There were no less than five Maserati brothers involved in the racing of both cars and motorcycles. Alfieri, Bindo, Ettore, Ernesto and Mario made up the Maserati dynasty, tragically sixth brother Carlo died in 1910 and there was even a seventh brother that died at birth. In 1926 the five brothers built their first 1.5 litre racer, and soon after Alfieri had a class win in the Targa Florio
Technically speaking, there was a Maserati car manufactured in 1925 for Turin manufacturer Diatto, this being manufactured as a Grand Prix car, however this was sleeved down to produce the first 1.5 litre Maserati. At first the brothers concentrated on the exclusive manufacture of racing cars, however in 1932 Alfieri was tragically killed in a racing accident. Mario left the business to become an artist, leaving three to carry on, however by 1937 the company was struggling and industrialist Adolfo Orsi gained a controlling interest.
The remaining brothers would sign a ten year consultancy agreement, however on its expiry they left the company to form OSCA sports cars. Orsi and his son Omer were forced to find somebody extremely talented to fill the void left by the departure of the Maserati brothers, and a genius they did find, in one Gioacchino Colombo (who had already gained experience at both Ferrari and Alfa Romeo).
He would oversee production of masterful race cars such as the 250F, which Juan Fangio piloted to victory in the 1957 Driver’s Championship. That same year the company released their first real road car, the 3500GT coupé. By 1966 the road-going line-up had swelled in number, to now include the Quattro Porte saloon, Mexico V8 coupe and Ghibli. These were all more traditional front engined cars, and Maserati being the company that they were (and still are) needed a mid-engined iteration to take the fight up to Ferrari – and thus begat the wonderful Bora V8 of 1971.
In 1971 the Orsi family sold their interest to Citroen, who wanted access to the technology of high performance engines to enhance the engineering on their upcoming SM coupe. In fact, the SM was quite a car, affording the best of French road-going design with one of the sweetest V6 engines under the hood, courtesy of Maserati. Citroën bailed in 1975, allowing Alejandro DeTomaso (with some financial backing from the Italian government) to take control, however it was always a struggle for survival for the company. Nevertheless some fantastic sheet metal left the company, such as the Kyalami coupe, Khamsin 2+2 and V6 engined Merak. In 1993 the company was taken over by Fiat.
Also see: Maserati Heritage