 1942). Once the war ended, Maserati got back to its
normal business, creating the A6 1500 Sport around which Pininfarina built an
elegant coupe body. The racing version was the A6GCS, a highly original
streamlined barchetta with offset engine and motorcycle - type wings separate
from the body, which Alberto Ascari drove to victory on its first outing at
But if these were the years of a Maserati revival, they also saw the arrival ofa powerful new rival in Ferrari that launched an exciting all-Italian dual on
the race tracks all over the world. In 1953 the Maserati A6GCM 2000 with Juan
Manuel Fangio at the wheel came second in the World Championship behind Alberto
Ascari in a Ferrari. 1954 saw the debut of the legendary Maserati 250F with a
2500cc 6-cylinder engine and transverse rear-mounted gearbox in unit with the
differential. This was the car that started out by winning Fangio the Argentine
Grand Prix and subsequently the World Drivers' title.
At the same time, several A6G spider
and coupe models with bodies by Frua, Allemano and Zagato came out. In 1955 an aerodynamic 250F with a wraparound body was created for the Italian
Grand Prix at Monza. In the meantime Maserati was experimenting with advanced
engineering systems like disc brakes and fuel injection. Maserati bought its
Grand Prix career to a glorious finale in 1957 at the end of a triumphant season
which started out with the first three places in Argentina and ended with
Fangio's world title in the 250F. That same year Maserati designed a 12-cylinder
2500cc engine for Formula 1 and previewed the 3500GT 2+2 seater sports coupe at
the Geneva Show. It was the start of a new ear for the Trident badge. The 3500GT
remained in production until 1964 and was responsible for introducing a whole
series of important innovations, such as twin-plug ignition systems, disc brakes
and fuel injection, to ordinary road cars. Even the departure of the official
Maserati team from racing did not end the firms interest in motor sport and in
1958 it launched the Tipo 60-61, nicknamed the "Birdcage" after its
revolutionary chassis that was constructed out of a trellis of slender tubes.
When a special 500 mile invitation race was organized on the Monza high speed
track for Indy specialists, Maserati was there with a special car (the Maserati
Eldorado) with a V8 engine driven by Stirling Moss.
The same engine, in different
capacities and states of tune, also appeared on the 450S powerboat that ruled
the waves in its day and also powered the prestigious 5000GT with Touring body
that was created for the Shah of Persia and appeared at the Turin Show in 1959.
In the sixties, Maserati expanded its GT operations as the Sebring (the final
development of the 1962 3500GT) was followed by the Mistral in 1963 and the
luxurious Quattroporte, which made its name as the fastest saloon in the world.
However, while officially retired from racing, Maserati had not stopped
engineering racing cars, which included special berlinetta models for the Le
Mans 24 Hours (the 151 of 1962), the sport Tipo 65 with its rear mounted engine
and the highly original transverse V12 engine it created for the formula 1 1500.
In 1966, the Ghilbli coupe, the first Maserati entirely designed by Giorgetto
Giugiaro, went into production and a new 3-litre 12 cylinder Formula 1 engine
was developed. In the first year of the new formula, the Cooper-Maserati driven
by John Surtees won the Mexican Grand Prix, as well as taking second and third
places in the World Championship.
In 1968, Maserati turned out a
record 733 cars and acquired a new shareholder in CitroŽn.
That same year, it launched the Indy 2+2 coupe and started production of the new
V6 engine that was to power the revolutionary CitroŽn SM which went into
production in 1970.
At the 1971 Geneva Show, Maserati launched the Bora, a two-seater, mid-engined
Grand Tourer and then a year later, the Merak 2+2 seater utilising the V6
engine first seen in the CitroŽn SM. The SM won the Moroccan Rally, giving
Maserati its first ever rallying success.
In 1975 the effects of the oil crisis forced CitroŽn to draw in its horns which
meant abandoning Maserati, which was sold to Alejandro De Tomaso's GEPI. Under
its new management, the firm produced a 2000cc version of the Merak and in 1976
it launched a new version of the Quattroporte which went on to become the best
selling Maserati of all time and the car used by successive Italian presidents
on official occasions.
bought many changes, not least the creation of a model destined for mass
production. This was the surprising Biturbo, a performance saloon with a 2000cc
V6 engine that was launched in 1981. In 1984 an impressive 6,000 Biturbos were
constructed . Further development of the turbocharged V6 engine led in 1989 to
the launch of the Shamal that featured the first Maserati V8 engine to adopt
twin turbochargers. In 1993 Fiat Auto acquired the entire share capital of
Maserati which was put under the full control of Ferrari on 7th July 1997.
on the new Maserati factory on 1st October 1997 and the Quattroporte Evoluzione came
out in 1998. That same year, the 3200GT was launched at the Paris Motor Show. It
was both the first Maserati of the new era and a revival of a 4 seater Grand
Tourer tradition that began forty years earlier with the 3500 GT. The 3200GT was
followed in 2001 by the new Spyder, based on a re-worked 3200GT floorpan but
featuring a shortened wheelbase and an all new 4200cc normally aspirated V8
engine and a transaxle gearbox. This new engine and running gear together with a
number of styling changes were carried over from the Spyder, launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2001, to the Coupe that
was launched at the Detriot Motorshow in January 2002.
September 2003 saw the launch of Maserati's majestic new Pininfarina-designed Quattroporte, a curvaceous yet aggressive-looking, big, five-metre long saloon that hailed the rebirth of the 'Italian flagship car'. In March 2004, the 74th Geneva International Motorshow saw the unveiling of the long-awaited MC12 and GranSport models.
To celebrate Maserati's 90th Anniversary, the Modenese company presented a new, limited edition model. Featuring a new Blue Anniversary livery, the Spyder came equipped with a bodykit comprising of sports bumpers and underdoor sills.
While Maseratisti from all over the world assembled in Modena and Rome to celebrate Maserati's 90th anniversary, at Oschersleben in Germany, Maserati raced to its first international race victory since 1967 when Mika Salo and Andrea Bertolini, driving the sensational new MC12, won the 9th round of the FIA GT Championship.
The Geneva Auto Show of 2007 saw the worldwide debut of a new model, the long-awaited Maserati GranTurismo, styled by Pininfarina, it is the latest addition to the Maserati stable
Article reproduced courtesy of
Antonio Ferreira, Maserati S.p.A. press office.