100 years

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The Maserati story is first of all the story of a family: Rodolfo Maserati, a railroad worker during Italy's period as a monarchy, Carolina Losi and their 7 children. In those days, working near the “iron steam horse” wasn’t for everyone. Rodolfo is, in a certain sense, a man of the future: the Maserati brothers inherited their passion for speed from him. By the turn of the new century the family is complete: youngest son Ettore is born in 1894, whilst eldest son Carlo, born in 1881, has already begun his career.


Eldest son Carlo Maserati is a precocious young boy. At 17, he designs his first single cylinder engine naming it Carcano after the Marquis of Anzano who had financed the project. Mounting it on a bicycle, he manages to win the 1900 Brescia-Cremona-Mantua-Verona-Brescia rally. His sporting abilities don’t go unnoticed, and before the end of the year Carlo is hired by Fiat as a test pilot. While in Turin he designs a new single cylinder engine in his spare time, which he puts into a wooden car chassis. This could be considered, in some respects, to be the birth of the first Maserati which was, as always, well ahead of its time.


In 1908 Carlo Maserati becomes the managing director of the Junior car company of Milan. Shortly afterwards, in 1909, he founds his own company. He hasn’t lost his passion for cars, of course, but the goal of this new business is the design and production of a superior airplane engine for which he already had backers. Carlo immediately begins working on this project but in 1910 a lung illness puts an end to his life and his dreams. The loss is devastating for his brothers but Carlo remains a shining example who would never be forgotten. At this point, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of Alfieri.


Carlo Maserati is a restless man: his desire to race sees him also leave the Isotta Fraschini team. In 1907 he moves to Bianchi: at the wheel of one of these cars, he competes in the prestigious German race Kaiserpreis, finishing ninth. Although busy with racing, he hasn’t completely given up his passion for design. He understands that the weakness of the Bianchi car is the low voltage ignition system. He therefore substitutes it with a high voltage system that he had designed himself.


In 1903 Carlo Maserati leaves Fiat and is hired by Isotta Fraschini, as a test pilot and assistant in the test center. While here, he brings in his brother Alfieri who’s only 16 at the time. When Carlo finally leaves Isotta Fraschini in 1908, Alfieri remains. He already caught the eye of Cesare Isotta who wants him first as a mechanic, then as a driver. In 1908, in his Isotta Fraschini number 41, he participates in the Gran Premio delle Voiturette di Dieppe. He comes in fourteenth, first amongst the four cylinder cars.


In 1913 Alfieri moves to Bologna where he starts a service centre for Isotta Fraschini. For some time now he has been a kind of worldwide ambassador for the brand. But soon, following in the footsteps of Carlo, he decides to go it alone, also involving his brothers in his new business: Bindo stays at Isotta Fraschini but Ettore and Ernesto follow him immediately. The result is the founding of “Società Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati”, a car garage with an attached workshop at no. 1 via de’ Pepoli. The “incorporation papers for an individual enterprise” are sent to the Bologna Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday 1 December 1914. Five months later, Italy is at war. Alfieri and Ettore are drafted for national service. Ernesto, only 17, remains behind, working at the workshop during the day and going to school at the Aldini Technical Institute of Bologna in the evenings.


When the war ends, Alfieri seeks to kick-start activities. He founds a bottle factory at number 179 Frazione Alemanni, in the Pontevecchio area. Here, there is space for a warehouse, the workshop and also for a small simple residence that the three brothers and their parents move in to. In July 1914, Alfieri moves the production of spark plugs here having begun producing them in Milan during the Great War. At last, the sign above the three large windows now officially declares that the “Officine Alfieri Maserati SA” is in business.


Italy enters the war, and the Maserati brothers are conscripted but remain well behind the battle lines. In fact, the army tries to use their technical expertise to their advantage. Alfieri is transferred to Milan, where the aircraft engines are assembled. However, such is his nature, he wants to do more. He begins to design and produce special spark plugs for aircraft engines under the company name Trucco & Maserati. Trucco is a driver for Isotta Fraschini and, as such, an old acquaintance of Alfieri.


The spark plugs patented by Alfieri with insulation made from mica, are used on the SVA planes. On 9 August 1918 poet Gabriele d’Annunzio flies one of these planes when he famously attacks Vienna, a feat that greatly contributes to his legendary status.


Alfieri, Ernesto and Ettore work intensely on the creation of the first Maserati. One of the brothers, Bindo, remains with Isotta Fraschini. However, Alfieri decides to involve another brother, Mario, an artist and the only sibling who has nothing to do with engines. He is commissioned to design the logo. Following a suggestion by Marquis Diego de Sterlich, a close friend and supporter of Alfieri, Mario chooses to use one of the most characteristic symbols of Bologna: the trident from the statue of Neptune in Piazza Maggiore, a symbol of strength and vigour. He chooses the colours red and blue: the colours of the banner of the city of Bologna, which from this day on, would also be the colours of Maserati.


The 1925 season sees the end of the partnership with Diatto, who, due to their heavy debts, decide to give up racing. Thanks to the financial assistance of Marquis Diego de Sterlich, a gentleman and Diatto driver and a big fan of Alfieri, the Maserati brothers manage to buy ten Diatto 30 Sport chassis. This marks the beginning of the production of the first cars to sport the Maserati logo.


In 1922 the Maserati brothers begin working with the Diatto company of Turin. It would be a great learning experience. However, the results in the first races are poor. At this point Alfieri decides to bring back the hybrid Isotta Fraschini-Hispano Suiza-SCAT-Itala, which had given him so much satisfaction before passing over to Diatto, from the workshop. He completely redesigns the engine and when he’s finally satisfied he renames it the Diatto. Alfieri wins the Susa-Moncenisio in this car at the extraordinary average speed of 69 km/h. Teamed with Ernesto, they repeat the feat shortly after in the Aosta-Gran San Bernardo.


In 1920 Alfieri Maserati goes back to racing, starting off in a SCAT, and then later in a four cylinder Nesseldorf. The results aren’t exceptional, but they make him all the more determined to create the first real Maserati. On a chassis from Isotta Fraschini he mounts the engine block of a four cylinder on an engine from Hispano Suiza made for eight. The puzzle becomes even more complex with his use of a transmission made by SCAT, an Itala axle and wheels with spokes from Rudge. Piloting the Isotta Fraschini Special, Alfieri begins to enjoy some real success. The car's official debut is on 24 July 1921 at Mugello. He comes fourth overall and second in his class. Two months later, with his brother Ernesto by his side, he wins his first race, the Susa-Moncenisio, the first of many triumphs.


The first car to sport the Maserati name, the Tipo 26, is an evolution of the Diatto GP 8C turbo and is named after the year of its racing debut. It is a debut to remember: eighth place overall and victory in the class up to 1,500 cc.

In his notebook with the blue cover, which he wrote in with very elegant handwriting, Alfieri writes down “all the characteristics of the cars which had been built so far”. Here’s how he describes the first Tipo 26: “Engine moved forward cm 3 – Transmission Tipo 26, three speed – Exhaust pipes in three sections – Differential box in bronze with tubes nailed on – Front axle type Casaralta with front brakes actioned by flexible cables.”


The 13th of June 1926 brings the first outright victory. The race is the speed kilometre of Bologna. In the driver's seat is youngest brother Ernesto who goes above 167 km/h. The Maserati brothers increase production and begin to sell the Tipo 26 to private drivers, the gentlemen drivers of the time, who after having seen it race in its first season, form a long line outside the Bologna workshop.

The success continues, but on 8 May 1927, during a race in Sicily, Alfieri Maserati has a terrible accident in which he loses a kidney.

On 28 September 1929, in Cremona, Maserati finally sets its first world record. Baconin Borzacchini is behind the wheel of a V4 with a 16 cylinder engine and finishes the ten kilometre race flying at an average speed of 246.069 km/h. This record remains intact until the end of 1937.


1930 proves to be a year of big wins. At the Tripoli Grand Prix, Maserati records its first international victory. But this is also the year that sees Maserati and Enzo Ferrari officially go head-to-head for the first time at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza: Maserati dominates the race and is the only constructor on the winners podium. The head of the Italian government gives Alfieri the title of Cavaliere. In the meantime, the production of race cars increases to twelve finished cars.


In 1932 Alfieri dies during surgery at just 44 years of age. His only remaining kidney following his serious accident of ’27 had been weak for a long time: to save it, the doctors attempt a drastic operation but unfortunately to no avail. Bologna stops: those present at the funeral procession include the most important drivers of the time, from Nuvolari and Nazzaro to Minoia, Borzacchini, Campari and the Marquis de Sterlich. It’s a huge loss for everyone, particularly the Maserati family and the company. Bindo Maserati leaves Isotta Fraschini and rejoins his brothers who appoint him chairman of the company. Ernesto takes care of the technical side: he’s young, but talented. The new Tipo V5 makes a successful debut and the brand continues to prosper despite the difficult economic situation.


In 1933 the dashing Tazio Nuvolari arrives at Maserati. Having fallen out with Enzo Ferrari, who he says does not want him as an equal partner, the legendary pilot decides in fact to race for Maserati: driving the 8CM, he wins the Belgian GP, the Ciano Cup, the Nice GP and the Tourist Trophy. This car is the evolution of the previous 8C, with redesigned suspension by Ernesto Maserati. The front chassis was made more rigid on the suggestion of the driver. Their collaboration continues until 1934. Tazio doesn’t become part of the official team though: he buys a car, and Ernesto supplies technical assistance, but he continues to race as a private driver.


Even though customers continue to line up outside the workshop in order to buy the 8CM, Maserati is under sustained pressure from the new German entries, Mercedes and Auto Union, strongly supported by the government of the Third Reich. Ernesto, Ettore and Bindo understand that the country needs a decisive change of direction: for this reason they welcome the collaboration of famous Italian entrepreneur Adolfo Orsi. His empire stretches from foundries to the steel industry, from metallurgy to machine tools, from farm equipment to services. Like the Maserati brothers, he’s a self made man. In 1937, Ernesto, Ettore and Bindo sell the entire company to him. However, they continue to cover various management roles in the two separate companies Orsi buys: Officine Alfieri Maserati, for the production of race cars, and Fabbrica Candele Maserati, for the production of spark plugs. The headquarters of both companies remain in Bologna. Orsi is an intelligent businessman, he successfully gets the finances of the companies in order but doesn’t interfere in the technical side of things, in which he has no expertise. Finally, free from other external distractions, the Maserati brothers can get back to doing what they do best in the world of racing.


The first product of the Orsi-Maserati era is unveiled in March 1938. It’s the 8CTF: 8 Cylinder Fixed Head. The competition from the German cars continues to torment them, but there is no shortage of victories. In 1939, Maserati wins for the first time in America: Wilbur Shaw, driving his 8CTF, renamed the “Boyle Special”, wins in Indianapolis. Maserati is the first Italian manufacturer to win the prestigious title. And they manage to repeat the trick the following year.


The Maserati victory at the Gran Premio of Nizza in 1946 carries a huge symbolic value: the Second World War is finally over. The civilian world is working again. Instead, after this huge success, Ernesto, Ettore and Bindo Maserati decide to leave the company and return to Bologna. There were never any particular problems with Orsi, but perhaps the brothers preferred to get away from the big industrial mentality of the group and furthermore, were tired of the continuing discussions with the unions. They opened a new company, Osca, where they dedicated themselves exclusively to the design, development and construction of race cars.


By the outbreak of the Second World War Maserati has left Bologna for Modena. Orsi had wanted to concentrate all of his businesses in one geographical area which he owned. The Maserati factory opens in viale Ciro Menotti, an address destined to become synonymous with the world of automobiles. However, because of the war they have to forget about producing race cars for a while and concentrate on producing spark plugs and other items critical to the war effort. In this period, Maserati Spark Plugs and Batteries continues to supply Maserati Auto with the batteries it needed for its electric vehicles produced between 1940 and 1945.


At the beginning of March 1946 , the prototype of what can be considered the first GranTurismo - i.e. the first Maserati destined for daily use and not for racing - is unveiled at the Geneva Car Show. Simply christened “A6” – A in honour of Alfieri and 6 denoting the number of cylinders – the project was begun by Ernesto Maserati before the brothers decided to leave the company forever. The design and originality are immediately appreciated by the public: production begins in earnest. In 1948, at the Turin Motor Show, Maserati exhibits the first A6 1500 model, the incredible styling of which was the work of renowned designer Pininfarina.


1950 marks the birth of what would four years later become Formula 1. Maserati is there from the beginning, starting from the very first race, but their cars (which in reality, considering the rules of this first phase, were still F2 class cars) were not too successful initially. The tension within the company at the end of the 40’s wasn't conducive to the development of race cars. In 1952 a new F1 rule favours cars with a maximum engine size of two litres if aspirated, or one and a half litres if supercharged. The new formula opens the playing field to Alberto Ascari and to Ferrari, but even Maserati prepares to re-enter the tough competition in full force. In fact, the era of Juan Manuel Fangio now begins.


In 1953 Adolfo Orsi divides the management of his companies between various family members: for himself and his son Omar he keeps the Officine Alfieri Maserati, which includes the production of cars and machine tools. According to his plan, car production would increase the prestige of his company thus helping to sell his machine tools.


In 1956 Formula 1 becomes a family duel between the rivals from Modena: Ferrari and Maserati. Modena is a city divided, half rooting for one team and half rooting for the other. On Sundays the cars square off on the track. On Monday mornings, the winning fans enjoy bragging rights over the losers in the bars and under the colonnades in the city centre.


In 1954, the World Championship rules change again: in reality, it could be said that this is the moment that the real Formula 1 is born. Maserati returns as a protagonist with the 250F, which debuts with an immediate victory. Juan Manuel Fangio wins the Argentinean and Spa Grands Prix. Later the Argentine pilot, already driving for Mercedes, returns to the House of Stuttgart and then to Ferrari, but the crowning moment of his career is still to arrive. And it will be aboard a Maserati.


After the huge win in 1957, a series of financial difficulties forces Adolfo Orsi to close down certain parts of his industrial empire, including the sports division. It’s an enormous sacrifice, but signals the beginning of a turnaround. Concentrating exclusively on the automobile sector, Maserati transforms itself in a short time into one of the most prestigious car manufacturers in the world.


In 1957 the famous Juan Manuel Fangio leaves Ferrari and comes back to Maserati. He wins four of the eight GP’s needed to win the world title: Argentina, Monaco, France and most importantly, Germany. It’s here on the Nürburgring circuit, that on Sunday 4 August, the extraordinary Argentinean pilot records the biggest victory of his career to become world champion for the fifth and final time.


The “White Dame”, as the first prototype of the 3500 GT is called, is Maserati’s answer to the car market during the economic boom years. From 1961 Maserati also introduces the GTI, famous for being the first car with direct injection in Italy. The Shah of Persia is also impressed by the White Dame, but wants something even more exclusive. The famous engineer Giulio Alfieri takes up the challenge and finally realizes his long awaited dream: putting the 8 cylinder of the 450 S (the car in which Fangio had won the famous 12 Hours of Sebring) in a GranTurismo. The “Shah of Persia” is still considered to be one of the finest models by collectors and car historians. It has gold and precious wood finishes and is the most exclusive and luxurious car in the world at the time.


From around the middle of the 60’s Maserati starts to become famous for its collaboration with well-known Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, a relationship that would last for years to come. His first project, the 8 cylinder Ghibli, debuts at the Turin Auto Show in 1966 and is an immediate success. Maserati originally planned on producing on a hundred cars but production was immediately increased to 400. In the end, it was in production until the end of 1972 and a total of 1295 of these models were made, both in the spyder and coupé versions.


The idea of mounting a Maserati race engine in a sedan is suggested to 'Commendatore' Orsi by the journalist Gino Rancati. It’s a big change: until now Maserati had only built coupés and spyders. At the Turin Motor Show in 1963 Maserati shocks the auto world with the introduction of the Quattroporte, the fastest sedan in the world. The big flagship car of the Trident has all the characteristic traits of a Maserati – elegance, sportiness, power, and luxury – all of which in a four door model. The design project is a joint effort by engineers Alfieri and Pietro Frua, who designs the body.


The Sebring is the evolution of the 3500 GT. It is named after the Florida autodrome where famous driver Juan Manuel Fangio won the 12 Hours in 1957. For those who so desired, automatic transmission was available together with spoked wheels and even air conditioning: accessories which were unheard of at the time. Fresh from his latest success at Covent Garden in London, even the young Modenese tenor decides to treat himself to a Sebring. It is the beginning of a lasting relationship between Maserati and the great Maestro.


Even though Maserati has abandoned the race track, the desire for racing remains in its blood. Thus is born, from a project by engineer Giulio Alfieri, the legendary Tipo 60. Known by its nickname the Birdcage, it didn’t appear in official races under the Maserati name, but it was given to the most prestigious racing teams and won some important races like the two consecutive wins – in ‘60 and ’61 – at the 1,000 kilometre Nürburgring, as well as other even more important victories in the USA.


Lightweight, extremely sporty and powerful, the Mistral is the first Maserati to be identified with the name of a famous wind. It is presented at the Turin Motor Show in 1963 but production of the coupé and spyder versions only begins at the beginning of 1964.


In order to keep up with the times, it is necessary to think big. The Orsi family therefore decides to inject new blood into the company by taking on a new partner: Citroën. The company is organised by model and becomes more structured thanks to the influence of the French automaker, following its corporate example. During the 70’s, there are lots of other changes: the Orsi family finally leaves and Citroën sells out to Gepi, an Italian state owned company directed by the Argentinean-Italian entrepreneur Alejandro De Tomaso. Everything changes, but some things remain the same: the propelling and innovative force of Maserati, which never ceases to propose new models to the market.


In 1971 famous designer Giorgetto Giugiaro creates a new masterpiece: the Bora, another Maserati named, by no coincidence, after a famous wind. This extraordinary coupé brings back the disappearing front headlights of the Ghibli but has a much sportier feel, with the rear mounted engine in the centre. Also unforgettable is the Merak, described by Adolfo Orsi Jr. as the “little sister” of the Bora. At the Geneva Motor Show in 1972 Giugiaro presents a futuristic looking coupé called the Boomerang. Although never put into production it is still considered as one of his most celebrated concept cars.


In 1978 famous war hero Sandro Pertini, Head of the Italian State, chooses the Quattroporte Royale as his official car. It remained such until 1985. President Pertini always rode in this car, even during a visit to Maranello which became famous because Enzo Ferrari, in acknowledgment of the long rivalry between the two famous companies in Modena, refused to go and meet the presidential Maserati upon its arrival.


The Maserati Quattroporte continues to be synonymous with elegance and style, so much so that it appears in many films in the 80's. Sylvester Stallone chooses it as boxer Rocky Balboa's car in Rocky III (1982) while David Cronenberg uses it in two films, The Fly, in 1982, and The Dead Zone, 1983.


The Biturbo is the most symbolic car of the 80’s. The first sedans were launched on 14 December 1981, the birthday of Maserati, i.e. the date on which the Chamber of Commerce stamped the request filed 14 days earlier by the Maserati brothers in 1914. Beautiful and extremely high performance, the 6 cylinder 1,996 cc with two compressors can power up to 215 km/h. The Biturbo would end up being the most widely produced Maserati of all time. In its multiple versions and evolutions, from the Spyder to the Biturbo S, between 1982 and 1993 around 37,000 would be produced in total.


For Maserati the future begins in 1993 with its acquisition by the Fiat Group. Giovanni Agnelli, with incredible foresight, understands the enormous potential of this still small Italian icon of excellence. The company is headed up by Luca di Montezemolo, President and CEO of Ferrari. The final buyout of Maserati by Ferrari takes place in two stages with an initial stake purchased in 1997 and 100% of the company acquired in 1999. The partnership between the two most famous car manufacturers in Modena is destined to become even more famous than their old rivalry.


The first contribution of the Ferrari management is to drive the completion of an ongoing project: the 3200 GT, a coupé designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro that originally debuted at the Paris Motor Show of 1998. However, it was immediately decided that the coupé would be upgraded with an engine produced in Maranello. From this revolutionary idea, the Spyder was born, the car which marks the return of Maserati to the United States.


With the move to Ferrari the Maserati production line is initially halted. The objective is clear: completely close down the Modena factory, remodernise it and equip it with the most up-to-date production lines. The Maserati workers are temporarily moved to Maranello, but after only six months they return to their historic base in viale Ciro Menotti. Everything is ready, the future begins.


In 2001, after 12 year absence from the US market, Maserati returns to the United States. A car manufacturer who can pass the quality and safety tests in the USA is ready for any challenge, and it is no coincidence that this return is celebrated in great style during the gala evening at the Italian American Cancer Foundation. The room is full of famous personalities such as Lauren Bacall, Ivana Trump, Umberto Veronesi. The Maserati Spyder, the first real Maserati with an engine from Maranello, is the star of the charity auction. The electric blue body accentuates the form of the car, a creation by none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro. The winning bid of 130,000 USD is made by an Italian banker who lives and works in Milan and New York.


In 2004 Maserati also returns to winning ways on the track. This is thanks to an extraordinary race car: the MC12. Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and Frank Stevenson, this supercar was developed for the track by Giorgio Ascanelli and has managed to accumulate an impressive haul of trophies. Maserati's participation in the FIA GT from 2005 to 2010 is crowned with fourteen titles (and 19 victories): two Manufacturers Cups (2005 and 2007), five Driver Championships (Bartels-Bertolini in 2006, Thomas Biagi in 2007, and Bartels-Bertolini in 2008, 2009 and 2010); six Team Championships (uninterrupted since 2005, by the Vitaphone Racing Team); one Citation Cup in 2007 by gentleman driver Ben Aucott, JMB Racing, in addition to three absolute victories in the Spa 24 Hours (2005, 2006 and 2008).


Following the Quattroporte, famous designer Pininfarina designs a new coupé which would have a profound impact on the history of Maserati. Incredibly beautiful, the GranTurismo wins at the Geneva Motor Show in 2007. The press fight amongst themselves to show it on their covers, the orders mount up day by day: it is a triumphant success story. And this is only the beginning.


After the release of the first GranTurismo model almost half a century ago, famous Italian designer Pininfarina returns to create a Maserati: the new Quattroporte, a car which has always held a special place in the history and annals of the House of the Trident. The arrival of the Quattroporte completes the Maserati range and significantly increases sales. But the Quattroporte also enjoys another huge success: after Sandro Pertini, another Italian president, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, chooses it as his official state car. In honour of his illustrious predecessor, Ciampi chooses the color “Pertini Blue”.

The new Maserati Quattroporte

The new Maserati Quattroporte. Maserati’s latest, outstanding creature is a truly amazing car. Springing from the great Quattroporte tradition, it still has an unmistakable, timeless silhouette. Reworked with an extremely modern approach, it encapsulates the luxurious soul of the limousine and the racing spirit of the grand tourer. Generously sized, but with a streamlined, dynamic look. A harmony of shapes that reaches new heights in excellence and exclusiveness. The new Maserati Quattroporte. The story continues.

Maserati Ghibli

A perfect combination of design, sports performance and comfort. A sedan with simple, elegant lines, given prestige by exquisite materials. Sculpted forms and clearly defined shapes, linked by forceful lines that generate movement. A grand tourer with unmistakable class and unrivalled performance. Quick and responsive to drive, with a comfortable interior. The design of this car draws on all of Maserati’s experience and history.

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