Since the early 20th century, the Italian manufacturer Maserati has been producing some of the most iconic and beautiful sports cars in the world. The elegance and unique design of the vehicles offered by the automaker conquered the hearts of even the most demanding car enthusiasts, proving the high quality of the Italian automotive industry. Let’s dig even deeper and reveal the history of probably the most exciting and leading automaker in Italy.
Establishing the Company
Around 100 years ago, there lived six siblings in Italy with the surname Maserati. Five were gifted engineers, and three of them—Carlo, Ernesto, and Alfieri—were also successful racers. The sixth, Mario, was an artist, who, by the way, drew the emblem for their family company, borrowed from the trident from the statue of Neptune in the Italian city of Bologna.
The history of Maserati began in 1914, when Alfieri Maserati, along with his brothers Ettore and Ernesto, founded the company in Bologna, Italy. The Maserati brothers were all passionate about cars and racing, and they quickly established themselves as one of the world’s top automotive engineering firms.
During World War I, the brothers’ small workshop produced spark plugs for military equipment. The first sports car with the name Maserati appeared only in 1926, and it was called the Tipo 26. At the heart of the vehicle was a technologically advanced 1.5-liter, eight-cylinder engine that produced 120 hp. As its first racing vehicle, the Maserati workshop manufactured only eleven Tipo 26 cars in Bologna, Italy.
The early years of Maserati were marked by a focus on racing, with the company producing cars that were designed to win on the track. One of the company’s first major successes came in 1926, when a Maserati Tipo 26 driven by Alfieri won the Targa Florio, one of the toughest endurance races of that time.
Further Development of the Maserati Company
After the first exciting success, the brothers actively took up the production of sports cars, which at that time became a real dream for most Italian racing drivers. A great deal of attention was also paid to powerful sports engines, among which was a V-shaped 16-cylinder motor that was unheard of at that time.
In 1929, the 280-hp Maserati Tipo V4 set a world speed record, which no one managed to beat for the next eight years. The car raced a little more than 6 miles (around 10 km) at an average speed of 153 mph (equal to 246 km/h). Despite facing tough competition from other Italian companies like Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, Maserati continued to produce highly competitive racing cars throughout the 1930s.
In 1939, on the eve of the war, the brothers sold their shares to Adolfo Orsi, a well-known businessman and industrialist of that time. He immediately took over the management of the company. And they themselves—already in the role of technical consultants—continued to do what they were best at: continue to create and improve a legendary sports car, having received complete freedom of action and funding.
Unfortunately, the Maserati factory was forced to shut down during World War II, but the company resumed production in the late 1940s. In the years that followed, Maserati continued to be a major force in motorsports, with its cars winning numerous championships and races.
However, the company also began to produce road cars in the 1950s, which helped to establish Maserati as a luxury brand. One of Maserati’s most iconic models is the 3500 GT, which was introduced in 1957. The 3500 configuration was Maserati’s first production car and was designed to compete with the likes of Ferrari and Aston Martin. The car was a success, selling more than 2,000 units over the course of its production run.
In the decades that followed, Maserati continued to produce a range of iconic sports cars, including the Ghibli, the Bora, and the Quattroporte versions. However, the company struggled financially in the 1990s and was eventually acquired by Fiat in 1993. Under Fiat’s ownership, Maserati has continued to produce high-end sports cars, including the GranTurismo and the Quattroporte.
In 2004, Maserati returned to motorsport with the help of Ferrari, establishing a cooperative relationship. Based on the hypercar Ferrari Enzo with a 6-liter V12 under the hood, the team of engineers created an even more exclusive and purely racing car—the Maserati MC12. It was developed specifically for racing in the GT series, and 50 vehicles adapted for public roads were produced and sold.
The history of Maserati is a rich and fascinating one, filled with stories of success, innovation, and passion. From its beginnings as a small engineering firm in Bologna, Italy, to its status as a major luxury brand, Maserati has played an important role in the history of the automotive industry. With its commitment to excellence and dedication to producing some of the world’s most beautiful and powerful cars, Maserati will undoubtedly continue to be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.