Maserati is a luxury Italian automaker that began in Bologna in 1914. Their tagline is, “Luxury, sports and style cast in exclusive cars.” Their mission is to build high-level, ultra-luxury automobiles featuring Italian style while offering superior performance and bespoke interiors. The U.S. headquarters are located in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
After a 10 year break from U.S. sales, the company returned in 2002. Since then, their sales continue to increase and the recognition they’ve received grows. While they don’t sell as many vehicles as the other luxury brands, they are slowly becoming the company to watch.
A Brief History
Brothers Working Together
There were seven Maserati brothers; Alfieri I, Alfieri II, Bindo, Carlo, Ettore, Ernesto, and Mario. They were all born in Voghera with Rodolfo Maserati as their father and Carolina Losi as their mother. Rodolfo was a train driver. The oldest brother was born in 1881 while the youngest was born in 1898. Alfieri I only lived to be one year old, but the other six lived to be adults.
Each of them had a deep passion for engineering and designing automobiles. The only one that didn’t seem interested was Mario who became a painter instead. It’s speculated that he helped to create the Trident, the Maserati logo.
Carlo worked in Affori with engines. That’s where he designed racing bicycle engines. In 1900, he rode a bike 31 mph and set a speed record. In 1901, Carlo went to work for Fiat but later left in 1903. He became a test driver and mechanic for Isotta Fraschini. At the time, his brother Alfieri was only sixteen years old, but Carlo convinced the company to hire him as well.
Carlo ended up passing away when he was 29. Prior to his death he raced for Bianchi and opened a workshop with his brother, Ettore. Together, they built electric transformers. Once Carlo died, his brother Alfieri took over as the technician and driver. By 1908, he had placed 14th in Dieppe during the Grand Prix even though his carburetor caused him to break down. At this same time Ettore and Binde were also working together at Isotta Fraschini.
The Start of a Company
The Maserati Company was founded in 1914 in the city of Bologna. Alfieri rented space inside the historic district of Via de Pepoli. This was the official first headquarters for the company. At the time, four brothers became the founders, Bindo, Ernesto, Ettore, and Alfieri.
Their main business started by tuning cars for Isotta Fraschini, but they worked on other vehicles as well. Alfieri also got involved in racing and won the Mugello Circuit, Aosta-Great Saint Bernard, and Susa-Moncenisio.
They built their first car in 1926, called the Tipo 26. It had an eight-cylinder engine and 1.5-liter supercharged displacement that produced 120 horsepower. On top of the radiator, they placed their new trident reminiscent of the statue of Neptune. It was the first vehicle to have this trademark. This Tipo 26 debuted when it won its class during the Targo Florio with Alfieri as the driver.
The following year, he took third place at the Targa Florio, but then had an accident during the Messina Cup with the Tipo 26B. Despite that, he still managed to win the Italian Constructors’ Championship.
The V4, created in 1929, came with a 16-cylinder engine that was made by taking two Tipo 26 engine blocks and coupling them together. This car made its debut during the Italian Grand Prix and set the world Class C speed record in Cremona with the driver Baconin Borzacchinni. That record held for eight years until Auto Union beat it.
He got behind the wheel of the Maserati V4 yet again in 1930 and won a victory during the Grand Prix in Tripoli. The company went on to add the 26M to its lineup of vehicles. Alfieri designed two more cars before dying in 1932. They were the 4CTR and the front-wheel-drive 8C 2500.
Bindo ended up leaving Isotta Fraschini to continue Alfieri’s legacy of building Maserati vehicles. It was a successful time in the racing field for the company and many excellent Maserati drivers joined the ranks.
In 1933, the company hired Tazio Nuvolari to the team. He was in charge of adding technical contributions and helped fine-tune the cars’ chassis. In 1937, the brothers sold the entire company to the Orsi family. This caused Maserati’s headquarters to relocate to Modena. Despite their lack of ownership, the brothers continued working as chief engineers through 1948.
During World War II, Maserati changed its focus and began producing machine tools, electric vehicles, spark plugs, and electrical components. Once the war was over, regular vehicle production resumed and they created the A6 1500. This tourer coupe had a 1.5-liter 6-cylinder engine that produced 64 horsepower. It was the company’s first road car.
Maserati released the A6 G54 in 1954. It was a sports car, but not like the other racing models. It featured a 1985 cc, 6-cylinder engine and produced 150 horsepower. They had coupe and spider formats. Then, in 1958, the 3500 GT was launched. This pivotal moment for the company led to an expansion of the plant. Their main goal shifted to creating production vehicles instead of racing.
Following the success of the 3500 GT, the company created the 5000 GT in 1959, the Sebring in 1962, the Quattroporte in 1963, the Mistral in 1963, the Mexico in 1966, and the Ghibli is 1966,
The Orsi family then sold the company to Citroën in 1968. Their interest was to acquire the engine knowledge. That’s when they placed a Maserati 6-cylinder engine into a Citroën SM coupé. In 1971, they presented the Bora which was the first mid-engine, mass-produced Maserati. They also released a newer version of the Quattroporte that featured front-wheel-drive and SM mechanicals.
During 1973, the Khamsin coupe debuted. During the same year, sales took a dive due to the oil crisis so Citroën pulled out. They decided to liquidate the company, but the government stepped in. Maserati went under the control of the GEPI, an agency which assists companies in unfortunate financial situations. They did this to save the jobs associated with the company.
In 1975, Benelli took over a large part of the company’s shares. De Tomaso, a race car driver, became the Managing Director as a result. This helped the company to get back on solid ground. In 1976, they released the Kyalami and the Quattroporte III. This time it came equipped with an 8-cylinder engine that produced 300 horsepower.
End of the 20th Century
During the 1980s, Maserati released the Biturbo. It came in 30 different versions and had a low price point without sacrificing power.
Fiat Auto purchased all of the company’s shares in 1993. The first project was to redesign the Quattroporte. Then, in 1994, they released a newer version of the Ghibli and the KS. The Ghibli was also referred to as the GT.
In 1997, Ferrari bought the company from Fiat. That’s when the plant in Modena closed down which made way for a newer, more modern assembly plant. Their first car was the 3200 GT in 1998. After this, sales jumped to about 2,000 cars produced annually.
In 1999, they announced they would be joining the North American market after a long break. The first appearance was at the Detroit Motor Show of 2002.
In the Modern Age
After returning to the North American market, sophisticated vehicles like the GranSport and Quattroporte made their appearance. The company also faced a return to racing which boasted their approval.
In 2005, the company was transferred back to Fiat from Ferrari. This allowed the two marques to achieve commercial and industrial synergies. Today they are seen as an automaker that stands for excellence. They produce vehicles that feature a distinct level of Italian styling. Not only do they have a strong reputation in the racing world, but they also give off the appearance of high-quality craftsmanship, innovative technology, and superior sophistication.
Alternative Propulsion Methods
The company plans to have all their vehicles feature some sort of electric or hybrid capacity during the next few years. The hope is that everything will be all-electric by the year 2022.
The first to switch over will be the Maserati Levante plug-in hybrid, debuting in 2019. After that, the company intends to release the Maserati Alfieri all-electric car in 2020. It is slated to have three V6 engine choices, which produce 410, 450, or 520 horsepower. It is also rumored that the car will be capable of hitting 60 mph in under two seconds.
Maserati Safety and Crash Ratings
On the 2017 IIHS Top Safety Pick list, none of the Maserati vehicles were listed. Again, in 2018, they are absent from the IIHS Top Safety Pick rankings. As of the summer of 2018, the only vehicle they tested was the Maserati Ghibli. It won a “Good” ranking for all crashworthiness tests and received a “basic” for front crash prevention.
Maserati vehicles offer a comprehensive list of safety equipment. The Highway Assist System (HAS) keeps vehicles centered in its lane while maintaining a pre-selected speed plus a chosen distance from the car in front of it.
Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) automatically corrects any steering that veers the car out of its lane unintentionally. Active Blind Spot Assist uses a signal in the side mirrors to alert the driver of another car in their blind spot.
Forward Collision Warning Plus alerts the driver if a crash is imminent. If the driver doesn’t intervene, then the Autonomous Emergency Braking system applies the brakes to reduce speed. The Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go causes the car to set and maintain a pre-set distance from vehicles ahead of it.
The Surround View Camera offers a 360-degree view around the vehicle. Traffic Sign Recognition monitors road signs for speed limit and applies it to the vehicle’s cluster display. Advanced Brake Assist (ABA) uses an ESC pump to apply the highest possible deceleration when the driver forcefully applies the brakes.
The Maserati Stability Program (MSP) uses numerous systems to offer maximum handling and grip. If the vehicle skids, MSP reduces engine torque plus activates the brakes to help restore stability. The Integrated Vehicle Control (IVC) deals with things that could cause instability and reduces engine torque as a result. It will also apply braking force to individual wheels if needed.
Their vehicles also include Adaptive LED Matrix Headlamps for additional safety. When these headlights operate at full beam, there’s a 200% greater field of vision than with traditional halogen bulbs.
Maserati Safety Recalls
Maserati doesn’t make it to the mainstream rankings on safety recall information with other automakers because they don’t produce enough vehicles. This makes it hard to determine if they have more recalls than your average company. They also don’t produce as many vehicles as many of the other automakers, so their recalls don’t generally involve a large amount of cars.
With that said, in 2016, they had several recalls that stood out. The first occurred in June and involved more than 26,000 vehicles. There might have been a loose bolt which caused the rear tires to oversteer. This was due to a bolt in a rear tie-rod that was improperly tightened during assembly. This recall included the 2014-2016 Quattroporte and Ghibli. While there weren’t reports of injury, there had been plenty of complaints about excessive noise in the rear.
Maserati also took place with the 1 million Jeep, Chrysler, and Dodge vehicles that were recalled that year. 13,000 Maserati brand vehicles were recalled due to a faulty gearshift. This included every model 2014 Ghibli and Quattroporte. The mono-stable shifter wasn’t intuitive, so a driver could think they placed their car in park, but it was really in drive. While Maserati drivers didn’t suffer any injury, there were 121 crashes due to the other recalled Fiat brands.
Maserati Consumer Satisfaction Reports & Dependability Ratings
Maserati doesn’t produce as many cars as most automakers, so they aren’t on any mainstream listing of consumer satisfaction or dependability ratings. Independent studies conclude that Maserati vehicles aren’t reliable. While this is the case with many luxury brands, it’s important to note that repairs on a Maserati become quite expensive when compared to even the higher-end names.
One of the most common issues with Maserati vehicles is related to the brakes. While they work, they often get unreliable if the fluid isn’t changed properly. There also seem to be many complaints about stone chips. The cars are low to the ground which makes them prone to stone chips in wheel arches. This happens more often when driving fast.
Finally, there have been numerous complaints about problems with the clutch. In fact, some Quattroporte owners reach just about 12,000 miles before needing a replacement.
The company hasn’t won many awards in the United States. With that said, in 2014, they had a successful year in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The brand ramped up sales and was honored with 12 various awards. These included “Car of the Year” and “Best Sports Saloon” by Wheels/UAE, “Best Performance Luxury Executive Car” by Asian Auto/Malaysia, “Midsize Luxury Saloon of the Year” by Autocar Asean/Malaysia, “Best Luxury Sedan Car 2014” by Sport Auto/KSA, “Luxury Car of the Year” by the New Zealand Herald, and “The Most Beautiful Car of the Year” by Gentlemen Drivers, Morocco.
Sales continue to increase in the American market, so it’s expected that the brand will win more awards in the coming years.
Maserati Driving Experience
In 2017, the company brought the performance and power of driving a Maserati to the United States. The Master Maserati driving experience allowed drivers the chance to feel the rush of driving a luxury sports car on the track. It included a full fleet of GranTurismo, Ghibli, and Quattroporte GTs.
The courses were in Southern California, New Jersey, and Florida. Each session was conducted by a professional instructor to teach high-performance safety and driving. The price to participate in 2017 was $2,800 plus an extra $300 for a non-driving guest. This price included a night of premium accommodations, instruction, meals, transportation, and one-day driving experience.
Snapshot of the Company
The company’s headquarters are located in Modena, Italy and they are owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which is an Italian-American car manufacturer. They were once owned by Ferrari. The Maserati factory is located on Viale Ciro Menotti and takes up 43,500 square meters. This site employs 300 people.
The United States headquarters is located in Auburn Hills, Michigan inside the former Walter P. Chrysler Museum. Prior to 2017, their offices were found in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Christian Gobber is the Head of Maserati Global Sales plus President and CEO of Maserati North America.
In the United States, the Maserati brand sold 13,711 vehicles in 2017. This was up from 12,534 in 2016 and just 4,768 in 2013. These numbers show that Maserati is establishing a presence in America.
Globally, the company sold about 51,000 vehicles in 2017, which was also up from their 42,100 sales in 2016.
The current owner of Maserati is Fiat S.p.A. They’re an Italian holding company that includes numerous brands. Some of their most well-known marques are Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Ram, Jeep, and Chrysler.
Other investments include Magneti Marelli, a leader in automotive lighting, and Comau, who works on production automation. They also have a large stake in Teksid, which is a metal foundry.
The Tipo 26 was the first Maserati car which featured their primary logo, which also stayed with them through history. The trident belongs to the statue of Neptune which is found in the fountain situated in Piazza Maggiore in Bologna. This symbol of royalty and power was designed by Mario Maserati, the brother who didn’t have an interest in building cars, but instead found his passion in art.
Even the colors, blue and red, are rooted deeply in the history of Bologna. In 1951, the logo was placed inside an oval shape. Then, just a few years later in 1954, the versions had more of a round shape to it. When Maserati was acquired by the Argentinian Alejandro De Tomaso in 1975, he restyled some light blue into the trident.
In 1985, the company returned to its traditional logo but added a few small details. When they merged with Fiat in 1993, they went through another restyling phase. The oval became elongated while the structure was simplified.
Maserati has not been a brand that was interested in running commercial ads for their line of vehicles. Instead, they’ve tested select TV ads in Europe targeted at the right audience through Sky’s TV technology. 2018 was the first time that they purchased any advertising spots in Europe and there were strict criteria over what customer was targeted.
There have also been some targeted ads in the United States, most notably during the Super Bowl, but the company doesn’t have a large on-air presence.
Throughout history, Maserati has always participated in some form of motorsports. They’ve had success with Formula One, touring car racing, as well as sports car racing. Even the first Tipo 26 won the Targo Florio in 1926 with Alfieri Maserati behind the wheel.
World Sports Car Championship
Maserati took second place during the 1956 World Sportscar Championship. It was with a 300S. In fact, they score points every year but one from 1953 through 1961. In 1957, they retired the factory team, but still built cars for the private racers.
After that, many of their teams went on to place in the top three during races.
FIA GT Championship
In 2004, Maserati turned its focus to sportscar racing. They entered the Mc12 into the FIA GT Championship. They even had a streak where they won five team championships plus four drivers championships in a row.
FIA GT1 World Championship
In 2010, Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels won the GT1 World Championship for Drivers while racing for the Vitaphone Racing Team.
The Biturbo Group A raced successfully in the British Touring Car Championship during the late 1980s. Other races included the World Touring Car Championship and the European Touring Car Championship.
The company raced in Formula One from the 1940s through the 1960s. They had nine Grand Prix wins from factory teams. In addition, they also designed two Formula One cars: the Maserati 250F plus the 4CLT. They only reason they withdrew from racing was because of financial difficulties. Private companies continued to use the 250F through 1960.
After that, the company supplied engines to Team Cooper, a British Formula One group. Their most successful car was the Cooper-Maserati T81 featuring a V-12 engine. It was the winner of both the 1966 Mexican Grand Prix and the 1967 South African Grand Prix.
The RIAM or the Riverside International Automotive Museum is located in Riverside, California and it’s a non-profit museum. This museum isn’t just dedicated to Maseratis but does house the most extensive collection of the brand’s road cars in the United States. There’s an example from every model made since 1951.
The 20,000 square-foot facility was built in 2006. Not only do they offer numerous exhibits, but they host many business and public events throughout the year. The museum focuses heavily on the Riverside International Speedway as well.
Outside of the United States, there’s a Maserati Factory Tour held in Italy. This allows visitors to experience the evolution of the brand. They teach about the process required to produce these sports cars while offering a tour of the Modena plant.
The entire tour takes about an hour and a half. Afterward, they allow time to view the cars in the Maserati store. Located in the corner of the showroom, there are also two service bays. This is where visitors get to see the restoration projects happening.
Maserati financial services are provided by Maserati Capital USA, owned by Chase Financial Services. They offer several options for the purchase or lease of a new Maserati vehicle. The lender currently provides private-label financing for other brands such as Land Rover Financial Group, Jaguar Financial Group, Mazda Capital Services, and Enterprise Auto Finance.
As part of options available during purchase, one of the most popular is the Maserati Premium Prepaid Scheduled Maintenance. This provides the chance to keep all the required services performed on the vehicle for one price. The local dealer keeps the car on a routine maintenance schedule that consists of checking and replacing components, changing fluids, and other services without requiring additional costs.
There are more than 100 Maserati dealerships located in the United States, and they have over 400 worldwide. When looking for a Maserati dealer, it’s important to read reviews and look for prestigious honors.
The company itself doesn’t seem to award the dealer with any particular achievement, but there are several other sources you can look at. DealRater gives out Dealer of the Year Awards and Customer Satisfaction Awards to dealers that deserve the accolades.
Dealer of the Year awards require a minimum of 25 reviews in the year with a minimum 4-star rating. Currently, there’s only one dealer that meets these requirements and it’s Maserati Alfa Romeo of St. Petersburg in Florida.
They also award dealers with Consumer Satisfaction Awards. They have an extensive list of dealers that receive annual recognition for the locations that provide the best service. To become eligible, they must remain in the top 10% of the other dealers as far as customer service ratings are concerned.
Another resource is the J.D. Power Dealer of Excellence listing, but there aren’t any Maserati dealers listed there at this time.
5 Interesting Facts about Maserati
1 – Before they made cars, the company was known for its innovative spark plugs.
2 – Maserati engines have powered racing boats over the years.
3 – There have been a total of five owners for the brand: the Maserati brothers, the Orsi family, Citroen, Alessandro de Tomaso, and finally Fiat.
4 – Maserati competed with Volkswagen during the war to create a vehicle that Mussolini would love. While they didn’t win, they worked hard throughout the competition.
5 – Maserati has used some of the greatest drivers in the world. This includes Juan Manuel Fangio, Tazio Nuvolari, Stirling Moss, and Alberto Ascari.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where are Maseratis made? Every model is made at locations inside of Italy. These include the Modena plant as well as Maranello and Cuneo. At the Modena location, each worker is allotted 28 minutes to work on each vehicle, allowing for 35 cars to be produced each day.
Are Maseratis Reliable? Most luxury sports cars aren’t overly reliable. When the break, the parts are costly and they tend to have several issues including unreliable brakes and they are prone to stone chips in the wheel arches.
Is Maserati Italian? Yes, the company was founded in Italy and still keeps it production plants in the country.
Does Maserati make an SUV? The Levante is the Maserati’s SUV. It has a turbocharged engine and rides like a sports car. Inside, they offer plenty of gadgets including an 8.4-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. For 2019, a new Trofeo model became available.
Do Maseratis have Ferrari engines? The F136 is a motor often referred to as a Ferrari-Maserati engine. It’s a 90-degree V8 motor that’s developed in partnership between Maserati and Ferrari. They feature 4.2 to 4.7-liter displacements and produce between 385 and 597 horsepower. All of these engines are naturally aspirated with dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing. They’ve been placed in the Quattroporte and Ferrari California T.