Maserati’s Best To Be Put On Display

Celebration: For the 100th anniversary, finest examples from around the world heading to California

This year, the Maserati car company is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

And to celebrate the auspicious occasion, some of the finest examples will be shipped from all corners of the world to be displayed at various events during Monterey, Calif. car week Aug. 11–17.

During the ’70s and ’80s, Maserati sales weren’t exactly booming, but today they are back and building some very exciting sports cars and luxury sedans powered by great sounding Ferrari engines.

The Maserati brothers had the same origins as Ferrari — namely, building racing cars.

The company was founded in December of 1914 in Bologna, but the first Maserati race car was built in 1926 and won the Tara Florio that same year.

By 1957 the great Juan Manual Fangio had lifted the Italian car builder to great heights with many racing victories, including the ultimate reward, the Formula One World Championship, driving the Tipo 250F.

However, instead of celebrating, Maserati was filing for bankruptcy. The Orsi Empire that then owned the company was on the brink of financial disaster.

A change of direction was required and quickly, so out went the racing program and in came a wholesale move toward road-car production. By then the company had moved its headquarters to Modena, where it remains today.

The saviour was their first mass-produced road car, the 3500GT, which debuted at the 1957 Geneva Motor Show.

Maseratis exude good breeding. Ferraris seem gauche by comparison. A suitable sister car for the Maserati would be an Aston Martin DB4. Both marques shared the same construction and coachbuilder, Touring of Milan.

Touring pioneered the Superleggera process, which involved attaching aluminum panels to a steel-tube frame. The overall effect was a very light but rigid body. The 3.5-litre, 220-horsepower, twin-cam, six-cylinder engine, coupled to a four-speed ZF gearbox and a Salisbury differential, made for a perfect combination.

They were certainly not inexpensive; the $12,300 sticker price in the early ’60s was the cost of a house, including the lot.

The plan worked. Touring produced 1,973 coupes for Maserati during a seven-year period.

You could purchase a used Maserati 3500GT in the mid-1970s for approximately $5,000.

Those days are long gone, and with the price of front-engine Ferraris out of reach for most, the Maserati is a bargain now selling in the $200,000 range. Count on that price to continue to climb, due to supply and demand.

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