One of the main features of Motorclassica was a celebration of Maserati’s 100th anniversary, with a display of 18 Maseratis from 1956 A6G’s to a brand new Ghibli sedan. There were also a pair of OSCA coupes, and the Maserati Club was out in force in the outdoor display area too, with another 12 cars. I trust you’ll forgive me for ignoring the new cars while taking a brief tour through Maserati’s fascinating history.
The earliest car present was a tie between a A6G/2000 coupe and a 150S racer. The former is an evolution of the first Maserati road car introduced in 1946 with a straight six engine was derived from a prewar supercharged grand prix racer of only 1488cc in capacity with a tiny 2.6”/66mm bore and 65 bhp. By 1954 it was bored out to 1986cc, gained a second camshaft and doubled the horsepower. Maserati sold the cars as rolling chassis, here the Spider is a Pininfarina body, I didn’t note what coachbuilder built the coupe.
The 150S was Maserati’s smallest sports racing car, with a 1.5L four that had a hemi head and twin plug ignition. This car was sold new in California and later upgraded with a works 250S engine. It looks pretty similar to the bigger-engined cars, and is a classic mid-50’s racer.
Of course when you talk about iconic racing cars, the Maserati 250F is right up there, as it is one of the best ever front-engined Grand Prix cars. The 250F has a connection with Melbourne because they raced in period at the Albert Park Grand Prix of 1955, 56 and 57. The car has a 2.5L 6-cyl, transaxle gearbox and De Dion rear end. This car is actually one of 10 built from leftover factory parts in the 1960s, but is completely accurate to the factory cars – 1957 lightweight with 270hp in this case. I think it is a bit churlish to deride the car for being a replica when only 26 original cars were built by the factory.
We still have one race car left but first there is the 1957 3500GT, which had a new 3.5L (213ci) twin cam six making 220 bhp and a new leaf-sprung suspension. This time all the coupes were done by Touring – surely it was better to have one great-looking body style rather than some of the less attractive variants that were put on some of the earlier cars.
The 1959 Tipo 61 is more well-known by its nickname of “Birdcage”, and in this shot you can see some of the 200 chassis tubes that led to the name. It was powered by a 3-litre version of the twin cam 4-cylinder fed by two 48mm Webers. This car was part of the on-track historic car feature at this year’s Grand Prix.
Chronologically it is now time to make a sidetrack into the OSCA 1600 coupes the Maserati brothers built years after they left their company after it was taken over by Adolfo Orsi, to go back to building racing cars. They were only built in tiny numbers, and particularly rare is the white 1-of-3 Fissore-bodied version. The red car is by Boneschi. I thought the alloy wheels were a surprising design for 1961, and they look much more modern. Styling-wise the Fissore car was rather plain with a tall body, especially in the roofline. Perhaps someone involved was especially tall? The Boneschi car has some rather unorthodox body contours that detract from its overall sleekness.
Getting back to Maseratis, while I didn’t get a photo of the light grey Sebring coupe here is the twin-cam inline 6-cylinder engine. Note the small pipes on the far side, which are part of the fuel injection system.
The last straight six Maserati was the Mistral, seen here in spider form with an uncharacteristically bright yellow colour. The coupe displays a typical side window and roofline treatment of the carosserie Frua who built the car (as well as the rather similar AC 428).
Now we are into the V8 era which kicked off in 1963 with the Quattroporte as spotted recently by Jim Klein. Unfortunately there weren’t any of those at the show, nor its Mexico coupe companion, but there were several of my favourite Maserati – the Ghibli! This used a shortened version of the chassis shared by all three cars, and styling by Giugiaro. The lines are fairly simple but not exactly subtle, and there is a nice execution of the signature Maserati grille.
The powerplant of course was a highlight, being much more powerful than the other incarnations at 330 bhp from the 4.7L (288ci) capacity courtesy of quad cams and quad Webers. The Ghibli was most definitely a Grand Tourer rather than a sports car due to its size and weight, but with a top speed of 165mph the performance was there.
The next Maserati was a proper 4-seater, and while the Indy featured the same Quattroporte-based chassis it was welded to the body. The rear seat forced some compromises in the shape, and while it is still an attractive car you wouldn’t call it sexy. Perhaps the rear three-quarter view is its best angle. It started with a 4.1L version of the quad cam V8, but larger versions were installed later.
Maserati joined the mid-engined movement with the V8 Bora of 1971, and because the company were now owned by Citroen the power seats, adjustable pedals and pop-up headlights were all hydraulically operated. Unfortunately there wasn’t a Bora at the show, but its little brother the V6 Merak was present. The only pictures I have of it are shots from the upstairs gallery.
Maserati weren’t finished with traditional front-engined GT cars though as the Khamsin demonstrates. This was styled by Gandini, built by Bertone and while the mechanicals were similar to its predecessors the car was now of unitary construction. The styling is appropriately dramatic, particularly the plexiglass rear panel with floating tail lights as can be seen in the title photo of this article.
There were a couple of late Biturbo cars in the club area, a 222 4v and what looked like one of the very last 2.24 4v II cars, that had a DOHC four valve 2.8L engine. These aren’t especially pretty cars, but they certainly have a purposeful appearance. I wonder if these late model versions are more reliable than the notorious earlier cars? The 4th-generation Quattroporte is another Gandini design with the signature rear wheel arch shape and twin-turbo V6 or V8 power.
Back inside was a Shamal, which is the ultimate Biturbo-era car with a 3.2L V8 putting out 325 hp and 320 lb-ft, and giving 0-60 in the low 5 second range. The car has an extraordinary aero kit including a spoiler at the base of the windshield but surely the brougham-like band over the roof can‘t have any aerodynamic benefit. The Shamal also had an electronic active suspension developed with Koni, and only 369 of these cars were built during its 7-year production run.
There were some newer cars present, including a 3200GT with the boomerang tail lights and some of the newer Gran Sport coupes and one of the new Ghibli sedans (I wonder if Maserati purists freak out about that as much as Charger fans?), but they are perhaps a bit too new for CC just yet. Instead I will indulge another view of the gorgeous Ghibli. Next up, time for something (actually quite a few things) different!