History of Maserati

Posted on 15-06-2021 by Bisma Trunkwala

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Brands: Maserati

The famed Maserati logo, the trident, was a creation of Mario Maserati. The inspiration for the logo was taken from the iconic statue of Neptune in Piazza Maggiore. It stands as a symbol of strength and vigor. Mario also adopted the red and blue colours from the banner of the city of Bologna which till date, remain the colours of Maserati.

The Italian word for luxury is ‘Lusso’, but it might as well be Maserati. On 1st December 1914 in Bologna, Italy, the sons of the railroad worker employed by the Italian monarchy, Rodolfo Maserati and his wife Carolina Losi; the Maserati brothers opened Officine Alfieri Maserati. At the time they could’ve hardly imagined the impact they created worldwide. Alfieri, Bindo, Carlo, Ettore, Mario and Ernesto: Six brothers united by a dauntless passion for cars and engines. Their vision, enthusiasm and experience proved to be the heart of what would, one day, become a global brand recognized as a symbol of excellence in the field of engines. 

The paramount of the company was formed by Alfieri, Ettore and Ernesto. They were all predominantly engaged in technical and commercial matters of their new enterprise, they all, at one point, sat behind the steering wheel of their racing cars on the golden days of motor racing. Bindo, the fourth brother, joined the company when Alfieri died in 1932 and a fifth brother Mario is credited with designing the famed Maserati logo. 

Carlo was the eldest of the Maserati brothers. He built his first single-cylinder engine at the age of seventeen. Quite instantly, he was hired by Fiat as a test driver, meanwhile in Turin, he built his own first car in his free time. The car was made of a wooden chassis and a single-cylinder engine, this was the first Maserati car in history. In the following years, Carlo worked for Isotta Fraschini and Bianchi, where he became a racing driver, but he never lost his passion for design engineering. In 1908 he became the CEO of the Milan-based firm Junior, before founding his own firm in 1909, where he wanted to pursue an aircraft engine. Carlo Maserati tragically died the next year, by a daunting lung disease. 

Before Carlo Maserati died, he introduced his brother Alfieri, aged only sixteen years, to Isotta Fraschini. Alfieri instantly amazed Isotta Fraschini, who then employed him as a mechanic before promoting him as a racing driver. In 1913, Alfieri opened his own garage in Bologna, where he provided services for Isotta Fraschini cars. In 1914 he brought his brother into the company and together they founded Società Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati. But to their dismay, a few months later the First World War broke out. Alfieri and his brother Ettore were enlisted, while Ernesto, just seventeen years old, worked in the garage during the day and pursued his technical studies in the evening. 

After the war ended, the Maserati Brothers moved their garage to a more suitable, larger premises in Ponte Vecchio area of Bologna. Here Alfieri, Ernesto and Ettore worked on the development of the first Maserati in history. Mario Maserati, the artistic brother having little interest in cars or racing, was given the task of designing the company’s logo. Taking the advice of Marquis Diego de Sterlich, a great friend of the family, Mario chose to use one of the symbols of the city of Bologna: The Trident of the statue of Neptune on the fountain in Piazza Maggiore. The blue and red colours chosen for the logo were also those of Bologna itself. 

In 1920, Alfieri Maserati returned to the racing circuits, first driving a SCAT and then a Nessel Dorf, but he was not satisfied with the performance of the cars, and so, the following year, he decided to create his own first racing car, putting together an Isotta Fraschini chassis and the Hispano Suiza engine. The car was revealed to the world on July 24 1921 at the Mugello Circuit, achieving an impressive second place, victory following two months later. This led to the press asking questions about this man called Maserati, in a car he built himself, winning races ahead of the more famous marques. 

However, in 1925, five years later, the company Alfieri was working for called Diatto, withdrew from racing due to financial reasons, and so the Maserati Brothers decided to buy ten Diatto 30 Sport chassis, which were used to produce the first cars to bear the Trident logo.  in 1926, they launched the Maserati Tipo 26, development of Diatto GP 8C featuring Alfieri’s designs, making his dream come true. Alfieri saw many victories in the early thirties; their first international win was at the Tripoli Grand Prix in 1930, and success kept coming as the company was producing a sequence of cars. Alfieri Maserati also received the respectable title of Cavaliere del Lavoro from the Italian Government, but he died in 1932 during a surgery on the only kidney left to him after a terrible accident in 1927. The Maserati brothers were mourning, but they did not give up. Bindo left Isotta Fraschini and joined the family firm, as Chairman, thus carrying forward the history of the Trident Marque. 

Even though Maserati cars were selling like hot cakes, it felt under sustained pressure from the new German brands, Mercedes and Auto Union, which were strongly supported by the government of Third Reich. Ernesto, Ettore and Bindo felt the country needed a decisive change of direction, and so they welcomed the collaboration of famous Italian entrepreneur Adolfo Orsi. Like the Maserati brother’s he was a self-made man and in 1937, the brothers sold the entire company to him. Orsi handles the finances of the company but does not interfere in the technical side of things, in which he has no expertise. Finally free from the other distractions, the Maserati brothers focus on what they do best in the world of racing. 


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