Archive for May, 2007
Maserati has been ruthless in its pursuit of excellence in every single component it fits to its cars. Around 10 percent of Maserati’s production staff is dedicated to maintaining exceptional levels of quality, and each stage in the production process is minutely scrutinised.
The GranTurismo has taken this fastidious tradition to a new level, attaining the highest standards of quality ever reached by the Modenese company.
Maserati’s advanced quality-control procedures benefit from an unusually close relationship with its suppliers. These suppliers are continually checked – and that means both the parts they supply and also the production process they employ. The aim is to perfect the already excellent quality of Maseratis through the strict control of the entire supply system, from the prestigious materials Maserati uses on the interior to the highly advanced mechanical components.
Twenty GranTurismos were dedicated to extensive and exhaustive development, endurance and reliability testing. These tests were conducted over hundreds of thousands of kilometres on a variety of roads all over the world. They were aimed at examining how the Modenese sports car performed in all conditions, and the engineering teams simulated – and even exaggerated – every type of driving condition.
Every one of the hundreds of tests had a specific aim. These aims ranged from the development of the product, its durability, reliability, safety, performance and handling in all road conditions.
The hottest areas of Spain and South Africa were the setting for the brake tests, and these climates put the car under immense stress through a combination of heat, the rises and falls in the terrain and the presence of sand. This climate, where it often touches more than 40ºC, is also useful for validating the climate control system.
Greece, with its warm climate and windy roads, is the ideal test bed for verifying the engine’s reliability and wear, while the icy avenues and lakes of Scandinavia are used as a way to develop the electronics that manage the low-grip safety features.
Every Maserati has a sporty soul, and this is why the GranTurismo was test driven on the most famous circuits in Europe, including the Nürburgring. The objective was to fine-tune the handling, one of the strengths of all vehicles produced by Maserati. Each track, depending on its particular characteristics, was selected to fully stress and torture the GranTurismo’s components. Estoril and Vallelunga were chosen for tyre tests, Nardò for outright performance, braking and handling at high speed, while Vallelunga and Fiorano were used for road-holding tests.
Maserati constantly monitors the expectation levels of its customers and continually surveys the satisfaction standards of those who own and drive its vehicles. The testers and engineers paid particular attention to the comfort levels of GranTurismo, and it has set new standards in its category. The extremely challenging production process and severe checks applied to every component in the car mean that the GranTurismo is the peak of Maserati quality.
Active safety encompasses all of a car’s abilities to avoid impacts in the first place. The Active safety of the Maserati GranTurismo is very advanced. It was developed to combine extremely stable and balanced road holding with extraordinary performance. Completing the package is the highest level of electronic Active safety measures, in place to help limit damage and avoid potentially dangerous situations.
The excellent dynamics of the GranTurismo is the culmination of a long tradition of handling excellence by the Modenese company. Its core chassis poise is further enhanced by the Maserati Stability Programme (MSP); developed by Maserati to help optimise the GranTurismo’s reactions and safety engineering, even for moderately skilled drivers.
The MSP activates to correct even small skids by reducing torque and, at the same time, integrating Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) to prevent the wheels locking or skidding under braking. It does this in part by redistributing the braking forces between the front and rear axles. This means that the drive wheels do not lose grip, improving traction in slippery conditions, and the front wheels always retain the ability to steer the car. The GranTurismo’s brakes are on a par with the quickest supercars on the market. Brembo supply the braking hardware, including four self-ventilating discs and powerful four-piston brake callipers. These provide excellent stopping figures (35 metres from 100km/h to a standstill, with an average deceleration of 1.24 g). The brakes are also highly resistant to fade. The Electric Park Brake (EPB), located on the central tunnel, replaces the traditional handbrake. The EPB is engaged automatically whenever the engine is switched off and is deactivated automatically when the accelerator pedal is pressed. EPB also plays an important role in terms of safety as it is designed to act on all four wheels in an emergency without compromising stability, until the switch is released.
Night-time visibility is enhanced by the potent clarity of bi-xenon headlights. Bi-xenon technology produces a more powerful and natural-looking beam of light than conventional lighting technology. Further, the GranTurismo’s rotating headlights mean that the beam mirrors the turning of the steering wheel, focusing the light towards the inside of the curve.
The Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is another useful technical advance to be included on Maserati’s latest sports car. The system constantly monitors the tire pressure from inside the tyre and the driver is advised when either the pressure dips below optimal levels or a tyre is punctured.
The high-resistance, boxed-sheet steel construction gives the chassis its incredible rigidity. This feature translates into a precise drive and dynamic handling, factors that set any driver’s mind at ease when he sits behind the wheel of the GranTurismo. A sense of security and control over the car are the sensations Maserati has tried to transmit to the driver.
The weight distribution is as close to the rearward bias of Formula One and FIA GT racing as front-engined road cars get, and the GranTurismo carries over the Quattroporte’s philosophy of having a slight bias over the rear axle. This bias (49% front- 51% rear) and the low centre of mass (obtained by positioning the engine as close as possible to the ground) translates into superb braking and road holding under acceleration, especially in low grip conditions. Perceived from the driving seat, the handling is predictable, swift and ‘true’.
Maserati has developed the GranTurismo with express active safety aims of offering the driver complete control of the vehicle and assisting the driver with the most advanced electronics to help the car and its occupants remain safe, even in emergency situations.
Passive safety includes all the features a car has to allow its occupants to survive an impact. The GranTurismo’s entire passive safety system has been designed by Maserati around its most important elements: the driver and passengers.
The GranTurismo’s passenger safety cell is strong, rigid and is also protected with six airbags that are designed to work in conjunction with the occupant’s seatbelts. There are driver and passenger two-stage front airbags, two more in the doors for side-impact protection and another two integrated into the sides of the seats.
If the GranTurismo is involved in a collision, four sensors designed to measure the intensity of the impact send their information to a central computer, which determines whether or not the airbags need to be activated to protect the occupants.
If the computer decides that the driver and the passengers need the extra protection from the airbags, it triggers the inflation of those airbags. The degree of inflation is carefully calibrated to help provide the appropriate level of protection for the front-seat occupants.
An extensive series of simulations and internal crash tests confirm that the GranTurismo and its airbags also are designed to meet the strictest U.S safety standards, offering passengers a very high level of protection.
Besides the airbags, the front- and rear-seat belts are equipped with the latest pre-tensioners and load force limiters to help keep all four occupants well restrained. Isofix brackets are fitted to the rear seats to ensure that child car seats are properly secured so that even the smallest passengers are safe.
The core engineering of the chassis has been developed to meet or exceed the toughest US crash test standards, providing a solid and rigid safety cage, and the bodywork has been designed to help absorb and redistribute the force of impact.
The Maserati GranTurismo offers all four of its occupants high levels of performance, and this even extends to the performance of its on-board safety features.
Bertolini/Piccini performed brilliantly in the third round of the FIA GT championship. The race was held in rainy conditions on the city circuit of Bucharest. It was fine result, one topped off by the third place taken by Ramos/Montanari and Biagi/Gollin in sixth. This allowed Maserati to move to the top of the Constructors’ standings.
For the full story, click here.
Maserati opens a new channel of video communication for its clients and fans: the Video Podcast.
Joining the Maserati Video Podcast is rather like becoming a subscriber to a magazine: the contents appear on your computer and you can choose to watch, save or transfer them to a portable reader. The Video Podcast allows the automatic download of video and audio files using free software. A selection of the most widely available software for use with podcasts is listed below.
Free programmes for podcasting:
iTunes (Windows – Mac OS)
Juice (Windows – Mac OS – Linux)
Wizz Rss (Plugin for Firefox)
If you use other software, you can subscribe at the following URL:
In the most classic traditions of exclusive collections that inspired the creativity of car designers in the ’50s and ’60s, Paolo Boffi, well-known entrepreneur in the furnishing and luxury design sector, has commissioned from Zagato a customised look for his Maserati GS Spyder.
Zagato proposes a line that evoked the historical Maserati A6 G Zagato of 1954: one of the most beautiful Italian sedans ever built, and nowadays at the top of every collector’s wish list.
The Maserati GS Zagato, like its celebrated ancestor, has all-aluminium bodywork and bears the Trident on the bonnet and the Z on the wing, expressing eternal Italian excellence in its shape and its content. A winning combination that matches powerful and reliable mechanics, with an elegant and
and sports style, both rigorously Made in Italy.
For purists of the compact coupé, afficionados of the Milano-based brand, it is a two-volume, two-seater, hatchback with a streamlined profile and a neat tail. The wheelbase is 180mm shorter, a spin-off from the Spyder, provides excellent handling and stability on curves, with extraordinary torsional rigidity.
In homage to the tradition of the gentlemen drivers who asked Zagato to transform the bodywork of their cars, modern collectors choose mechanics at the top level of technical evolution and ‘dress’ them in tailor-made garments that increase in value as time passes.
This is the mission of a modern automobile atelier: to create timeless objects that celebrate prestigious models and brands and which, unlike mass produced vehicles, are destined to last for ever.
Zagato, born in 1919 as an atelier for automobiles and planes, has put its signature on all the most important mechanics of the last century, earning the opportunity to create, every time, an “instant classic”.
Zagato’s strengths lie in the concept of sports-style elegance, a functional design that does not bow to momentary fashions but seeks out the excitement and pleasure of driving, and in the precious aluminium bodywork, a value recognised everywhere.
The Maserati GS Zagato will be on show at the Concours d’Elegance Villa d’Este, to be held in Cernobbio (Italy) 20 -22 April 2007.
The history of Maserati spans 90+ years, two world wars, eight ownership groups (including the Italian government); racing glory followed by heartbreak and glory once again; nearly being run into the ground by Argentinian playboy DeTomaso, before finally re-emerging into world-wide glory once again. The story of Maserati’s mass production GT cars begins shortly before World War two, with none other than Ernesto Maserati, one of the founding Maserati brothers. At this point in time the brothers had sold their shares of the company to the Osri family, who relocated the factory from Bologna to their hometown of Modena. Alfieri Maserati died in 1932, but three of the remaining brothers; Bindo, Ernesto, and Ettore continued on in their engineering roles with the company.
The original A6 was the brainchild of Ernesto Maserati, who wanted to put their compact 1.5 liter inline-six engine from the 6CM into a sporty road car with the manners of a daily-driver automobile. The project was given low priority while Maserati concentrated on building their 6CM race car with and their new 1.5L supercharged inline-six engine. The 6CM dominated racing in the “Voiturette” racing class for cars up to 1500cc between 1936 and 1939. Towards the end of 1939 Maserati began toying with a naturally aspirated engine, but then war descended over Europe and car building and racing were put on hold.
After World War II, the return to racing was a slow process. The roads and permanent tracks like Monza were in poor condition, and so temporary circuits were put into use. These circuits were better suited to the Sports Car racing class, rather than the more costly and sophisticated single-seater race cars. In 1946 the Italian Sports Car Commission sought to simplify the racing classes, and divided them into three categories: Touring, Sports Car, and Grand Prix (later subdivided into Formula 1 and Formula 2). Each category was subdivided into engine classes, and superchargers were banned.
In early 1946 Maserati first used the engine known as the A6TR (Testa Riportata) in a Barchetta, in a collaboration between Ernesto Maserati and engineer Alberto Massimino for a loyal customer. The car started the model line that would be known as the A6, constructed in both Touring and Race form. The Barchetta prototype was officially named the ’6CS/46′, but was more commonly known as the ‘A6 Sport’. The car had a short racing career, but in 1947 Guido Barbieri won the Italian title for the 1500cc class driving an A6 Sport.
Ernesto Maserati, now technical director for the ‘House of the Trident’ decided that the A6TR engine would power a production road car rather than a race car. At the Geneva Motorshow in 1947, Maserati unveiled the A6 as a two-door Berlinetta, designed by Pinin Farina. The A6 heralded Maserati’s entry into mass production, while preserving its racing soul. This project also marked the end of the Maserati brothers’ 10 year contract, who left to start the race car company O.S.C.A. back in their hometown of Bologna in 1947.
During this period, Maserati was increasing its push into the Sports Car racing class, with the introduction of the A6GCS, which eventually led to Maserati’s new road car, the A6G. The new car featured a 2 liter straight six engine, and beautiful coachwork by Pinin Farina, Zagato, Frua and Vignale. (A for Alfieri Maserati, 6 for the cylinders, G for Ghisa or cast iron block, CS for Corsa & Sports)
Maserati had limited success in the ‘Sports Car’ class, and brought in Gioacchino Colombo to help turn around their struggling racing program. Colombo designed the 158 engine for the famous Alfa Romeo 158/159 Alfetta F1 car, and later developed Ferrari’s first 12-cylinder engine for use in their racing and road cars. Colombo modernized Maserati’s technical departments, laying the basis for their success through the 1950′s and 60′s.
During this time, the rivalry with Ferrari deepened, and more emphasis was placed on racing than Gran Turismo production. Maserati used the A6GCS for the basis of the new A6GCM race car, to compete in Formula 2 racing. This is the first car Colombo focused on, and after re-working the 6-cylinder engine, and a little work on the suspension and brakes, Maserati had a winning Monoposto by the end of 1952. (A6G + CM Corsa & Monoposto – single seater)
The A6GCM became the inspiration for the new A6GCS/53, which replaced the aging A6GCS. The incorporation of a World Championship for the Sports Car class of racing in 1953 gave the A6GCS/53 project a big boost. It made its debut at the Tour of Sicily, and showed extraordinary speed and handling capabilities. A long list of drivers had success in National and International racing, most notably Sergio Mantovani, and Luigi Musso who drove 2-liter Maseratis to Italian Championships in 1953 and 1954. (A6GCS + /53 denoting the model year)
All of the 62 A6GCS/53s were fitted with bodies by Medardo Fantuzzi and a few by Celestino Fiandri, with a few exceptions. There were two spyders by Frua and Vignale, and four special Berlinettas and one spyder by Pinin Farina.
At the end of 1953, the International Motor Racing Body raised the maximum engine capacity from 2 liters to 2.5 liters. This resulted in the majority of the 2-liter cars being withdrawn from racing, however many privateer groups continued to race these cars for several years. This change also spawned the creation of the 250F (for Formula 1) and 250S (for sports car). The A6G/54 Coupe also known as the A6G 2000, bodied by Frua and unveiled at the Paris Autoshow in the autumn of 1954. Another 58 cars were produced with bodies by Allemano, Frua, and Zagato.
1957 was an up and down year for Maserati; Juan-Manual Fangio won the 1957 Formula 1 World Championship driving the 250F, while a fatal crash at the ’57 Mille Miglia resulted in the race being banned, and Ferrari being sued. This turn of events resulted in Maserati withdrawing from Factory-sponsored racing, leaving the racing to privateers while concentrating on extraordinarily beautiful and powerful GTs.
Between 1946 and 1957 Maserati built just 137 cars, with a majority dedicated to racing the world’s tracks. In the summer of 1956 Giulio Alfieri began work on the second generation of Maserati inline 6-cylinder automobiles based on the 350S’ 260bhp engine, adapted for day-to-day driving by detuning to 220bhp at 5,500 rpm. The end result was a 3485cc inline 6-cylinder engine, with twin overhead camshafts, 12 inclined valves, a Marelli dual-ignition system, and three twin-choke Weber carburettors mounted to the side. The engine immediately showed its performance mettle delivering excellent torque and power with reassuring reliability.
The styling of the new car, christened the 3500 GT, was entrusted to Carrozzeria Touring of Milan, which opted for a simple shape for the latest status symbol for gentleman of innate good taste and style.
The 3500GT is one of the most important cars in Maserati’s history, with 2226 Coupes and Spyders made over an 8-year period. During this time Allemano, Bertone, Boneschi, Frua, Moretti, and Vignale designed bodies for the 3500, but none achieved the classic lines of the Touring car. In 1959 Maserati unveiled an Alfredo Vignale designed Spyder with a total of 243 examples built between 1960 and 1964. Technical development continued throughout the production run of the 3500, with disc brakes being added in 1960, a five-speed ZF gearbox was offered in 1961, and fuel injection in 1962.
Beginning in 1962 Maserati offered the Vignale designed 3500GTIS, which became known as the Maserati Sebring. The car was based on the 10cm shorter Spyder platform, and sold alongside the 3500GTI. A total of 591 series 1 and 2 Sebrings were sold between 1962 and 1968.
Following the success of the Maserati Sebring, Maserati unveiled the Mistral designed by Frua at the end of 1963. The Mistral began its life using the same 3.5-liter inline 6-cylinder engine as the 3500GTI, later replaced by a 3.7-liter inline 6, which also found its way into the Sebring Series 2. Towards the end of the production run, the engine was enlarged to 4-liters, making 255bhp. The Mistral was produced between 1964 and 1970, with a total of 828 Coupes and 120 Spyders. With the end of the Mistral run in 1970, the era of the big 6-cylinder Maseratis drew to a close.
The final car to be launched under Osri control would be the 1967 Maserati Ghibli. This new car debuted at the 1966 Turin Autoshow, and featured a design by Giorgetto Giugiaro. This car was originally sold alongside the Mistral, but later replaced that car and by 1973 1274 Ghiblis were sold, including 125 Spyders. The Ghibli originally featured a 4.7-liter V-8 engine based on the 450S racecar’s power-plant, and made 330bhp. Later on in the Ghibli SS, the V-8 was enlarged to 5-liters, and made 335hp.
In 1968 Maserati was sold to Citroen, with new models and increased production numbers. These new models included the mid-engined Bora and Merak, as well as the Khamsin which replaced the Ghibli.
The Khamsin was a 2+2 coupe designed by Bertone and unveiled at the 1972 Torino Autoshow, going into full production in 1974. The Khamsin was powered by the 5-liter V-8 engine, which produced 320bhp and 354lb-ft of torque with a five-speed ZF transmission. Between 1973 and 1982 only 435 of the mighty Khamsins made it into production.
Unfortunately the 1973 oil-crisis put the brakes on Maserati’s now ambitious expansion. In 1974 Citroen went bankrupt, and the PSA Peugeot Citroen group put Maserati up for liquidation in 1975. Italian government funds kept the company alive until Alessandro De Tomaso arranged for Benelli motorcycles, a company he controlled, to purchase Maserati and install him as head. In 1976 new models were introduced, including the Kyalami and the Quattroporte III.
Maserati followed these cars up with the BiTurbo, Shamal, and Ghibli II. The Ghibli II was a two-door 2+2 coupe, with a 2.0-liter V6 BiTurbo engine, followed by a 2.8-liter V6 BiTurbo in 1994. The Ghibli II was built until 1997, when it was replaced by the 3200 GT.
In 1984 Chrysler, run by DeTomaso’s friend Lee Lacocca bought a 15.6% stake in Maserati, and they jointly released the Chrysler TC by Maserati. This car was essentially a shortened Dodge Daytona, although most people considered the car an overpriced LeBaron and it was cancelled in 1991.
In 1989 Fiat bought a 49% stake in Maserati, as well as a 51% stake in Maserati Milano where the cars were assembled. The early 90′s were a period of disarray for Maserati, with the BiTurbo showing its age, and Maserati’s increasingly demanding customers’ needs were no longer being met by it. On top of this, DeTomaso fell seriously ill, and on May 19,1993 was forced to sell his remaining 51% share in Maserati to Fiat.
In 1997 Fiat sold 50% of Maserati to Ferrari, whom it also owns, and two Italian automakers that had been in direct competition for so many years were now partners. Ferrari inherited two models in production; the Ghibli II, and the Quattroporte III based on the Ghibli II platform. They also inherited the 3200GT in it’s development phase.
At the Paris Autoshow in 1998 the new 3200GT was unveiled to the public, and was an instant hit. The Giorgetto Giugiaro body and BiTurbo V8 launched the car into showrooms in the Spring of 1999, the same year Ferrari took full control of Maserati. This new car launched Maserati into the new Millenium and completely did away with the rather square form of DeTomaso’s years. A new factory was built, becoming one of the most modern in the world.
Production of the 3200GT was ended in 2001, for two reasons: The engine needed to be updated in line with modern pollution control laws, and it was time for Maserati to re-enter the United States market.
The Maserati technicians with a little help from their friends at Ferrari created an Aluminum 4.2-liter V-8 engine. The Giugiaro design was refreshed and paired with this new V-8, and had its world debut at the 2002 Detroit Autoshow. The Coupe was followed by the Spyder, and later by the GranSport and GranSport Spyder, with production lasting until late 2006.
And the rest they say, is history.
Want to know more about the history of Maserati? Here are some great links:
http://www.maserati-alfieri.co.uk – Enrico’s Maserati Pages. One of the best sources for Maserati history I’ve come across.
http://www.maseratilife.com – Enthusiast forums
The new Maserati GranTurismo stole both the Geneva and New York Autoshows in 2007. For a complete gallery of almost 100 pictures, click here.