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The Greatest Maserati Museum in the World in Photos

Nestled in quaint Italian farm country, Umberto Panini’s Maserati museum keeps the love alive.

Conner GoldenWriter, Photographer

Sprawling, multi-million-dollar automotive museums are all the rage these days. Between the complete overhaul of the venerable Petersen Museum here in Los Angeles a few years ago, to the sculptural Guggenheim-esque Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart, and the extensive open archives at the Ferrari museum in Maranello, there's clearly money to be made in housing automotive artifacts—but it wasn't always that way, especially for the Maserati museum.

You'd think for an automaker with such a rich history of motorsports glory, innovation, and impeccable design, Maserati would have a sculptural museum facility of its own to display significant cars from its  105-year history. In the 1960s, the marque housed most of its historical collection in a special area of its Modena factory. After a few highly publicized corporate shakeups over the ensuing decades, plans for a new museum separate from the plant materialized in the mid-1990s, only to collapse after former owner De Tomaso planned to send 19 of the most significant cars to auction.

Modena-the marque's longtime home-was devastated at the idea of losing this automotive heritage. Not content to let Maserati's heritage pass into historical obscurity, local farming magnate and Maserati super-fan Umberto Panini stepped up and purchased the entire collection as a package, eventually housing the historic fleet in a dedicated building on his sprawling Hombre farm.

Today, the Panini museum remains the preeminent venue to see some of the Trident marque's most incredible cars. Located in lush Italian farmland outside of Modena, it isn't exactly on the beaten path, so it's rare that even the keenest automotive enthusiast would have the opportunity to make the pilgrimage. As part of the Maserati extravaganza late last year, we got a rare chance to visit the collection, and made sure to snap a few photos to share what we found.

We've highlighted a few of our favorites, but check out the full gallery below to get a glimpse of the complete collection.

1953 Maserati A6GCS 53 Berlinetta by Pininfarina

Ferrari gets the lion's share of attention when the topic turns to shapely berlinettas of the 1950s and 1960s, but we're not sure anything wearing the cavallino rampante can match the absurdly voluptuous A6GCS 53 Berlinetta. One of the crown jewels of the Panini collection, this eye-wateringly exquisite coupe is one of just four such examples to leave the factory, essentially a fixed-roof variant of the A6GCS/53 spider, a barchetta designed to compete in the World Sportscar Championship. Powering this stunner is a highly developed 2.0-liter inline-six, pushing out a healthy 170 hp.

A Pair of Maserati Cup Cars

For a few years, Maserati was one of the better ways for wealthy privateers to dip their feet in motorsport with its longstanding and ever-evolving one-make series. Starting with the Ghibli Open Cup that ran two seasons from 1995 through 1996, Maserati offered race versions of the namesake coupes to race teams and well-heeled clientele. These weren't some half-measures, either; the 2.0-liter turbocharged V-6 was tuned to an impressive 316 hp, along with requisite race-ready modifications made to the suspension and the fuel, cooling, and braking systems. The interior gained a roll cage, racing seats with five-point belts, and a racing steering wheel.

The same level of race prep extended to the successor in 2003 with the introduction of the Maserati Trofeo-sometimes referred to as Trofeo Maserati-series, based on the Maserati Coupe of the early 2000s. Alongside a 550-pound deficit and conversion to full-bore GT-spec car, the Trofeo retained the stock 4.2-liter V-8 found in the street car, though power output is massaged to 414 hp though a less restrictive exhaust and revised engine mapping.

Maserati Tipo 63 "Birdcage"

Thanks to airtight restrictions levied by the various governing bodies behind major racing series, true innovation in motorsports is rare these days. Back before racing was as corporate and regulated as it is today, Maserati blew the lid off the sports car racing scene in 1959 with the introduction of the Tipo 61 "Birdcage" that fundamentally changed how race prototypes were designed.

Compared to the traditional chassis layouts at the time, the Tipo 61's use of an intricate chrome moly steel spaceframe (hence the nickname) resulted in both impressive rigidity and incredible lightness, the lightest of which barely spinning the scale at an ephemeral 1,257 pounds. Five distinct "Birdcage" variants were designed for varying series and regulations. The Panini collection includes a Tipo 61-the most well-known of the bunch-alongside a fabulously rare Tipo 63 fitted with a V-12 engine pulled from the 250F grand-prix car.

Maserati Merak Turbo Prototype

It's always fun to find a car the internet knows so little about, especially from a high-profile automaker like Maserati. What might appear as a regular Merak SS is actually the foundation of Maserati's well-publicized endeavor with forced induction in the 1980s and 1990s. Underneath that louvered rear decklid is a turbocharged variant of the longstanding Maserati V-6, the basis of which went on to power the ill-fated Biturbo.