Maserati is an Italian car manufacturing company started on 1st December 1914 at Bologna, Italy. The company has the Trident as its emblem. The company was started by the five Maserati brothers Alfieri, Bindo, Carlo, Ettore and Ernesto. Now the company is a part of the Italian car manufacturing giant Fiat. Inside the Fiat group, Maserati was a part of Ferrari in the early days and now it is a part of Alfa Romeo, which is a sports car group.
The Maserati brothers are into making automobile parts from the early twentieth century. The Maserati brothers were seven by birth and only six of them survived childhood. The eldest among the brothers Carlo was a mechanical genius from his early youth and made single cylinder motors for bicycles used for race. He was working as a test driver for Fiat and later he was working for the Junior car company. He died at an early age due to tuberculosis, in 1910. Alfieri Maserati, his brother, was impressed by his elder brother and came into the field of building automotive parts. Later the other brothers joined to form the Maserati Company in Bologna.
As the four brothers were concentrating in the formation of the company, the left brother, Mario Maserati, who was interested in art and drawing, designed the trident emblem of the company, inspired from the trident found in the hands of the statue of Neptune in their home town. The symbol became Maserati’s famous symbol found in its car for more than 80 years.
As Alfieri too died in 1932, the three brothers pulled the company through and were building race cars. Earlier the company concentrated on building aero engines and spark plugs, but later it stepped into building its own cars. The first Maserati cars were produced in 1926, before which they were producing two litres Grand Prix cars for Diatto. The first Maserati was also a race car and won the 1926 Targa Florio, driven by Alfieri Maserati. Later Maserati started building cars with 4, 6, 8 and 16 cylinders.
In 1937, Maserati faced financial problems and the three brothers sold their shares in the Maserati to Adolfo Orsi family, whose son Omar Orsi became its managing director. The three brothers continued to work as its engineering team on a ten year contract basis. Orsi relocated the factory to its current location, Modena. The racing championship of Maserati also continued and in 1939 and 1940, Maserati 8CTF, won the Indianopolis 500, which is one among the three prestigious motor sport events of the world. No other Italian car manufacturer has beaten this record of Maserati.
During the world war of the time, Maserati stopped producing cars and started producing components for Italian warfare. They also tried to produce a car with V16 engine for Benito Mussolini, which failed. After the war, Maserati started producing cars once again. At that time the Maserati A6 series was built and sold in the market.
In 1944, Orsi made Alberto Massimino, an employee of the Fiat, to join Maserati. He had experience with the designs of Fiat’s important sports cars Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. He was to look after the designs of their Maserati cars for the next ten years as the ten years contract period of the Maserati brothers were about to expire. A new set of engineering team joined the Maserati, to build a completely new chassis for the car. They worked on several cars like 4CLT, 8CLT, A6 series and the A6GCS. The Maserati brothers left the company and opened their new race car manufacturing company OSCA.
The Maserati was driven by Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina, in 1950s and saw many victories in several races including the World championship in 1957. This was achieved in a Maserati 250F. Maserati also produced a series of sports car during the years which includes the Maserati 200S, Maserati 300S, Maserati 350S and Maserati 450S. Later in 1961, it built the famous car of Maserati the Maserati birdcage or the Maserati Tipo 61.
Meanwhile Maserati stopped racing at the events since 1957 after a tragic accident in a race event. But it continued to build car for others who participate in races. But this was the time when Maserati started focusing on producing road cars. The first road car of Maserati was a 6 cylinder Maserati 3500 also called as the Tipo 101. It was a two door coupe and the company’s first car in the large volume production.
Later a number of tourer cars followed the Maserati 3500 namely Sebring which was launched in 1962, Mistral coupe launched in 1963 and the Spider launched in 1964. A four door car called as the Maserati Quattroporte was launched by the company in 1963. In 1967 a Ghibli coupe was launched and in 1969 a convertible of the same model was launched.
Citroen takes over Maserati:
In 1968, Citroen, a French car manufacturer, took over the Maserati from Orsi who remained as its nominal president. Citroen used the engineering models of Maserati for its Citroen SM and other cars. It also changed some technologies of the Maserati according to its own technology particularly in hydraulics. Under its owner ship Maserati started mass production. The first car involved in mass production was the Maserati Bora, which was a mid engine car in 1971. The other cars were the Maserati Merak and Khamsin. A version of Maserati Quattroporte II was made for special order but did not come into production. This shared parts with the Citroen SM. Only seven such cars were made making it a rear car. In 1974, the Citroen became bankrupt and Peugeot, who had already acquired a maximum stake in the company, took over Maserati also under its administration.
De Tomaso ownership:
In 1975 Alejandro De Tomaso, a former Argentenian racing driver, bought the Maserati from the Peugeot Citroen. He managed to introduce many new models of cars such as the Maserati Kyalami in 1976 and Maserati Quattroporte III in the year 1979. In 1980s the mid engine design of the Maserati was discontinued and front engine rear wheel drive coupes design was adopted by the Maserati. This led to the introduction of cheap and aggressive models of Maserati cars such as the Maserati Biturbo. This engine was used in many other Maserati cars that followed. They were, Maserati Karif, Cabriolet and a Spyder. The last car to use this engine was the Maserati racing. This car gave a platform to test the Maserati Shamal and Ghibli II which were launched in 1990 and 1992 respectively.
Later Chrysler, led by a friend of de Tomaso, purchased a part of Maserati from de Tomaso and jointly produced Chrysler TC by Maserati.
Maserati was acquired by Fiat in 1993 which proved a remodeling of the company. In 1998, a new model of Maserati, the Maserati 3200 GT, was launched under the Fiat ownership of the company. It is a two doored coupe powered by the same 3.2 litres V8 engine that powers the Quattroporte IV and Shamal. The engine was tuned to produce a power of 370 hp. This car could reach a top speed of 285 kmph and could accelerate from 0 – 100 kmph in 5.5 seconds. The car uses a manual six speed transmission gear box. A variant called the GTA, with automatic gear box was released in the 2001 Geneva motor show. This model was dropped in 2002 with the replacement of Maserati Spyder and the Maserati coupe. Later they were replaced by Gran Turismo and Gran Cabrio.
Ferrari was Fiat’s sister company of Fiat and a long term rival for the Maserati in sports car. In 1997, Fiat sold a 50 percent share to Ferrari. Ferrari made Maserati into its luxury division in 1999 when it took its full control. Ferrari’s leadership brought Maserati back to its form after long years of dull business and bankruptcy. Ferrari attempted an agreement with Volkswagen for sharing Auid’s Quattro all wheel drive technology with Maserati’s Quattroporte platform. But the agreement was not signed successfully.
A new model of Maserati called Maserati MC12 was introduced in 2004. It is a race car and has a chassis that is similar to the Ferrari Enzo, but longer than that. Another model of the Quattroporte known as the Quattroporte V was also launched in the year 2004. It was deemed as the high end luxury saloon of Maserati. It runs on 4.2 litres V8 engine which is capable of producing a power of 400 PS. It is a large and heavy vehicle, but has a front to rear weight distribution of 43% to 57% making the car good at handling. Till Ferrari redesigned the Modena factory of the Maserati, the facility used only the ancient equipments for the making of the car. Ferrari dropped the older methods and gave a modern and more advanced facility for the Maserati.
In 2002, the Maserati cars were launched in the United States. Under Ferrari’s ownership, Maserati also entered racing car production with its Maserati MC12 and the Trofeo. The cars were designed according to the FIA GT regulations and competed in the FIA GT championship. It won the championship for three consecutive years in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
In 2005, when Fiat considered a rearrangement in its management, Maserati was split from Ferrari and came under the Alfa Romeo, under the direct control of Fiat Auto. The merger caused Maserati and Alfa Romeo sharing parts and equipments but Maserati was functioning in the independent Modena facility in Italy. In the second quarter of 2007, Maserati made a profit statement after 17 years of loss. The sales of the cars were also increased under the Fiat group leadership.
Maserati Gran Turismo:
The Maserati Gran Turismo was launched in the year 2007 in the Geneva Motor show. Powered by a 4.2 litres V8 engine designed jointly with Ferrari, the car can churn out a power of 405 PS. It uses an automatic six speed transmission ZF gear box. The car can carry 4 persons and give much importance to comfort. The variants of the Gran Turismo which are in production now include, Gran Turismo MC Sport line, launched in 2009, Gran Turismo MC Stradale launched in 2011 and a Gran Turismo sport launched in 2012.
Maserati Gran Cabrio:
Gran Cabrio is a convertible version of the Maserati Gran Turismo, with a canvas roof. It uses the same body and seating settings of the Gran Turismo S Automatic, a discontinued variant of the Gran Turismo. GranCabrio was launched in 2009 in the Frankfurt Motor show. Production commenced in 2010. It uses the same 4.7 litres V8 engine as in the Gran Turismo S automatic and produces a power of 434 bhp at 7000 rpm. The maximum torque achieved is 490 Nm at 4750 rpm. The variants of the Gran Cabrio are Gran Cabrio Sport and Gran Cabrio Fendi, both of which were launched in 2011.
The new sixth generation Quatroporte commenced production in November 2012 but was unveiled at the North American International Auto show in January 2013. Three variants of the Quattroporte VI are made available. A V6 and V8 engine variant, built by Ferrari, powers the different variants of the model. The V6 variant is available in a rear wheel drive version and all wheel drive vehicles are available for left hand drive markets. Both the engines produce a same power of 404 bhp and feature a 3 litre cylinders. The V8 engine features a 3.8 litres cylinder which produces a 523 bhp power. The V8 engine model is available only as a Rear wheel drive variant. All the variants use an eight speed automatic transmission ZF gear box.
Maserati has planned production for a smaller saloon than the Quattroporte which will be called the Maserati Ghibli III. This car is expected to start production by the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014. Another model called as the Maserati Kubang, the concept of which was revealed in 2003, is also waiting to be produced.
For details, visit Maserati's official website.