The first of the Maserati brothers to work with engines was Carlo. He worked in Affori, which is close to Milan, in a bicycle factory. While there, he designed a single engine for a velocipede. It was later produced in the motorcycle plant of Marchese Carcano di Anzano de Parco. Carlo used the engine he designed to equip racing bicycles. He set a record in 1900, when he rode 50 kilometres per hour (31 miles per hour.) When Carcano closed its doors in 1901, Carlo went to Fiat. In 1903, he left Fiat to work as a mechanic and test driver for Isotta Fraschini. He talked the Company into hiring his sixteen-year-old brother, Alfeiri.
Carlo's career was brilliant. By the time he died at age 29, he had raced for Bianchi, served as General Manager of Junior and opened a workshop with his brother, Ettore. The two brothers build electric transformers for both high and low voltage cars. Shortly after Carlo's death, brother Alfieri, who had a similar personality and skills, took Carlo's place as driver and technician. In 1908, he placed 14th in Dieppe at the Grand Prix for Voiturettes, even though the car that Isotto loaned him had a carburettor breakdown.
Brothers Binde and Ettore were by this time working at Isotta Fraschini. Alfieri was promoted to the customer service sector in Bologna by 1912. The experience he gained there encouraged him to start his own business. He wanted to use his knowledge, creativity, talent and skill to their fullest potential.
Alfieri rented space in Bologna's historical district at Via de Pepoli in 1914. It became the first headquarters of Maserati.
When WWI ended, Alfieri moved Maserati's offices to Bologna's suburbs. The Brothers main business was tuning cars for Isotta Fraschini, though they did work on other automobiles. Alfieri got into racing shortly thereafter and proved his worth by winning the Mugello Circuit, the Susa-Moncenisio and the Aosta-Great Saint Bernard. Much to his chagrin, he was disqualified for replacing a 2-liter engine with a 3-liter. The disqualification was imposed for five years, but was lifted after a few months.
While he was away from the racing circuit, Alfieri concentrated on the Maserati shop. He built the Tipo 26 in 1926. The first Maserati was born and it sported the Trident logo. The car, driven by Alfieri won the Targa Florio in its debut race. The engine was an 8-cylinder in line with a 1.5 litre supercharged displacement that developed 120 bhp at 5300 rpm.
Maserati Tipo V4
After that the wins came thick and fast. In 1929 Maserati won the Tripoli Grand Prix (Borzacchini-E. Maserati) and the Mille Miglia (overall winner). In the same year, Borzacchini set a new 3-5 litre world speed record in a Maserati Tipo V4, an extraordinary car with a V16 engine made by coupling together two Tipo 26 engine blocks. The Maserati's average speed of 246.069 km/h was achieved from a propelled start on a 10 km track near Cremona and was not beaten until eight years later (by Auto Union).
The 1930 's
It was a performance that did a lot for the Maserati image and sales figures.
The powerful V4 was joined by the 26M, considered by many Alfieri's masterpiece. That was the era of the great Maserati drivers: Arcangeli, Varzi and Fagioli who won at Monza in an 8C 2800. Alfieri Maserati then created the 4 CTR a 4-cylinder, 1088 cc turbocharged model that was more versatile and mechanically more complex. It was to be Alfieri's last car, since he died at only 44 on March 3, 1932. In 1933, Nuvolari appeared on the scene, driving the 8C to victory in the Belgian Grand Prix, the Coppa Ciano at Montenero and the Nice Grand Prix. In 1939, the GP formula was changed to 4500 cc for aspirated, 3000 cc for supercharged engines. Maserati went for the second option and created the 8CTF, an 8-cylinder that developed 350 bhp at 6300 rpm. That was also the year of a sensational triumph for the firm. An 8CTF sold in the USA and driven by Wilbur Shaw won the Indianapolis 500.
Still in 1939, Maserati was taken over by the Orsi family and moved to its present home on Viale Ciro Menotti. The new head of its engineering division was Alberto Massimino.
The 1950 's
The new owners had their first encounter with the racing circuit on April 22, 1946 when Gigi Villoresi won the Nice Grand Prix in a 4 CL. In the same year Sommer won the Marseilles G.P.
The A6 Sport designed for owner-drivers came out in this early post-war period. In the same year it was developed into a tourer coupé with a 1.5 litre 6-cylinder 64 bhp engine and a body by Pinin Farina. That was Maserati's first ever road car.
In 1953 Maserati went back into motor racing and hired the engineer Gioacchino Colombo, who produced a thoroughly updated, more powerful version of the A6 GCM. This racing car was then flanked by the A6 GCS sports car version.
In 1954, Maserati launched a sports car that was not necessarily a racing model. That was the A6 G54 (6 cylinders in line, 1985 cc, 150 bhp), available in spider and coupé formats with bodywork by Allemano, Frua and Zagato.
In 1957, Stirling Moss left Maserati after he had racked up numerous victories in the 250 F but had failed to win the F1 world championship. His place was taken by Fangio who made a triumphant debut in the Argentine Grand Prix where Maserati took all three places on the podium. (1st Fangio, 2nd Behra, 3rd Menditeguy). By the end of the season Fangio had won the world title in a Maserati 250 F.
At the same time, Maserati was also excelling itself in the World Sports car Championship with the legendary 450S, a genuine powerhouse driven by a weighty 4.5 litre V8 engine that developed 400 bhp. Then at the end of the year Maserati unexpectedly announced that it would no longer race, though it would go on designing racing cars. Indeed it went on to produce several masterpieces of the art including the Tipo 60 and the 61 "Birdcage" as well as the 3-litre V12 power unit used on the Cooper Maserati Formula 1 car in 1965-67.
All great changes in the world of industry are dictated by economic circumstances, mostly of a negative kind. Thus it was that Maserati decided to concentrate on production cars in late 1957. Its first steps in this new direction were hesitant (the A6, A6G, A6G/54), but in 1957-75 Maserati went on to produce eleven of the most important models in the history of Italian quality car manufacture.
Maserati began with the assumption that a performance car did not have to be spartan, noisy and terribly difficult to drive. That was the birth of a new concept, the Grand Tourer that was to achieve worldwide renown. The founder of this great tradition was the 3500 GT Touring coupé (1957-64) and its spider version by Vignale. It was followed by the 5000 GT (1959-64), famous in its Shah of Persia Touring version, the Vignale Sebring (1963-69), the Quattroporte (1963-69), the Mistral (1963-70) with coupé and spider bodywork by Frua, the Mexico (1966-72) also by Vignale, the ultra-elegant Ghibli (1966-73) in coupé and spider versions by Ghia, the Indy (1969-76) with Vignale's 4-seater coup' body.
The 1970 's
In 1968, the Orsi family sold Maserati to Citroën which was primarily interested in acquiring its engine know-how. Indeed a 6-cylinder Maserati engine was used on the Citroën SM coupé. Under the new management and in total contrast with Maserati's traditional insistence on a front-mounted engine, the firm also produced two centre-engined models: the Bora (1971-79) with a 90° V8 engine and the Merak (1972-83) with a 90° V6 power unit, both of them with Italdesign bodies. Citroën also introduced a new version of the Quattroporte with SM mechanicals and front wheel drive! Very few were ever produced and the model was never homologated.
1973 saw the debut of the Khamsin, a sharply cut streamlined coupé with a Bertone body. In the same year, though, Maserati sales were badly hit by the oil crisis and Citroën pulled out.
In 1976 Alejandro De Tomaso came to the rescue with GEPI back-up and reorganised the company, calling in Guerino and Aurelio Bertocchi to join him. By Spring of that same year Maserati had a new model to present at the Geneva Show. That was the Kyalami a coupé derived from the De Tomaso Longchamps. And at the Turin Show which followed, Maserati presented the Quattroporte III saloon with a saloon body by Giugiaro and a 300 bhp 8-cylinder power unit.
The 1990 's
In 1981-93 Maserati produced numerous 6- and 8-cylinder twin turbo models with 2.0, 2.5, 2.8 and 3.2 litre engines: from the Bi-Turbo. to the Spider and on to the 420, 430, 228, 2.24v., 4.24v., not to mention the Racing, the Shamal and the Ghibli.
In 1993 Maserati was taken over by Fiat Auto.
In 1994 Maserati presented both the up-dated version of the Ghibli (MY94) and the special version called KS (Sports Kit).
In 1995 the new version of the Ghibli unofficially called GT was released. In 1996 the V8 version of the Quattroporte, the Quattroporte V8 3,2 went on sale in mid-year.
Today, Maserati remains one of the most important companies in the Emilia Region's effervescent industrial fabric. The Maserati factory on Viale Ciro Menotti occupies a 43,500 sq.m. site and employs 300 people. Maserati does everything else: from design aided by the latest computer systems to engineering and from foundry work to assembly and outfitting. Maserati's output goes 60% to export and 40% to the home market. Maserati currently boasts a sales network with 35 dealers in Italy and 250 abroad.