Maserati drops the axe on V-8 engines


Maserati will stop selling eight-cylinder sports cars, sedans, and SUVs 65 years after the Italian brand first installed a V-8 in a road car.

Production of Maserati’s 3.8-liter, 90-degree V-8 is set to finish before the end of 2023 but the Levante, Ghibli, and Quattroporte will still be available in Trofeo trim, where the V-8 sings loud, into 2024.

Two celebratory special editions, the Ghibli 334 Ultima and the Levante 334 Ultima, will represent the V-8’s last hurrah when they are revealed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July.

The story of the company’s V-8 actually began in 1936 when Ernesto Maserati built a 4.8-liter motor to go racing. With a dual-choke Weber carburetor and a Roots-type supercharger, the engine made an impressive 325 horsepower. It was fitted to the V8RI race car (named for its Ruote indipendenti all-wheel suspension) of which four were built but only one scored a Grand Prix victory, at Pau in France in 1936.

Maserati Bora Factory Tour V8 powerplant
John Lamm/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images

When production finally ends Maserati will have assembled more than 100,000 V-8s for the road since the 5000GT was launched in 1959. Back then it was a 4.9-liter unit fed by four Weber carburetors, that was fitted to Maserati’s chassis, while no less than eight different Italian coachbuilders provided the bodywork for the 34 cars made. In its day the car’s 325 hp output was enough to attract wealthy buyers such as Karim Aga Khan, Gianni Agnelli, Briggs Cunningham, Joe Walsh, and even the president of Mexico.

Maserati 5000 GT front

Maserati would go on to develop its eight-cylinder for such legendary vehicles as the Ghibli, Quattroporte, Bora, and Kyalami. Over the years Trident-wearing V-8s would be built in capacities as low as 3.2 liters and as high as 6.5 liters. In between there were 4.2- and 4.7-liter variations and power outputs ranged from 260 hp to the mighty 580 hp of the last-of-the-line twin-turbo.

The death knell for the V-8 was sounded when Maserati announced its Formula 1-inspired Nettuno V-6 in 2020. Displacing just three liters, the twin-turbo six-cylinder is much more efficient and, at 630 hp, significantly more powerful than the V-8 ever could be. Despite such impressive performance, the V-6 definitely won’t live as long a life as the V-8, with Maserati pivoting to electrification. After unveiling its first EV, the GranTurismo Folgore, the company confirmed that it will be fully electric by 2030.

If you’re fan of the Trident’s Vees, you’d better get ’em while you still can.

Maserati Bora Factory Tour V8 engines
John Lamm/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images






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