Key “Milestone” Cars That Shaped Maserati
Since its foundation in 1941 in Bologna, Italy, Maserati remains one of the top automakers in the Italian automotive pantheon and for a good reason. With their roots in race car development and production, Maserati have been at the forefront of automotive technology and engineering.
The following is just a sample of the innovative “milestone” cars that made Maserati the powerhouse brand that it is today.The V4
During its early years, Maserati focused more on racing vehicles, experimenting with various technologies that could improve their times on the track. One key model of this phase is the Maserati V4. Introduced in the early 1930’s, the V4 racer featured a distinctive 16 cylinder engine made up of two inline-8 engine blocks from the Tipo 26, an earlier Maserati model from which the V4’s chassis and bodywork were also taken. This gave the V4 a 280 to 305 bhp power output—which was massive for its time—and had a top speed of 260 km/h. However, its heavy weight made it difficult to steer and it gobbled gas and 19-inch tires at a fast rate.The 4CM
Produced in 1936, the Maserati 4CM single-seater race car was one of the first vehicles to be fitted with hydraulic brakes, enabling better control especially at high speeds. A later version of the 4CM, the Siluro 4CM Carenato, was also among the first to incorporate an aerodynamic shell styled by skilled aeronautic engineers.The Zagato Spyder
Based on its classic A6G 54 platform, the Maserati A6G 54 Zagato Spyder convertible features a tubular chassis, an alloy two-liter engine with two overhead camshafts. It was also among the first production vehicles to have a timing chain, greatly simplifying the gearing mechanism compared to its predecessors. This features, combined with its four-speed gearbox, enabled this Spyder to reach a top speed of 210 km/h.The 3500 GT
Considered by Maserati as one of its most important models, the 3500 GT two-door convertible was the first Italian-made production vehicle to have an indirect fuel injection system. The system, which centered on a Lucas mechanical fuel injection, gave the 3500 GT an impressive4 232 horsepower output.The Tipo 151
One of the more well-known models in Maserati’s storied line of Tipo racers, the Tipo 151 was specifically designed to compete in the grueling Le Mans 24 Hour race. Although it has a traditional ladder frame design, the 151 is fitted with the latest trends in aerodynamics including a Kamm tail, a low set front hood, and a large front scoop to clear the engine stacks. This slippery design, along with its twin spark V8 powerplant, enabled the 151 to hit speeds of up to 314 km/h on the track.The Boomerang
Developed by Italdesign Guigaro in 1971, the Maserati Boomerang concept is one of the most unique car designs in Maserati’s history. It had a futuristic design – a wedge-shaped shell with sleek lines and a low and wide center of gravity – that was years ahead of the brand’s style. The Boomerang’s design would later be incorporated in other cars, including the best-selling Maserati Quattroporte.
Signature Innovations from Maserati
Italian automakers have long been held in high regard in the industry, but Maserati is in a class of its own. With its roots going back to racing motorsports in the early 1910’s, Maserati has successfully blended luxury with high performance engineering, resulting in high end automobiles that are as formidable in the showroom as they are in the racetrack.
Today, Maserati vehicles incorporate some of the latest technologies in the automotive industry, including:The “Birdcage” chassis
One of Maserati’s signature technologies is the “birdcage” chassis. Developed by the brand’s chief engineer, Guilio Alfieri, the birdcage chassis offers a lightweight but extremely rigid frame, allowing for superior handling characteristics without sacrificing the integrity of the chassis. This chassis technology was integrated in four of Maserati’s Tipo race cars, namely the Tipo 60, Tipo 61, Tipo 63, and Tipo 64. In 2005, Maserati unveiled the Birdcage 75th concept vehicle, which featured a semi-opaque Perspex dome and carbon fiber exterior.Ultralight alloys
Another signature feature in Maserati vehicles are its usage of ultralight materials and alloys. In fact, Maserati attributes its success in the racing circuits to its use of stiffer, lighter materials to improve its car’s dynamic performance, giving drivers a unique driving experience and sporty handling. Today, Maserati makes generous use of aluminum, carbon fiber, and other light weight alloys and materials in its vehicles, particularly on critical suspension, steering, and chassis components such as the wishbone suspension and linkages.Skyhook suspension
Maserati owners also have exclusive access to the Skyhook electronic suspension system. Working alongside the aluminum gas dampers found in Maserati suspensions, the Skyhook automatically controls the damper’s response to the road conditions and the driving style in real time, resulting in a very comfortable driving experience. The driver can also take advantage of the Skyhook’s Sport mode, which gives the dampers a more rigid feel to reduce roll angles.The MSP electronic system
Select Maserati models are equipped with the Maserati Stability Program (MSP) electronic stability control system. Making use of special electronic sensors and other devices, the MSP detects side-skidding and adjusts for it by reducing the engine torque. Also, the system connects with the car’s ABS and EBD systems to prevent wheel lock during braking and down-shifts on slippery road surfaces as well as reducing wheel spin during acceleration.Steering
Maserati also incorporates servo-assisted hydraulic steering systems in their cars to ensure an optimum “feel” at the wheel without the annoying impression of artificial assistance when turning corners at high speeds. Maserati’s Ghibli saloon also features a state-of-the-art aluminum steering box for smoother and lighter handling characteristics, and a five-arm multi-link system at the rear for superior ride comfort and sporty performance.Active Sound system
Maserati vehicles are known for their signature aggressive sound. In the latest models from the brand, that it is achieved through the Maserati Active Sound system. Composed of several sound actuators fitted near the exhaust pipe, the Active Sound system enhances the engine sounds, which can be further customized by the driver through a Sport button on the car’s central tunnel for a more thrilling driving experience.