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Maserati is an Italian company that specializes in exclusive sports and executive cars production. It’s headquartered in Modena. Currently, the company is owned by Fiat.
In 1914, Alfieri Maserati together with his brothers – Bindo, Ettore, and Ernesto – established the Officine Alfieri Maserati company. The main spheres they worked in were cars design and production, motors and spark plugs manufacture.
Today, it may seem incredible but Maserati was a little-known brand till the 20s, when its cars started to participate in motor racing. By 1926, Alfieri won several races at the wheel of the Maserati Grand Prix 1500. The Tipo 26M racing car, produced between 1930-1932, showed excellent results in VI Premio Reale di Roma, IV Coppa Ciano, VI Coppa Acerbo, VII Gran Premio de España, and the 1930 Grand Prix.
Reaching huge success in motorsport, Maserati became an authoritative automaker in the estimation of the public. The company focused on racing cars production. Autos and engines by Maserati became trendsetters for several decades.
The End of Alfieri’s Era and First Financial Troubles
In 1932, the Maserati family as well as the company they ran was overtaken by a great loss – Alfieri Maserati died. Ernesto managed the company afterwards. He proved to be a truly professional engineer (under his guidance, a number of good engines and a front brake system with hydraulic booster were developed) but not a businessman. In 1938, brothers Maserati had to sell their business to the Orsi family. According to the contract’s terms, the founders could stay at the company in the position of engineers for ten years. With lapse of the period, brothers Maserati set up a new company O.S.C.A. but it failed.
Maserati’s new owners carried the production to Modena and continued to make racing cars.
After the WWII, Maserati team successfully performed in diverse races. In particular, in Formula One, Maserati drivers won titles of the world champions two times. Cars of some other teams were powered by Maserati motors. However, in 1957, the Maserati team was unexpectedly dismissed. Why they made such a decision remains unknown even today. Presumably, the fact that several drivers crashed while participating in races scared the administration. But it cannot be said that Maserati completely left motorsport. The company provided other teams with motors for a long time afterwards.
In 1957, the 3500 GT model was launched and instantly became a best-seller. It was equipped with a 3.5-litre engine with two overhead camshafts and had an elegant body. Its modernized version was the first one in Italy to have a Lucas injection system.
In the 60s, Maserati represented the 5000 GT. Although this model was more expensive than its precursor, it was also more splendid. This car launch made the automaker start to manufacture customized cars. After the chassis were built, they were sent to different coachbuilders where a car’s body was constructed according to a client’s requirements and wishes. That’s why it’s impossible to find two identical 5000 GTs.
When two-door roadsters were out of fashion, Maserati rolled out the Quattroporte model at once. In Great Britain, the Quattroporte was more expensive than a Rolls-Royce car but was in great demand all the same. The reason was that it surpassed the British automaker in driving performance.
In 1966, Maserati together with Giorgetto Giugiaro created a revolutionary body design that was applied in the Ghibli model. The design set all-new standards for a car’s appearance. Soon, all automakers started to adopt it.
Alejandro de Tomaso’s Era
Although new, innovative models were regularly introduced, they couldn’t improve financial affairs of the company that led to selling it to Citroën. However, the consolidation wasn’t as profitable for both automakers as they thought.
In 1975, Alejandro de Tomaso became Maserati’s new owner. Under his supervision, the third generation of the Quattroporte was produced. It was welcomed even more than its precursors.
Moreover, the Biturbo, a compact car powered by a 2-litre double-supercharged engine, was launched. The Biturbo was designed especially for Italy: at the time, cars with engine capacity more than two litres were imposed huge taxes (they were too high even for well-to-do customers). The Biturbo was very popular in Italy. Soon, the car started to be supplied abroad.
Before de Tomaso left Maserati, he managed to represent the Shamal coupe, which got a 3.2-litre 325 hp double-supercharged engine. The auto strengthened the company’s positions in the market.
Another Change of Administration
In 1993, an Italian automobile corporation Fiat took an interest in Maserati. In three years, it bought out 90% of its shares and became its lawful owner.
In 1997, Fiat’s management decided to fuse its two premium brands Maserati and Ferrari into a separate company. To avoid rivalry, the companies produce autos of different classes: Ferrari specializes in sports cars and supercars while Maserati focuses on producing luxurious Grand Turismo vehicles.
Originally, Officine Alfieri Maserati was headquartered in Bologna, the brothers’ native city. There’s the Fountain of Neptune in Piazza Maggiore square here. Neptune’s trident, which symbolizes vigour and strength, became Maserati’s emblem.
An Interesting Fact
There was a period in Maserati’s history when the company tried to come in the market of motor cycles. In the early 50s, the Maserati T2 was launched although it failed to gain popularity as well as all next models. As it turned out, the fact that a company has huge experience in sports cars production doesn’t guarantee that any vehicle it makes will be as successful. That’s why in the 60s, the automaker stopped to manufacture motor cycles. Today, Maserati motor cycles are very valuable and rare; each collector dreams to own the one.
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