Earlier this year, as we were driving south of Denver. I looked in the rear-view mirror and got more excited than normal–the reason being that I saw a very rare sight indeed. As I handed my wife my cellphone and told her to start shooting pictures, I moved over a lane to let the car pass. As it drew abreast, I realized it was a first-generation Maserati Quattroporte.
Quattroportes are rare in general but this one got me even more excited, as it was clearly not a garage queen. While not very obvious in these pictures, this one was dimpled with hail damage, which is not uncommon around here, especially in the last few years. Added to that, the paint was not particularly lustrous and the car was smoking when off the gas (as seen in the picture below). But it did make a wonderful noise and had more presence than anything else on I-25 that morning. And the name! How can “four door” sound so good, even in Italian? I just like saying it, all of a sudden every car sounds more appealing – Hey look, a Hyundai Sonata Quattroporte! And over there, an Oldsmobile Ciera Quattroporte! I could go on all day…
As I did some basic research I came to realize how rare this car really was. Produced between 1963 and 1969, less than 800 examples left the factory in Modena. Though designed by Frua, bodies were made by Vignale; however, some of that production was then further farmed out to O.To.Car by Vignale. There are Series I as well as Series II versions (although some people claim that there is also a Series II.5), the major change between Series I and II being the engine (4.1L V8 vs. 4.7L V8), while further minor changes distinguish the Series II.5 .
Maserati being a very small manufacturer, many production items were bought from other manufacturers (obviously, a situation which with larger companies still exists to this day): Gearbox by ZF, brakes from Girling, ashtrays from BMW, many switches from Alfa Romeo, first-series headlights from Citroen’s Ami 6, etc., all put together in Modena, where the chassis and engine were built in-house. By the way, those who claim to be able to distinguish the different series by the headlights are wrong, as one could order quad US headlights for the first series as well.
This car was considered the fastest four door available during its production years, and looks so even at the relatively sedate 55 mph we were driving that day. It’s a shame I couldn’t get a picture of the front, as I probably prefer that angle to all others; still, I’m happy with what I got (this shot is from the Web). It certainly served to make our mundane drive quite a bit more interesting and exciting. (Much of my information came from the excellent tipo107.com website that maintains a thorough registry of these cars, along with many pictures and additional information.)