To celebrate the company’s 100th year, Maserati recently inaugurated a special exhibition in Modena, Italy, entitled, “Maserati 100 — A Century of Pure Italian Luxury Sports cars.” Held in the Enzo Ferrari Museum, the exhibit features a fixed collection of 21 classic cars, as well as another 30 cars that will rotate through the displays over the exhibition’s six-month run through January 2015.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Maserati CEO Harald Wester said the timing for this exhibition was perfect, as it coincides with a raft of new, improved products for Maserati.
“Today Maserati is a thriving company, with new models that have proven hugely popular with an ever-increasing audience and others, in the pipeline, which will propel the company towards the prestigious goals that we have set,” he said. “This exhibition, which retraces our first century of history, is truly one of a kind: never before have all these models which have shaped our history been gathered together under one roof.”
While the Maserati 100 exhibition is open to the public, traveling to Modena, Italy, might not be feasible for every fan of classic Italian cars. To that end, we assembled this list of the ten coolest, most interesting cars on display as part of Maserati’s 100th anniversary celebrations.
1926 Maserati Tipo 26
The Tipo 26 is the first car to bear the Maserati name, and is derived from the previous Diatto GP 8C racing car. The Tipo 26 — its name came from its debut year — was relatively primitive, with leaf springs and cable-operated drum brakes, but it had plenty of power. A supercharger fed two carburetors, which in turn dispensed air and fuel to a 1.5-liter inline-eight engine rated for about 120 hp. The Tipo 26 weighed just 1587-1719 pounds and had a three-speed manual transmission (a four-speed was added in 1927), giving it a claimed top speed of 112-124 mph.
1929-1931 Maserati V4 Sport Zagato
A Maserati V4 set a new world speed record in September 1929, averaging more than 152 mph over a 6.2-mile race in Italy. The record wasn’t broken until 1937. The record-setting car was given a new body by Zagato in 1934, and has won awards at the famous Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance. Power for the car came from a 4.0-liter, V-16 engine rated for somewhere 280-305 hp. A version of the car also competed in the 1930 Indianapolis 500.
1946-1950 A6 1500
The Maserati brothers began development of the A6 in 1941, as company owner Adolfo Orsi wanted Maserati to build vehicles other than racing cars to satisfy its high-end clientele. The first A6 debuted at the 1947 Geneva auto show, with coachwork developed by Zagato and Pininfarina later adding a convertible body style. Initially, the car used a 1.5-liter straight-six engine with 65 hp, but from 1950 a 2.0-liter engine was added to boost output of the follow-up 2000 model to 130 hp.
1954-1958 Maserati 250F
Inspired by the A6GCM, the Maserati 250F was designed as a high-performance, single-seater that saw continual developments over its production run. A 2.5-liter inline-six initially delivered 240 hp, and the addition of fuel injection later bumped that to around 280 hp. Maserati used the car as a test-bed for developing aerodynamics ideas and for testing a Desmodromic valvetrain. In 1957, Juan Manual Fangio won the Formula 1 World Championship in a 250F.
1956-1959 Maserati 420M Eldorado
The 420M Eldorado was built for the 500 Miles of Monza race in 1958. The car, driven by Sir Stirling Moss, did well in the first two rounds of the race, but in the third the steering failed and sent Moss off track at 162 mph. Miraculously, he was unharmed. Under the hood was a 4.2-liter V-8 rated for 410 hp; the engine was mounted 3.5 inches to the left of the car’s center line to help weight balance. The manual transmission had just two forward speeds, but the car also sported disc brakes and its top speed was rated at 218 mph.
1957-1964 Maserati 3500 GT
The Maserati 3500 GT debuted at the Geneva auto show in 1957 and the car was meant to attract more buyers to Maserati showrooms. As the company faced economic troubles, relatively strong sales for the 3500 GT helped keep Maserati — and its racing efforts — afloat. The car’s aluminum body was designed by Touring of Milan, and the lightweight design kept mass to just 2866 pounds. Over 7 years, Maserati built more than 2200 examples of the 3500 GT. Motivation came from a 3.5-liter inline-six engine rated at 220 hp from 1957 through 1960, and 235 hp from 1961 through 1964.
1959-1965 Maserati 5000 GT
The Maserati 5000 GT was conceived when the Shah of Persia asked for a combination of the successful 450F racing car and the beautiful 3500 GT road car. The result was the 5000 GT, of which just 34 examples were completed. For the Shah of Persia, Touring of Milan provided the bodywork. Depending on the engine, its tuning, and the bodywork, top speed of the Maserati 5000 GT was between 155 and 170 mph.
1959-1960 Maserati Tipo 60 “Birdcage”
The Maserati Tip 60 earned the nickname “Birdcage” because its tubular steel latticework was clearly visible through a Plexiglass dome at the front of the car. The Tipo 60 had a 2.0-liter inline-four engine with 200 hp and a 168-mph top speed, and six examples were built. The car evolved into the Tipo 61, of which 18 were made, which had a 2.8-liter engine good for 250 hp and 177 mph.
1971 Maserati Boomerang Concept
This wedge-shaped concept car was designed by Giorgetto Giuigiaro and debuted at the 1971 Turin auto show. At that point, it was a non-functional display. By the next year’s Turino auto show, the Boomerang was road legal and had a 4.7-liter V-8 engine. Although the car itself didn’t go into series production, its wild wedge-like angles and shapes clearly influenced other sports cars of the era; it is occasionally cited as giving inspiration to the DMC DeLorean and Lotus Esprit.
2004-2005 Maserati MC12
Essentially a Ferrari Enzo in fancy dress, the MC12 packed a 6.0-liter V-12 engine good for 623 hp, 481 lb-ft of torque, and a top speed of 205 mph. When we drove the wild supercar in 2005, we said it was, “stupid fast and crazy capable, but that’s only to be expected when you’re spending enough money on it to capitalize an entire rental-car fleet. The surprise is that it’s so benign, compliant, and user-friendly — a supercar that Clark Kent could love.” Unveiled at the 2004 Geneva auto show, only 25 examples were hand-built. But when those sold out quickly, Maserati ordered another batch of 25. Still, it’s an extremely rare car.