The history of Maserati began at the end of the nineteenth century in Bologna, Italy, where Rodolfo Maserati and his wife produced seven sons between 1881 and 1898. Five of the surviving boys became auto engineers, designers, and builders. Mario was the lone painter though he is believed to have designed the Maserati Trident.
The brothers spent years working in auto industry whether it was for Isotta Fraschini, Fiat, Bianchi or others. Alfieri Maserati left his position in customer service at Isotta Fraschini to rent space in Bologna’s historical district at Via de Pepoli in 1914 and started the first Maserati headquarters.
Majority of the brothers remained at Isotta Franchini while Alfieri designed and raced Diattos. It wasn’t until after the end of WWI the first all-Maserati car in history came out of the shop, the Tipo 26. Alfieri himself drove the car to its first victory in its class in the Targa Florio.
Throughout the 1930s, Maserati produced several record-setting racers, including the 1929 V4, with its 16-cylinder engine, and the 1931 8C 2500, the last car designed by Alfieri before he died. The Depression years were hard on the company, and the brothers sold their shares to the Orsi family and moved Maserati’s headquarters to Modena. During World War II, the factory produced machine tools, spark plugs, and electric vehicles for the war effort, then returned to building race cars with the A6 1500 at the end of the conflict.
Maserati picked up legendary Formula One driver Fangio in the 1950s. He piloted the 250F to a win in the car’s debut at the Argentine Grand Prix. He was the driver of a 250F in 1957, too, when Maserati took home the World Title for the fifth time. The company decided to exit the racing scene on that high note. It kept its hand in, though, by producing the Birdcage and prototypes for private teams and supplying Formula 1 engines for other builders, such as Cooper.
In the 60s, Maserati focused on production cars, like the 3500 GT, which debuted in 1958, and the 1963 Quattroporte, the company’s first four-door sedan. In 1968, French auto maker Citroen bought the shares of the controlling Orsi family. Thanks to Maserati’s engine, a Citroen SM won the 1971 Morocco Rally.
Some of the most famous cars in Maserati history, like the Bora, Merak, and Khamsin, were produced in the early 70s before the global gas crisis took full effect. The auto maker, like many others, hit the skids, and Maserati was saved from closure by the Italian government. Argentinian Formula 1 driver Alejandro De Tomaso, along with the Benelli company, helped resurrect Maserati, and in 1976, they launched the Kyalami. The 80s were a quiet period for the company.
Then in 1993 Maserati and Fiat’s paths crossed again in a partnership that lasted until 1997 when Fiat sold Maserati to Ferrari. Maserati celebrated by building a new, updated plant in Modena and producing the 3200 GT.
Symbol of prestige
The Maserati badge is a traditional symbol of the town where the brand’s factory was first built, Bologna, before being moved to Modena. It is composed by a red trident above a blue base, which represents Neptune’s trident.
History tells that the only Maserati brother that wasn’t particularly passionate for cars and engineering, Mario, was the one that created the Maserati logo, basing its design on the Neptune’s statue at Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore.
The logo is believed to first have debuted when Alfieri launched the Tipo26 in 1926.