There are a lot of people out there who should be familiar with the name of Maserati. After all, it is one of the most famous Italian manufacturers of luxury cars that can be found out there, having been a long-time competitor to other famous names such as Ferrari. With that said, it should be noted that while Maserati is successful at the moment, it has had a rather colorful history, so much so that it has been on the verge of financial ruin on more than one occasion over the course of its existence. As a result, it is no exaggeration to say that if Maserati had been a little less lucky, it is probable that it would have vanished into the dust bin of history like so many of the other car manufacturers that started out at around the same time. However, now that it has been such a famous name for so long, it has built up a momentum that cannot be constrained by purely financial considerations, meaning that it is probable that it will continue forward even if it runs into financial problems once more in the future. After all, brand names are not meant in a single day, meaning that a well-known brand name like that of Maserati is worth much more than what can be immediately made off of it.
Here are 20 fun facts that you may or may not have known about Maserati:
Named For the Maserati Family
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Maserati is named for the Maserati family. To be exact, it is named for the six sons of Rodolfo and Carolina Maserati who managed to make it to adulthood at around the turn of the 20th century. Different brothers contributed to their car manufacturer to different extents at different times in different manners, but in the end, all six of them contributed nonetheless. As a result, the Maserati that came to be would have been unrecognizable without each one of their contributions.
Started Out with Race Cars
Regardless, Maserati started out as a maker of race cars. After all, a number of the Maserati brothers had been involved in making race cars for an another Italian car manufacturer. As a result, when that car manufacturer decided to stop making race cars, the Maserati brothers decided to start up their car manufacturer, thus resulting in Maserati. Overall, they seem to have done quite well, as shown by the fact that the Maserati brothers managed to win more than a few car races as they continued to compete.
Its Logo Is Based on a Fountain
People who are familiar with Maserati should be familiar with its trident symbol. It is interesting to note that the trident symbol comes from a foundation. To be exact, the trident symbol comes from the Fountain of Neptune, which is as much a civic monument as it is a fountain situated in a square in Bologna. The choice to use the trident symbol was suggested by a Maserati family friend, which was accepted by the Maserati brothers because they figured that Neptune was a solid choice to represent their car manufacturer. After all, Neptune represented the strength that they wanted in their cars, while serving as a well-known symbol of their home city. For that matter, it should be noted that while Neptune was the God of the Sea, he was also the God of Horses, meaning that it can be said that there was a connection to racing as well.
Founded in Bologna
Speaking of which, since the Maserati brothers chose a symbol of their home city to represent their car manufacturer, it should come as no surprise to learn that Maserati was founded in Bologna. Said city might not be as well-known as places such as Rome, Milan, and Florence, but it is nonetheless significant in its own right, seeing as how it can be considered one of Italy's top ten cities by population size. With that said, it is interesting to note that Bologna's origins can be traced to the Etruscans, meaning that it actually predated the Roman Empire. Over the course of its existence, Bologna has changed hands from the Gauls to the Romans to the Goths and to numerous others, meaning that its history is at least as rich as the history of those Italian cities that are better-known than it.
Now Headquartered in Modena
However, it should be mentioned that Maserati being situated in Bologna is something from the past. Currently, its headquarters can be found in Modena, which is famous for being home to multiple Italian car manufacturers at one point in time or another. Like Bologna, Modena has some rather ancient origins as well, so much so that the historians are unsure of the exact time of its founding. However, there is enough information to say that Modena has actually been refounded on a number of occasions, as shown by the time it was hit by such a great flood in the 7th century that it wasn't reclaimed until the 9th century.
Bought Out By Adolfo Orsi
In time, Maserati ran into serious financial problems, though it still retained plenty of potential. As a result, the car manufacturer was bought out by a businessman named Adolfo Orsi, who proceeded to move it to his home city of Modena. It should be mentioned that Orsi was a rather interesting figure in his own right, seeing as how he had come from humble beginning before going on to become a rich and powerful businessman with stakes in more than one industry. In fact, it seems probable that Orsi had more reason besides pure sentiment for moving Maserati, seeing as how its new location was situated close to his steel plants as well as his spark plug manufacturer.
The Maserati Brothers Remained At Maserati For Some Time
With that said, the Maserati brothers actually remained with Maserati for some time because they signed a contract to remain with the car manufacturer that bore their name for a period of 10 years. As a result, they continued to make important contributions to Maserati's successes, not least because they counted capable car engineers among them. Once the contract ran out, the Maserati brothers left Maserati before going on to found O.S.C.A. in their home city of Bologna. Amusingly, O.S.C.A. ended up being bought out by another Italian car manufacturer as well, which resulted in the Maserati brothers continuing to work for another Italian car manufacturer as well.
Interrupted By the First World War
Given the time at which it was founded, it should come as no surprise to learn that Maserati's operations were interrupted by the First World War. After all, Italy participated in the fighting as a member of the Entente, which was rather interesting because it had actually wriggled its way out of an alliance with Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire by arguing that said alliance had been purely defensive in nature, meaning that it wasn't obligated to go to war along with those two powers because they were responsible for starting the war. Regardless, it was Ernesto Maserati who had to take charge of Maserati while his brothers went off to war.
Interrupted By the Second World War
Likewise, Maserati's operations were interrupted when the Second World War broke out as well. In fact, Maserati outright abandoned making cars so that it could make components that were needed for the Italian war effort as part of the Axis. Still, that did it stop it from competing to make a town car for the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. After the Second World War came to a close, Maserati was able to make a return to car manufacturing, with the result that it soon found success as a car manufacturer once more.
Won the Indianapolis 500
Maserati continued competing in races for some time following its buy-out by Adolfo Orsi. For proof, look no further than the races that it managed to win during those times. In particular, it is interesting to note that Maserati actually managed to win the Indianapolis 500 on not one but two occasions, with the first being 1939 and the second being 1940. These back-to-back wins are impressive in their own right, but what is most interesting is that they made Maserati the sole Italian car manufacturer to ever win the Indianapolis 500, meaning that they are that much more special.
Its Team Included Alberto Massimino
Of course, Maserati could not have managed to win without securing the right talent for its car racing team. One excellent example of its search for talent is how it secured the car engineer Alberto Massimino from 1944 to 1952, who proceeded to work on a number of important projects for the car manufacturer along with other well-known names of the time. It is interesting to note that Massimino brought considerable expertise and experience to the project, seeing as how he had worked for not just FIAT and Ferrari but also others before continuing on to Maserati.
Its Team Included Juan Manuel Fangio
Another example of the talent secured for Maserati's car racing team was Juan Manuel Fangio, a race car driver from Argentina who is still remembered as one of the all-time greats of Formula One racing. After all, he dominated the first decade of the motor-sport, so much so that he set records that remained unbroken until Michael Schumacher came along. Moreover, he didn't just win the World Championship of Drivers five times, he did it by competing for not one, not two, not three, but four separate teams, which included Maserati. In other words, there can be no doubt that Juan Manuel Fangio was a true legend.
Stopped Participating in Races Because of a Tragic Incident
In the 1950s, Maserati stopped participating in car racing competitions because of a tragic incident at a 1957 event. For those who are curious, what happened was that a Ferrari suffered a blown tire while moving at 250 km per hour. As a result, it didn't just go out of control, it went out of control by smashing into the crowds who were watching the competition from the side of the road at sufficient speed to kill not just the car driver and his co-driver but also ten of the spectators. Most unfortunately, those spectators included five children, which explains why an attempt was actually made to charge Enzo Ferrari with manslaughter.
It Still Had Some Involvement with Car Racing
With that said, it can't be said that Maserati cut its ties with car racing altogether. After all, it continued making race cars for privateers, which refers to competitors who were not sponsored by a particular car manufacturer. However, there was a significant step-down compared to what Maserati had been doing before it decided to get out of car racing. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that the car manufacturer sought a new source of revenues, which is why it chose to focus on grand tourers.
Found Success with the Maserati 3500 GT
Maserati's choice to focus on grand tourers turned out to be a correct one, as shown by the success of the Maserati 3500 GT. For proof, look no further than the fact that Maserati started making hundreds and hundreds of cars on an annual basis, which was a huge step-up compared to around a dozen cars on an annual basis before that point. As a result, it can be said that the success of the Maserati 3500 GT was critical in ensuring the survival of the Italian car manufacturer in those times, not least by making it known to a much wider customer base that would continue to be interested in its products.
Created Car Because of the Shah of Persia
For example, the Maserati 3500 GT managed to impress the Shah of Persia, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. However, that was not enough for the Shah, who asked Maserati to make another car by inserting an engine from a racing car into the chassis of the Maserati 3500 GT. The resulting vehicle was the Maserati 5000 GT, of which no more than 33 cars were ever made. The first example was sent to the Shah, while the other examples were customized for the personal preferences of their buyers, all of whom were individuals of note for the simple reason that sheer exclusivity eliminated anyone else.
Maserati Went Into Administration At One Point in Time
At one point in time, Maserati actually went into administration, which is when the leadership at a particular business has to appoint an administrator from the outside to take charge when it becomes incapable of meeting its outstanding obligations. Sometimes, administration leads to major changes to make the business viable once more. Other times, it is no more than the prelude to the wind-down. As for why Maserati was in such dire straits, what happened was that Adolfo Orsi had struck up a deal with an Argentinian dictator, which made it rather difficult for him to collect with said individual was deposed by a revolution. Moreover, Maserati ran into similar problems with the Spanish government, which combined, were enough to send it into administration.
Bought Out By Citroen
As a result, Maserati had to be saved by being bought out by a French car manufacturer named Citroen. Adolfo Orsi remained on with the corporation as its titular head, but Maserati went through extensive changes, which is perhaps unsurprising considering what had happened under Orsi's leadership. Said relationship provided benefits to both sides, seeing as how each one made use of the techniques and technologies of the other. In the end, Orsi sold his remaining shares in Maserati to Citroen upon leaving the car manufacturer, though by that point in time, Citroen already owned the majority stake, meaning that it was in control.
Had to Be Saved By Alejandro de Tomaso
Unfortunately, Maserati would go on to run into serious problems once more. This time, what happened was the oil crisis in 1973, which resulted in widespread economic problems throughout much of the western world. As a result, Maserati saw massive drops in the number of people who were interested in buying Maserati cars, which was something shared by its owner Citroen. In fact, Citroen got into so much financial trouble that it had to be rescued, so it should come as no surprise to learn that Maserati almost got liquidated. Fortunately, a team-up between the Italian government and an Argentinian businessman named Alejandro de Tomasco, who was already the owner of a car manufacturer of his own before going on to own even more businesses.
Sold to Fiat
Initially, it was the Italian government that owned most of Maserati. However, de Tomasco would go on to buy the remaining ownership stake. After which, he proceeded to sell partial control of both Innocenti and Maserati to Fiat, which eventually led to the retiring of Innocenti but the retention of Maserati. Eventually, de Tomasco sold the remainder of his ownership stake to Fiat, with the result that Fiat became the sole owner of the car manufacturer. Currently, Fiat continues to own Maserati, though it is amusing to note that Maserati went through some significant ownership changes under Fiat's corporate umbrella. For example, much of Maserati was owned by Ferrari at one point in time, though it should be noted that at the time, Ferrari was still under Fiat's corporate umbrella as well. Ferrari is credited with restoring Maserati to a significant extent, though that relationship came to an end when Fiat decided to pair Maserati with Alfa Romeo instead.
Written by Garrett Parker
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