Maserati: A Saga of an Italian Excellence



You know you made it when you have a Maserati! Over the years, the Italian top-dollar Maserati managed to be more than just a car; it is an attribute to your social status, love for cars and much more.

From the beginning of the 20th century to the present day, everyone has been in awe of the story of the Italian family behind the household name car, who helped raise the Italian flag around the world.

More than 100 years have passed since the birth of the Italian company Maserati, a car manufacturer that spreads sophistication, grace and the essence of Italian style around the world.

The history of Maserati is a story of a family with an undying passion for innovation and hard work. It is the story of brothers who overcame so much hardship to make their dream come true…… It is a story of THE Maserati!

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How it all Began!

It is 1887, and we are in Voghera, a small town in the province of Pavia, when Alfieri Maserati was born, the fourth of seven brothers, the eldest of whom died a few months later. These are his brothers’ names: Carlo, Bindo, Mario, Ettore and Ernesto. Alfieri worked from an early age as a mechanic, first for bicycles and later for cars. His eldest brother Carlo guided and instructed him, and it was thanks to him that Alfieri was able to begin his real career in the world of mechanics.

He moved to Milan and began working for Isotta Fraschini, a car manufacturer known for designing and producing some of the most luxurious and prestigious cars in history. He started out in humble jobs and then worked his way up to the “Racing Department”, where he finally took charge of the mechanics. But Alfieri was also a skilled racing driver. With a prototype car he designed, he managed to achieve numerous victories, demonstrating great skill.

For Isotta Fraschini, Alfieri travelled the world; he was sent to Argentina and England before returning to Italy, Bologna, where the Maserati story began.

After more than ten years at the service of Isotta Fraschini, Alfieri decided to aim for independence. In 1914 he founded the Alfieri Maserati repair workshop in Bologna, ‘Società Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati’ in Bologna and was joined by his brothers. But the real business began towards the end of 1918 when Italy emerged from the First World War.

The First Car

Fuelled by the great successes in racing, in which Alfieri took part both as a driver and mechanic, in 1926, after extensive engineering studies, the first original Maserati creation came out: the Tipo 26.

Tipo 26 was a victorious, high-performance automobile. With the Tipo 26, Alfieri participated in the Targa Florio, the world’s oldest and most important automobile race.

With the Tipo 26, Alfieri Maserati managed to win many races as a driver and set many records. In 1927, during a race in Sicily, he had a bad accident with his Tipo 26 that caused him to lose the use of one of his kidneys. On 3 March 1932, he died from complications following the accident.

The second Maserati creation, the V4, was much more powerful and faster than the first, seen in the light of day in 1929. Another success for the Alfieri Maserati company was demonstrated by its victory in the Tripoli Grand Prix in 1930. From then on, the company would design and produce even higher-performance cars.

The Logo

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The special feature of the Tipo 26 was the presence of the famous Maserati logo for the first time ever. The design of the logo was entrusted to Mario Maserati, who, of all the brothers, was the least passionate about cars.

In fact, Mario had little interest in engines as the other brothers, so he decided to pursue an artistic career. He studied at the Brera Academy and became a painter. When the time came to reveal the Tipo 26, Alfieri asked Mario to come up with a logo representing the Maserati car and their family name on the roads. Little did they know that the logo would represent the family name for over a hundred years to come!

To be able to draw the best possible logo, Mario needed the right inspiration and tried to find it by walking around the centre of Bologna. Rumour has it that it was a rainy day like any other, and Mario was strolling quietly through the streets of a gloomy but still fascinating Bologna, looking for the longed-for inspiration. At a certain point, he found himself in one of the most beautiful squares in the city: Piazza del Nettuno.

The name comes from the fountain in the square’s centre, the Fountain of Neptune. Thanks to this fountain, the car manufacturer’s famous logo was born. What struck Mario Maserati the most was the trident wielded by the god Neptune, and that is how the world-famous Maserati trident came to life!

Maserati: The Challenge of the Economic Crisis

Due to the consequences of the accident with Tipo 26, Alfieri died in 1932, leaving the company in the hands of his brothers. This was to be the first of Maserati’s great challenges, but it formed the basis of the company’s character and personality.

In 1937 the company was sold to Adolfo Orsi, and its headquarters were moved from Bologna to Modena, where it still stands today. The purchase had one constraint: the Maserati brothers were to stay and work in the company. Orsi was an Italian entrepreneur born and raised in Modena to a modest family. Little Adolfo had a difficult childhood caused by his father’s death when he was 11 years old.

After the outbreak of World War II caused another setback for the company, Maserati restarted car production and presented a new Grand Touring car: the A6 1500, at the Geneva Motor Show. The A6 1500 was the first Maserati-branded car intended exclusively for everyday road use, and its elegance, mixed with sportiness, made it a huge success.

It is worth mentioning that 1939 was a pivotal year for the business. In May that year, Wilbur Shaw, one of the most victorious drivers the United States had ever known, won the Indianapolis 500, one of the most prestigious races of the time. He was behind the wheel of the “Boyle Special” 8 CTF, a single-seater car designed by Ernesto Maserati, with 366 horsepower and a top speed of 290 km/h.

A Break From Racing

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Despite the countless victories of Maserati vehicles, the company withdrew from racing in 1957 due to the economic difficulties after the Tragedy of Guidizzolo, which is one of the most tragic events in the history of car racing.

The tragedy occurred during the last edition of the Mille Miglia race before it was banned. There was a fatal crash of a 4.0-litre Ferrari 335 S, which was driven by the Spanish Alfonso de Portago, who died because of the accident. Along with Alfonso, his co-driver Edmund Nelson and nine spectators, including five children, also died in the tragic crash.

To cope with a crisis affecting the car company, Adolfo Orsi was forced to divest Maserati’s racing department and thus abandon the Formula One championship, concentrating exclusively on the production of road cars.

The 1960s were fruitful years, with growing production that allowed Maserati to establish itself as one of the most prestigious car manufacturers in the world. With plans for the future construction of a large French-Italian group, Maserati passed under the control of Citroën, who began using its engines and cutting-edge technology. The collaboration lasted less than ten years, culminating in the liquidation of Citroën’s industry in 1975.

The Economic Boom

At the turn of the 1950s and 1960s, Italy found itself facing years of economic boom. These were the years when the desire to live and enjoy beauty exploded, and it was during this period Maserati became one of the icons of the so-called ‘Dolce Vita’ (the sweet life), thanks above all to the class and beauty of its cars.

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This began in 1963 when the first Quattroporte was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show. The Quattroporte, which has its 6th generation now, was born from the idea of fitting a racing engine to a saloon, introducing a whole new category to the market: the luxury sports saloon.

In 1966, however, the Turin Motor Show saw the unveiling of the car that is still considered Maserati’s pride and joy to this day: the Maserati Ghibli, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, one of the most iconic designers in history.

The Legendary 1980s

In the mythical 1980s, the then President of the Italian Republic, Sandro Pertini, a great patriot and nationalist, chose the Quattroporte as his presidential car.

But behind this news lies a fact that caused quite a stir in the 1980s. It was 1983, and the current President of the Republic, Sandro Pertini, was visiting Maranello, home of Ferrari, for a meeting with Enzo Ferrari, founder of the car manufacturer of the same name.

Enzo Ferrari was waiting for the President at the entrance of the factory. But when he saw President Pertini arrive, everything changed. When Enzo Ferrari realised that a Maserati car was entering the factory driveway, he froze. He stood utterly still, refusing even to go and open the door for the President.

The incident had reawakened in him an ancient rivalry between Ferrari and Maserati, which, although old, was still too heated to be forgotten, although Ferrari and Maserati had not clashed on the racetrack for so long.

In December 1989, following a deep crisis of the Maserati brand, Fiat took over the company. It did something no one would have ever imagined. Fiat created a partnership between Ferrari and Maserati, thus unravelling the historical rivalry between the two manufacturers!

A New Maserati House

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Starting from a disadvantageous situation, Maserati launched new models in 2001, opening up new markets. On 11 September 2001, the Spyder was presented to the US market, which in just a year became Maserati’s biggest market in the world, and still is today.

Since 2013 it has been the former Bertone factory in Turin that hosts Maserati car production. New models include the Quattroporte and Ghibli.

The Now and Future

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Today, Maserati has been going through a period of profound renewal, embracing new technologies and new markets in the name of a design and philosophy of complete continuity and coherence that has united the Maserati brothers over time.

Maserati’s development, over the years, has not only reached heights of success and prestige but also and above all, has been industrial, considering the evolution in design, performance and the decision to favour quality over quantity.

Maserati produces few car models but is still the most prestigious brand among sports cars and luxury saloons par excellence, with a market presence in over 60 countries. Despite everything, the name Maserati remains synonymous with class, speed, and sophistication!

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