2009 Maserati GranTurismo S

Mark Bramley

After a brief recce to make sure I don't flatten any cyclists, I climb back into the Maserati and blast around the banking. Even at 100 mph, the car bucks awkwardly on the bumpy pavement, and I can only imagine how miserable the drivers must've felt back in 1958, saddled with solid axles and ladder frames. "I could see air between the tires and the road," Dan Gurney, who attended the race as a spectator, had once told me. "Musso looked like he was hanging on for dear life. And when Phil Hill got back to the pits, he was completely wasted. Of course, that was better than Moss, who almost got wasted when the steering broke while he was flat-out on the banking, chasing A. J. Foyt, and he destroyed several yards of guardrail before grinding to a halt. He later wrote in his diary, "I was sure I was going to be killed.

After leaving Monza, we hightail it through Switzerland and arc into France at a healthy clip that spotlights the Maser's best attributes. The GranTurismo S leaps from 0 to 60 mph in less than five seconds (according to Maserati), and with massive, low-profile Pirelli PZeros at each corner, the car has plenty of stick. But it's a big car that seats four adults and weighs more than two tons, and carving through Alpine passes isn't its forte. As its name suggests, the GranTurismo S is built for covering vast distances at prodigious speeds. Snugged into its firm but supportive seats, with my hands curled around the beefy steering wheel, we sail effortlessly through the French countryside. My only gripe is the gearbox. Even in automatic mode, the car lurches forward during brisk upshifts, and the normal semiautomatic mode isn't as satisfying as a true manual. Only when the MC-Shift is engaged does the gearbox seem world-class. But do you really want to make every run to Starbucks at full throttle?

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