Maserati's corporate slogan - ?Excellence through passion? ? has been in evidence since the brand first began in December of 1914. The Maserati brothers, Alfieri, Bindo, Carlo, Ettore and Ernesto, were involved in automobiles from the turn of the century, and by 1926, they were producing race cars that would win various Italian races like the Targa Florio. Initially associated with Ferrari, Maserati's lasting image is that of high luxury.
Ownership changes hands
By 1940, the remaining Maserati brothers sold their interest in the automaker to the Adolfo Orsi family, who relocated the company's headquarters to Modena, Italy, where it remains. The Maserati family stayed on board as engineers. In 1939 and 1940, Maserati became the first Italian automobile manufacturer to win back-to-back Indianapolis 500 races.
World War II intervenes
The Second World War briefly halted automotive production at Maserati. The automaker was drafted into the Italian war effort, which included a race to create a V16 towncar for Benito Mussolini before Volkswagen could great a similar vehicle for Adolph Hitler.
While VW beat Maserati to the punch, peacetime brought Maserati back to prominence. The A6 series fared particularly well in the post-war racing, as did other models in the Maserati stable. Yet a tragedy during the 1957 Mille Miglia race in Guidizzolo, Italy, prompted Maserati to shutter its racing team. Driver Alfonso de Portago blew a tire and plowed into a crowd of spectators, which resulted in multiple casualties.
On the road
Road cars became Maserati's focus after 1957. Engineers Giulio Alfieri and Pietro Frua produced numerous models, including the six-cylinder 3500 2+2 aluminum-bodied coupe and the Quattroporte, Maserati's first four-door vehicle. The automaker's first convertible appeared in 1969.
CitroÃ«n takes over
French automaker CitroÃ«n took over Maserati from Orsi in 1968. While Adolfo Orsi stayed on as president, Maserati changed significantly. New models in greater numbers were released, and Maserati engine technology and hydraulics entered into various lines of CitroÃ«n SM cars.
Former racing driver Alessandro de Tomaso of Argentina joined Maserati as managing director in 1975. Through various connections, de Tomaso arranged for the Benelli motorcycle company to buy out Maserati from CitroÃ«n. The resulting infusion of new models powered Maserati into the 1980s.
Mid- to front-engine transition
Maserati moved from mid-engine to front-engine, rear-drive cars during the 1980s. This cut production costs yet sacrificed none of the performance for which the automaker is known. Team-ups with Chrysler proved only somewhat successful, however, and bankruptcy loomed. This led Maserati to change hands in 1993. Fiat purchased the luxury Italian automaker, and it has experienced a renaissance ever since.
Yet Maserati never forgot its roots. Ferrari, with which Maserati had been associated in its earliest days, bought 50 percent of the company from Fiat in 1997. Within two years, Ferrari had full control of Maserati, and it kept Maserati as its luxury flagship.
Since early 2002, Maserati has enjoyed its largest market in the U.S., where its luxury road cars are coveted. A recent partnership with Alfa Romeo has been particularly profitable.