The Maserati Story began in end-1914 when a company called Società Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati was formed by the Maserati brothers. The company started building custom racecars for private use and the brothers went on to score many wins around the world with their cars. 23 years later, the Maserati brothers sold their stake in Maserati to the Orsi family. The company continued to find success in motorsports, winning various races such as the Indy 500. Before it ended up in Fiat/Ferrari’s hands today, it passed through a few owners actually, such as the Orsi family I mentioned earlier, and later Citroen, De Tomaso and later Fiat.
Under the Orsi ownership the company built mostly race cars such as the Maserati A6GCM, the 4CL/4CLT and the A6, but towards the end shifted slowly towards road cars such as the Maserati 3500. You could say the Maserati 3500 (shown above) was the company’s first attempt at a GT car and is the current Maserati GranTurismo’s great great great great grandfather.
Of course the definition of a GT back then was pretty much the same as it is now – looks good, powerful, and enough luggage space for both you and your partner (such as the lady above though I recommend she to be safe in the passenger seat instead) to go a pan-European journey. It was powered by a 3.5 litre straight-six engine with a 42 DCOE Weber carburettor putting out 220 horsepower at 5,500rpm. It had mechanical Magneti-Marelli ignition, twin spark plugs and two fuel pumps. The engine was derived from the 350S and was matched to a 4-speed ZF gearbox with no overdrive. Power went to the rear via a live axle, but the front had a wishbone and coil spring setup. The same chassis also spawned the 5000 GT, powered by a 5.0 litre V8 with 325 horsepower, thanks to Lucas mechanical injection or four 45 DCOE Weber carburettors.
This car you see here is from the same era and also based on the 3500. It’s known as either the Maserati Sebring or the Maserati GTiS, with the S standing for Sebring, named after the Maserati’s 12 Hours of Sebring racing victory in 1957. It started off mechanically similiar to the 3500 but later evolved into 3700 GTiS and 4000 GTiS forms with a 3.7 litre engine and a 255 horsepower 4.0 litre engine respectively. The Sebring was named by Jeremy Clarkson as the #77 car on his Top 100 cars list. The Sebring had an automatic option, a 3-speed BorgWarner gearbox.
The 1967 Maserati Ghibli outsold the Ferrari Daytone and the Lamborghini Miura during its day. Under its hood was a 330 horsepower quad-cam V8 engine that gave it a 0 to 100km/h acceleration time of 6.8 seconds. It had 2 fuel tanks, which could be accessed from flaps at either side of the roof pillars. A convertible version that was relatively rare went on sale 2 years after the coupe’s debut, but the coupe still outsold it by 10 to 1.
Under Citroen ownership came models like the Maserati Quattroporte II (translation – Maserati Four Door) which was actually based on the Citroen SM. It was very Citroen – it even had the hydropneumatic suspension that Citroens were famous for. The Frenchies didn’t do very well with this model – it’s V6 engine wasn’t very appealing as it was less than 200 horsepower and there was also an oil crisis going on.
Under De Tomaso ownership in the late 70s and 80s, Maserati shifted focus more to squarish front engine, rear wheel drive cars. Examples of such cars are the Maserati Biturbo, the Maserati Quattroporte III and the Maserati Ghimbli II. The Quattroporte III (shown above) went back to looking Italian and was penned by Giugiaro. It was designed to compete with the 450SEL 6.9, and was powered by a 251 horsepower 4.2L engine or a 4.9 litre V8 with 280 horsepower.
The Ghibli II was a fairly new car – it was released in 1992, one year before De Tomaso handed over Maserati to Fiat. The Ghibli was a 2-door coupe using engines from the Maserati Biturbo series. You could have it in either a 2.0 litre V6 or a 2.8 litre V6 with either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic. The Ghibli had several special editions including a race-ready Ghibli Open Cup which featured roller-bearing turbos, a freer-flowing exhaust, and remapped fuel computers. It also had a carbon-fiber trimmed stripped down interior with aluminium pedals and a MOMO steering wheel.
Of course, Maseratis started getting a whole lot more sexier during its Ferrari/Fiat ownership. It heralded pretty much a new era on how Maseratis looked like. That is of course a story for another day, another day this week to be exact, so stay tuned for more Maserati stories this week as we count down to the relaunch of the Maserati marque in Malaysia!