Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Maserati is a famous Italian manufacturer of racing cars and sports cars, established in 1914 in Bologna. The company's headquarters are now in Modena, and their emblem is a trident. Today, Maserati is owned directly by the Italian car giant Fiat, after having been a part of Ferrari (a company in which Fiat has a majority stake) for some years.
The company was founded by Alfieri Maserati, one of seven Maserati brothers, all but one of whom were involved in the development of cars. The seventh brother, Mario, an artist, is believed to have devised the company emblem. Alfieri Maserati died in 1932 but three other brothers, Bindo, Ernesto and Ettore, kept the firm going, and winning races.
In 1937 the remaining Maserati brothers sold their shares in the company to the Orsi family, who in 1940 relocated the company headquarters to their hometown of Modena, where it remains to this day. The brothers continued in engineering roles with the company, however. Racing successes continued, even against the giants of German racing, Auto Union and Mercedes. In 1940 a Maserati won the Indianapolis 500, a feat repeated the following year.
The war then intervened, Maserati abandoning cars to produce components for the Italian war effort.
Once peace was restored, Maserati returned to making cars, doing well in the post-war racing scene. The famous Argentinian driver Juan-Manuel Fangio raced for Maserati for a number of years in the 1950s, producing a number of stunning victories including winning the world championship in 1957. After that, Maserati retired from factory racing participation, though it built racing cars to be raced by others after that date.
After 1957, Maserati became more and more focussed on road cars, including the Maserati Sebring , launched in 1962, the Maserati Mistral Coupť (1963) and the Spider (1964), both designed by Pietro Frua, and their first four-door, the Maserati Quattroporte (1963), also designed by Pietro Frua.
In 1968 came a great change - purchase by CitroŽn. Adolfo Orsi remained the nominal president, but Maserati changed a great deal. New models were launched, and built in much greater numbers than hitherto. CitroŽn borrowed Maserati expertise and engines for the CitroŽn SM and other vehicles, and Maseratis incorporated CitroŽn technology also, particularly in hydraulics.
New models included the Maserati Bora, the first mass-produced mid-engined Maserati, in 1971, and the Maserati Merak and Maserati Khamsin soon afterwards. The 1970s oil crises, however, put the brakes on this ambitious expansion - suddenly, the demand for fuel-thirsty sports cars shrank. On May 23, 1973, CitroŽn declared that Maserati was in liquidation. Propped up by Italian government funds, the company stayed alive, if barely.
1975 saw the company back on its feet with Alessandro de Tomaso, an Argentinian former racing driver, the new managing director. De Tomaso had arranged for the Benelli motorcycle company, which he controlled, to buy Maserati from CitroŽn and install him as its head. New models were introduced in 1976, including the Maserati Kyalami and the Maserati Quattroporte III.
The 1980s saw the company largely abandoning the mid-engined sports car in favour of squarish, front-engined, rear-drive coupes, cheaper than before but with aggressive performance, like the Maserati Biturbo .
In 1999 a new chapter began in Maserati's history when the company launched the 3200GT , the only "Fiat Maserati". This two-door coupť is powered by a 3.2 L twin-turbocharged V8 which produces 370 bhp (276 kW); the car does 0-60 mph in less than 5 seconds. Its top speed is an amazing 285 km/h (177 mph). Production of this car ceased in 2002.
Ferrari and Volkswagen
In 1997, Fiat sold a 50% share in the company to Maserati's long-time arch-rival Ferrari (though this was, and is, itself controlled by Fiat). In 1999 Ferrari took full control, making Maserati its performance and luxury division. A new factory was built, replacing the existing 1940s-vintage facility.
More recently, Maserati has signed an agreement with Volkswagen for the German company to share its Audi division's Quattro all-wheel-drive technology (originally meant for the still-born Maserati Kubang sport-utility vehicle concept) for Maserati's current Quattroporte platform. The agreement has been made on the condition that there will be no corporate espionage or reverse engineering, since Volkswagen owns two of Ferrari's direct rivals, Lamborghini and Bugatti.
In 2005, as a consequence of the termination of the agreement between Fiat and General Motors under which GM may have been obliged to buy Fiat's car division, Maserati was separated from Ferrari and brought back under Fiat's full control. Fiat plans to create a sports and luxury division from Maserati and another of its marques, Alfa Romeo.
Present production includes:
- Spyder convertible
- Coupe a two-seater coupe
- Quattroporte (Italian for four-door), a luxury four-door sedan
Maseratis are once again being sold in the lucrative United States market, and the company has also re-entered the racing arena with their Trofeo and, in December 2003, the Maserati MC12 (formerly known as the MCC), which took part in select GT races in 2004. The MC12 is based on the Ferrari Enzo supercar; 50 street-legal homologation models will be sold for about US$750,000 each.
- Official Website
- Maserati History
- Maserati types & models overview
- Maserati Types & Models Factory Brochure Archive
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