Maserati Forum banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
There's quite a bit of Maserati history on the Web in Wikipedia and elsewhere. I've taken what I found and edited/added additional info as I know it to provide fellow Maseratisti with a concise unofficial history of Maserati. Please feel free to comment/correct/add as you see fit - this is for our mutual enjoyment, with no claims of originality or copyright:
The History of Maserati

Maserati is an Italian manufacturer of racing cars, sports cars, and luxury automobiles originally established in 1914 in Bologna, Italy. There were six Maserati brothers: Alfieri, Bindo, Carlo, Ettore, Ernesto and Mario. The first five were directly involved with building racing cars and Mario, an artist, is believed to have designed the company's trademark emblem, derived from Neptune’s trident in the statue of the Fontana del Nettuno in Bologna. Alfieri, Bindo and Ernesto built 2-litre Grand Prix cars for race car builder Diatto until 1926 when Diatto withdrew from competition. Their cars then became the first true Maserati automobiles, one of which, driven by Alfieri, won the 1926 Targa Florio. The Maserati brothers subsequently expanded their efforts, making race cars with 4, 6, 8 and a total of 16 cylinders (two straight eights mounted parallel to one another).
Alfieri died in 1932 but Bindo, Ernesto and Ettore kept making racing cars that won races. However, in 1937 the Maserati brothers sold out to the Adolfo Orsi family, who in 1940 relocated the company to Modena, which remains the company's headquarters and only manufacturing site. The brothers worked for Orsi in various engineering roles and Maserati continued to be successful in racing, even against the German giants Auto Union and Mercedes. In fact, in 1939 and again in 1940, a Maserati 8CTF won the Indianapolis 500, a feat never accomplished by contemporary rival Ferrari. During World War II, Maserati attempted to design and construct a V16 town car for Benito Mussolini before Ferry Porsche of Volkswagen could build one for Adolf Hitler, but failed. Maserati then essentially abandoned automobile production to produce components for the Italian war effort.
After the war, Maserati resumed making cars with the Maserati A6 series and again excelled in racing. Alberto Massimino, a veteran Fiat engineer with both Alfa Romeo and Ferrari experience, joined the Maserati team and supervised the design of all racing models for the next ten years. The team also included "ingeniore" Giulio Alfieri (1924-2002),Vittorio Bellentani and Gioacchino Colombo (1903 - 1987), the designer of the V12 Ferrari. This team, which included the Maserati brothers until 1947, developed the Maserati 4CLT, Maserati A6 series, Maserati 8CLT, and the Maserati A6GCM, a car pivotal to the future success of the company. However, the remaining Maserati brothers Ernesto, Ettore, and Bindo left the Maserati firm in 1947 to form a new racing car company, OSCA (Officine Specializzate Costruzioni Automobili - Fratelli Maserati SpA). OSCA was based in San Lazzaro di Saveno outside Bologna, where Maseratis were originally manufactured between 1926 and 1940. The first OSCA was the MT4 (Maserati Tipo 4 cilindri) which won the 12 hours of Sebring endurance race in 1954, driven by Sirling Moss. In 1963 the Maserati brothers again sold their company, for the last time, to Count Domenico Augusta, owner of motorcycle manyfacturer MV Agusta .
The great Juan-Manuel Fangio drove for Orsi’s Maserati team for several years in the 1950s, producing a number of stunning victories including the world championship in 1957 in a Maserati 250F. Maserati retired their factory racing team after 1957 but continued to build racing cars and engines for other teams. Notable efforts were the Maserati 200S, Maserati 300S, Maserati 350S, and the Maserati 450S, followed in 1961 by the famous Maserati Birdcage. The company also became more interested in designing and selling sports and road cars. Chief engineer Alfieri built the 6-cylinder Maserati 3500 2+2 coupe featuring an aluminum body over Carrozzeria Touring's superleggera (ultra lightweight) structure, a design also used for the small-volume V8-powered Maserati 5000. This was followed by the Vignale-bodied Sebring in 1962 and the Mistral Coupe (1963) and Spyder (1964), both designed by Pietro Frua. The first Maserati four-door sedan, the Quattroporte, also designed by Frua, appeared in 1963. The two-seater Maserati Ghibli coupe was launched in 1967, followed by a convertible version in 1969.
In 1968, Maserati was purchased by French carmaker Citroën, with Orsi staying on as nominal president of the company. Citroën borrowed Maserati expertise and engines for the revolutionary Citroën SM and other vehicles, and new Maseratis incorporated Citroën technology, particularly hydraulics. New models included the first mass-produced mid-engined Maserati, the Bora, in 1971, and soon afterwards the Merak and Khamsin. The Quattroporte II, which shared some parts with Citroën SM, never reached production. With the 1973 oil crisis, however, demand for sports and luxury cars shrank quickly, and Citroën went bankrupt in 1974. The following year group PSA Peugeot Citroën declared Maserati to be in liquidation, requiring an infusion of Italian government funds to keep Maserati solvent.
In 1975, the Benelli motorcycle company, controlled by Alessandro de Tomaso, a former Argentine racing driver, purchased Maserati from Citroën and made de Tomaso its new managing director. New models were introduced in 1976, including the Kyalami and the Quattroporte III. During the next decade of the 80’s Maserati stopped producing exotic mid-engined sports cars, instead focusing on front-engined, rear-drive coupes like the Biturbo that still promised performance but were less expensive to produce. The Biturbo spawned a large number of subsequent versions sharing key components, including two Zagato designs, Karif cabriolet and the Spyder. The last version of the Biturbo, the Racing, passed on several features to the subsequent Ghibli II and Shamal coupes, introduced in 1990 and 1992, respectively. The company also collaborated with Chrysler, which was now lead by de Tomaso's friend Lee Iacocca. Chrysler actually purchased a stake in Maserati and the two firms jointly produced the Chrysler TC by Maserati for the American market, an undistinguished, cosmetically-repackaged K-car that undermined Maserati’s reputation in America.
Maserati was acquired by Fiat, an industrial conglomerate that also made substantial investments in Maserati, in 1993. In 1997, Fiat sold a 50% share in Maserati to Ferrari, also controlled by Fiat. A year later Maserati introduced the 3200 GT, a two-door GT coupe powered by a small twin-turbocharged V8. In 1999, Ferrari, under Luca DeMontezemolo, took control of Maserati’s future, sharing both engineering and production resources. After many years of teetering on the brink of bankruptcy with cars of dubious quality and design integrity, Maserati was brought back to automotive and financial respectability by its new relationship with Ferrari, long considered to be an arch-rival. A new Maserati factory, one of the most advanced in the world, opened in Modena in 2001, replacing the existing 1940s-vintage facility. The 3200 GT was subsequently replaced by the 4200 GT that featured a Ferrari-designed and -built 4.2L normally-aspirated V-8 and automated manual “Cambiocorsa” transmission for the 2002 model year. This car, a refinement of the original 42000 GT design penned by Guigiaro at Ital Design, marked the return of Maserati to the important American market. It was produced in limited numbers over the next five years in various editions as the Coupe GT (2+2 hardtop with conventional manual transmission), Spyder (short wheelbase 2-seater convertible model with either transmission), and GranSport (available in 2005 as hardtop and in 2006 also as convertible with the Cambiocorsa transmission and some additional refinements to body and chassis).
More recently, the Quattroporte, a highly-styled Pinifarina-designed luxury sedan using the familiar Ferrari-sourced 4.2 L V8 engine has been a commercial success and is the company’s most popular model in the United Sates. Maserati sold 2,006 cars in the United States in 2005, 2,108 in 2006, and 2,540 in 2007, and began distributorships around the world, including in new markets in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia.. In the second quarter of 2007 Maserati made a substantial profit for the first time since it came under the Fiat Group banner. The Quattroporte with the “Duo-Select” version of the Ferrari-sourced and Formula 1-developed “F1” Cambiocorsa transmission was supplemented by an additional model in 2007 with fully automatic transmission, requiring a substantial re-engineering of the original chassis but contributing greatly to the Quattroporte’s current popularity. Other new models include the GranTurismo, introduced in 2007, a dramatic Pininfarina-designed 2+2 luxury coupe based on a shortened Quattroporte chassis, and the exotic MC12, a street-legal GT homologation racecar based in large part upon the Ferrari Enzo supercar but with unique Maserati bodywork and interior details. However, the relationship between Maserati and Ferrari was markedly diminished in 2005 as an indirect consequence of the termination of an agreement between Fiat and General Motors. Fiat subsequently separated Maserati engineering, product development, and marketing from Ferrari and allied them with another legendary Fiat-owned automobile marque, Alfa Romeo. Thus begins yet another chapter in the long and complex history of Maserati automobiles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
No comments, corrections, or additions from anyone?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,685 Posts
No comments, corrections, or additions from anyone?
While most of us know some of the history, this was concise and complete. Thank you for taking the time. What a great marque, rich in racing history.

The end of the story is an emotional one. Some of us drive cars that were designed by and share components with Ferrari. The future Maserati owners will be linked with Alfa, complete with automatic transmissions and wet sumps. Seems the 02-06 4200's represent a significant place in Maserati history.

BTW, I don't think the MC12 is street legal. At least not in Texas (that's why I didn't buy one :D )
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,309 Posts
Captain - Thank for this. I learned a few things that added richness to my existing knowledge and appreciation of the Maserati. One item that may need some research is whether the Spyder GranSport was introduced in 2006.

"...GranSport (available in 2005 as hardtop and in 2006 also as convertible)..."

I thought the GS Spyder was available in '05. Isn't the Spyder 50th Anniversary edition a GranSport model? It may however not have had the slight engine mods to take the HP to 400 (I believe it may be 390HP). If so, then maybe the statement is correct.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
4,261 Posts
The MC12 is street legal. 25 units were made and sold to private buyers in order to homologate the car for the FIA GT championship.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
The end of the story is an emotional one. Some of us drive cars that were designed by and share components with Ferrari. The future Maserati owners will be linked with Alfa, complete with automatic transmissions and wet sumps. Seems the 02-06 4200's represent a significant place in Maserati history.
Buzz: I agree completely - I'm one of those Maserati owners who saw the GranSport as a unique opportunity to drive a beautiful Italian sports car with a Ferrari drivetrain at a price that was (barely) affordable. With recent corporate changes at Fiat and Maserati, however, that window may have closed forever. That's one of the recurrent themes in Maserati history - constant changes in ownership, direction, and engineering pedigree. I wonder what the original Maserati brothers would say if they were here today?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
517 Posts
BTW, I don't think the MC12 is street legal. At least not in Texas (that's why I didn't buy one :D )

Here is one going down Park Ave in Manhattan. If you want one that can be arranged and it will be street legal in Texas.
 

Attachments

1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top