Maserati Celebrates 102 Years of Iconic History
The Italian luxury automotive manufacturer, Maserati, was established 102 years ago on December 1, 1914, in Bologna, Italy. Defined by a tagline that says it all, “Luxury, sports, and style cast in exclusive cars,” Maserati has ensured a century-long legacy of pure automotive perfection. Now headquartered in Modena, Italy, Maserati is just as committed to its dedication to the luxury vehicle segment as when the doors first opened. The brand’s mission statement gives further insight into these unwavering ambitions, which outlines its mission to, “Build ultra-luxury performance automobiles with timeless Italian style, accommodating bespoke interiors, and effortless, signature sounding power.”
With the brand’s 102 anniversary taking place earlier this month, we thought it would be appropriate to highlight Maserati’s century-long history of crafting luxury vehicles. Currently, the Maserati consists of the 2017 Levante, 2017 Quattroporte, 2017 GranTurismo, and the 2017 Maserati Ghibli. As impressive as this selection of high-end vehicles is, the current lineup does not reflect where the Italian automaker started, or how it transformed into the luxury leader now known worldwide.
A Look Back at the Maserati Legacy
Alfieri and Ettore were the two founding brothers of the Maserati brand. Kicking off just before WWI made its way into Italy, the project was put on a brief hiatus as both men were called into active military duty. The Italian government recognized Alfieri and Ettore’s unique mechanical skills, and enlisted them to design and produce special spark plugs for aircraft engines during the war. Not only did this keep the brothers far from the front lines, but it also allowed them to continue to perfect their technical expertise. After the war ended, the brothers opened up their first workshop in an old bottle factory, and focused their efforts on improving engine spark plugs for cars.
- 1920: After successfully improving upon car engine spark plugs, brothers Alfieri, Ernesto, and Ettore poured all of their energy into crafting the first Maserati model. While the fourth Maserati brother, Mario, knew nothing about cars, he was a well trained artist who was called to design the luxury brand’s logo. Choosing to use the statue of Neptune located in the Piazza Maggiore in Bologna as his inspiration, Mario created the Maserati brand symbol of strength in the form of a trident.
- 1930s: After spending most of his post-war time designing the first Maserati and various engines, Alfieri died during surgery in 1932. As a renowned racecar driver, Alfieri’s death was felt around the country, with many notable drivers attending his service. From the time of Alfieri’s death, Maserati focused its sole efforts on the world of racing, and spent the next decade in the circuit.
- 1940s: Prior to the start of WWII, the Maserati brothers made the decision to sell the company to Adolfo Orsi, a famous Italian entrepreneur. The three brothers remained with the company as managers, and continued to advance the brand. During the war, race-car production ceased at Maserati, and the brand focused all of its energy into producing spark plugs and other components to help the war effort. In 1942, the first Maserati GranTurismo was unveiled at the Geneva Car Show, marking the first model produced for the public. After the war ended, the Maserati brothers were free to continue producing racecars, which they spent the next few decades doing.
- 1963: The idea to place a Maserati racing engine into a luxury sedan was first suggested by a journalist named Gino Rancati. Maserati liked the idea, and surprised the world when it debuted the Quattroporte sedan at the Turin Motor Show. Impressing everyone who saw it, the first Quattroporte embodied pure power and high-end luxury that the brand is now known for.
- 1960-1980: Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro was well known in the country for his exclusive and high-end designs, and Maserati commissioned his expertise on the V8 powered Ghibli. The reception of the Ghibli was very successful, with more than 1,000 models produced in coupe and Spyder form. The rest of the 1960s and 1970s were focused on creating more luxurious Maserati models with sculpted, athletically toned exterior bodies. In 1978, that effort paid off when the Italian Head of State, Sandro Pertini, chose a Maserati Quattroporte Royale as his official car.
- 1980s: After the Quattroporte earned worldwide attention when Italy’s president selected it as his official car, the sedan made its way onto the big screen in various Hollywood hits. Known for elegant luxury and renowned style, the Maserati Quattroporte was the car everyone wanted to own, but only a select few could afford.
- 1990s: In 1993, Maserati was acquired by the Fiat Group – a notable partnership between two companies that were once rivals, as Fiat owned Maserati’s top competitor, Ferrari.
- 2000s: Toward the end of the 1990s, Maserati returned sales to the United States, but those wouldn’t completely take off until 2001. Celebrating its return to the US, Maserati unveiled the new Spyder model at a gala for the Italian American Cancer Foundation in 2001. Earning a winning bid of $130,000, the Maserati Spyder went to an Italian banker who was residing in New York at the time of the auction. In 2003, Italian designer Pininfarina was commissioned to redesign the Quattroporte, which was later released and, ultimately, enjoyed highly successful sales numbers. He was again asked to recreate the Quattroporte in 2007, which earned the model various awards and prestigious accolades.
- 2014: The Alfieri Concept Car made its debut at the Geneva Auto Show in 2014, and reconfirmed the brand’s commitment to premium performance in the race car world.
- Today: Maserati now boasts both a rich racing heritage, along with four solid luxury models marketed to the everyday driver. Offered to customers around the world, Maserati isn’t just a name recognized in its home country of Italy, but on all continents throughout the globe.
Whether the history of the Maserati brand was a surprise to you or not, it is one filled with tradition, class, and prestige. From a small town in Italy, to the presidential fleet of cars, to the Hollywood big screen and beyond, the past 102 years have been incredibly evolutionary for Maserati, and we can’t wait to see where the brand arrives 100 years from today.