Highs and lows, and back to highs, from 1968 to the present day
The Giugiaro-designed Bora, the first mass-produced mid-engined Maserati, was presented at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show; Maserati also built the occasional racing car engine, and that same year, a Citroën SM with a Maserati engine won the Morocco Rally.
With the launch of the Merak and Khamsin, Maserati’s production continued apace. But in 1973 the Yom Kippur War sparked the Oil Crisis, making life increasingly uncertain for the company, although it still had enough vitality to introduce both the Quattroporte II prototype, bodied by Bertone, and the Merak SS.
The situation worsened, and on 23 May, Citroën announced that Maserati had gone into liquidation (the French car maker had signed an agreement with Peugeot but had lost interest in Maserati). Pressure from the industrialists’ association and the local and provincial councils succeeded in persuading the government to intervene, and Maserati avoided closure by handing over control to GEPI (a government agency that financed companies in difficulty in order to save jobs).
In an agreement signed on 8 August, 1975, most of the company's share capital was acquired by the Benelli company, and Alejandro De Tomaso, a former racing driver from Argentina who had also competed for Maserati, became Managing Director. De Tomaso managed to get the company off the ground again, albeit with difficulty, and by 1976 he had launched a new model, the Kyalami, presenting the Quattroporte III, designed by Giugiaro, soon after at the Turin Motor Show. By the end of the year, output had significantly increased.
The 1980s saw the production of a new type of car, with a relatively low purchase price but impressive performance: the Biturbo, of which over 30 different versions appeared, in coupé, 4-door sedan and spyder forms.
The turning point for Maserati came in 1993, when the company's entire share capital was acquired by Fiat Auto. A year later the first new arrival under Fiat ownership appeared in the form of the Quattroporte. Designed by Marcello Gandini, it boasted all of the refinement, luxury and sportiness for which the marque was renowned. On 1 July, 1997 Fiat sold Maserati to Ferrari, and a new era began for the company. That year the historical plant in Viale Ciro Menotti, Modena closed temporarily while an ultra-modern assembly line was installed, to produce a new car, the 3200 GT.
The 3200 GT was presented to the public at the 1998 Paris Motor Show, and proved to be a thoroughbred, front-engined GT in the best Maserati tradition. It was joined that same year by the Quattroporte Evoluzione, and production soon exceeded 2,000 cars a year.
The complete reorganisation of the marketing network and the expansion of the plant, where new management offices were built, gave further momentum to the renewal process in 2000. The following year the new Spyder appeared, unveiled for the first time at the Frankfurt Motor Show, during which Maserati also announced its intention to return to the North American market. This decision was confirmed in January 2002, when the Coupé made its world debut at the Detroit Motor Show. Like the Spyder, it introduced a number of important innovations, from a new 4,200 cc 390-bhp V8 engine co-developed with Ferrari, to its suspension, chassis and F1-style gearbox, also making use of Ferrari racing technology.
Besides returning to the most important markets with high-class and sophisticated models, Maserati also made a successful comeback to the world of racing thanks to the MC12 (in the FIA GT and ALMS championships), the Trofeo (in the single-make series for gentlemen drivers in Europe and Brazil) and the Trofeo Light (in the Italian GT and the Grand-Am series). To date the MC12 has amassed 6 different Championship titles, securing its place as one of the greatest modern race cars and a fitting continuation of Maserati's racing heritage.
In September 2003 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the car that would be at the centre of Maserati’s unstoppable growth was launched: the Maserati Quattroporte. The new Maserati sedan enjoyed immediate success in terms of sales and has also earned many prizes and widespread praise from clients, readers and journalists around the world.
2005 was a record year for Maserati, with 5,659 cars sold worldwide. This was an increase of 22.8% from the equally impressive 2004, and the natural confirmation of the measures taken in 1998, when only 518 vehicles were sold.
Great satisfaction also came from Maserati’s reparto corse. The incredible work of this team allowed Maserati to claim the Constructors’ Cup and Team Vitaphone (Maserati) the team title. Maserati’s one-two finish at the Spa 24 Hours was truly unforgettable.
The Trofeo Light also secured a number of titles and wins, dominating the GT3 class of the Italian GT championship. The company’s vitality is strengthened by the success of its single-make series, now into its fourth year in Europe and its third in Brazil.
In early 2005, ownership of Maserati was transferred from Ferrari to Fiat, which allowed the two marques to achieve important industrial and commercial synergies with Alfa Romeo. Close technical and commercial collaboration within the group has provided Maserati with the impetus to position itself as the leader in its sector. It has also broadened its presence throughout the international markets thanks to models including the GranSport, the GranSport Spyder, and the MC Victory, developed to celebrate successes in the FIA GT series. In 2007, above all, Maserati’s impressive performance was mainly thanks to the GranTurismo.
The GranTurismo is a car that can be used everyday. It has superb handling and a sporty, captivating ride. At the same time, on board comfort is not ignored and the choice of materials, the attention to detail, and the generous interior space that comfortably seats four adults, are all features that make it a true leader in its class. The international press deemed the car an immediate success and lavished it with praise as it made the covers of countless magazines.
Maserati continues to excel in the world of competition and recently claimed all four titles on offer in the GT1 Class of the 2007 FIA GT International championship, adding to the Manufacturers' Cup won in 2005 and continuing the winning trend following the Team and Drivers’ titles from 2006.
2008 saw the introduction of the GranTurismo S and the refreshed Quattroporte and new Quattroporte S - models that look set to continue the spectacular success of Maserati not only in Australia and New Zealand, but globally.