Great Drives: 2009 Maserati GranTurismo S Automatic

Don Sherman

Travel experts call Modena, Italy, "the land of engines," prima facie evidence that this Emilia-Romagna city warrants a visit. The De Tomaso, Ferrari, Maserati, and Pagani marques were either born or were nurtured here.

Maserati's newest offering - the GranTurismo S Automatic, endowed with a well-mannered ZF six-speed automatic transmission - served as our sightseer's express. Blasting the broad boulevards to the accompaniment of Maserati motor music is the ideal way to salute Modena's maestro, Luciano Pavarotti.

At the Maserati works on Viale Ciro Menotti, don't miss the carbon-fiber-reinforced road sweeping through the lobby that's substantial enough to support a Quattroporte. Inside the factory, 700 craftsmen and one robot build thirty cars per day on two well-orchestrated assembly lines. Tours of manufacturing areas can be booked through your Maserati club or dealer.

In 1930, Enzo Ferrari established his first scuderia (racing headquarters) just off the Garibaldi Square at 11 Viale Trento e Trieste. He and his wife, Laura, lived in a second-floor apartment and later across the street. Unfortunately, progress has replaced the seminal site with a bank branch, but Ferrari's birthplace on the north side of Modena, at 264 Via Camurri (renamed Via Paolo Ferrari), has at least been preserved.

The Modena Autodrome - located on Viale dell'Autodromo, just over a mile from the scuderia - was an airport that served as Ferrari's test track and the home of the Modena Grand Prix. Today, it's a public park with only one hint of the blood and oil spilled over the years - a towering sculpture (above right) commissioned in 1998 by Piero Lardi Ferrari on the centennial of his father's birth.

The Scaglietti carrozzeria (coachworks) on Via Ottorino Respighi, two miles southeast of Modena's center, is where Ferrari bodies are manufactured, but secure fences block any real view of the metal-forming activities.

A more hospitable destination is the Stanguellini Museum tucked inside the new car dealerships at 756 Via Emilia Est, just down the street from the Hotel Real Fini, where Ferrari racing drivers were traditionally lodged. Arturo Vicario, who once tuned the small-bore sports roadsters and Formula Junior single-seaters wearing the Stanguellini badge, gave us a tour of the red racers and historical artifacts spanning a full century.

Toast your visit to Modena with a glass of Lambrusco and lunch at Ristorante Europa 92 on Stradello Nava. Enjoy the local cuisine savored by the late Pavarotti, who owned this restored seventeenth-century stable and lived in the appropriately grand villa next door.

The Specs: 2009 Maserati Granturismo S Automatic

On sale: Now
price: $125,900
Engine: 4.7L V-8, 433 hp, 361 lb-ft
Drive: Rear-wheel

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