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Maserati was established on December 1, 1914 in Bologna, Italy. The racing and sports car firm is now headquartered in Modena, Italy. The luxury car manufacturer competes directly with Aston Martin and occasionally with German manufacturers Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Maserati has been owned by automotive giant Fiat S.p.A since 1993.
Alfieri, Bindo, Carlo, Ettore, Ernesto and Mario Maserati were connected with cars from the beginning. Alfieri, Bindo and Ernesto began building 2 liter Grand Prix cars for Diatto. When Diatto suspended the production of race cars it led to the beginnings of Maserati. Mario Maserati as the artist of the family designed the trident emblem based off the Fontana del Nettuno, Bologna. The Maserati brothers began designing and producing 4,8,8 and 16 cylinder race cars.
In 1932 Alfieri Maserati died and by 1937 the rest of the Maserati brothers sold their shares in the company to the Adolfo Orsi family. The brothers stayed on as engineers and racing successes continued. In 1939 a Maserati 8CTF won the Indianapolis 500. When World War II broke out, Maserati shifted gears and began producing components for the Italian war effort. Once the war ended Maserati went back to making cars. At which time, old Fiat engineer named Alberto Massimino joined Maserati after experience with Alfa Romeo and Ferrari. Massimino would oversee the design of all Maserati racing models for the next ten years. The last of the original Maserati brothers faded out of the company, going on to form O.S.C.A. Sans Maserati brothers, the team included engineers Giulio Alfieri, Vittorio Bellentani, and Gioacchino Colombo who went on to projects like the 4CLT, the A6 series, the 8CLT and the A6GCM.
With a successful racing career behind them, Maserati retired from factory racing participation and became increasingly focused with road cars. After 1957, chief engineer Giulio Alfieri built the 6 cylinder 3500 two door, two seater coupe. In 1962 Maserati launched the Vignale-bodied Sebring, the Mistrall Coupe followed in 1963, and the Spider in 1964 designed by Pietro Frua. Frua also designed Maserati’s first four door in 1963, the Maserati Quattroporte.
Citroën & De Tomaso Ownership
Citroën was a French automobile manufacturer, founded in 1919 by André Citroën. Citroën was the world’s first firm to mass-produce cars outside of the U.S and in 1968 they purchased Maserati form the Orsi family. Citroën pushed Maserati forward with new models built in much greater numbers than ever before. The first mass-produced mid-engine Maserati was the 1971 Maserati Bora. However, the 1973 oil crisis slowed the ambitious expansion and Citroën went bankrupt in 1974. Maserati was spared thanks to Italian government funds.
A former Argentinian racing driver named Alessandro de Tomaso arranged for his controlling company, Benelli Motorcycle, to purchase Maserati from Citroën in 1975. By 1976 under de Tomaso the Maserati Kyalami and the Maserati Quattroporte III were introduced to market. Maserati worked at liberty with Chrysler which was headed by De Tomaso’s friend Lee Lacocca. Chrysler ended up purchasing part of Maserati and the two companies produced the Crysler TC by Maserati.
Fiat Ownership & Ferrari
In 1993 Fiat purchased Maserati and made substantial investments in the company. Essentially breathing new life into Maserati and a new chapter with the launch of the 3200 GT in 1999. The “Fiat Maserati” was a two-door coupe powered by a 3.2 liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine. The 3200 GT produced 370 horsepower and did zero to 60 in less than 5 seconds at a top speed of 177 miles per hour. The GT was replaced by the Maserati Coupe and Spyder in 2002, both have since been replaced by the GranTurismo.
Fiat sold a 50 percent share of the firm to Maserati’s long time competitor Ferrari in 1997. By 1999 Ferrari took full control of Maserati and built a new factory to replace the existing 1940’s factory. Ironically, Ferrari is credited with putting Maserati back in business after many years on the brink of bankruptcy.
Now back in business and selling successfully on a global basis is the Quattroporte, a high luxury sedan with a 4.2 liter V8 engine. In 2001 Ferrari decided to throw away all the old factory machinery and installed high-tech devices in the Modena factory, making it one of the most sophisticated factories in the world.
In 2005, as a repercussion of the dissolution between Fiat and General Motors in which GM paid Fiat two billion dollars, Maserati was taken from Ferrari and put back under Fiat’s full control. The Fiat Group created a sports and luxury division with Maserati and its other marque, Alfa Romeo. Maserati sold 2,006 cars in the U.S in 2005 increasing to 2,540 cars in 2007. By the second quarter of 2007 Maserati turned profit for the first time in the 17 years under the Fiat Group control.