100 years of the trident

The Italian marque started by five brothers celebrates its centenary this year

It may be hard to believe, but Maserati is turning 100 years old in December and the Italians have already kickstarted celebrations that will take place throughout the year.

RACING START: Maserati made the Tipo 26 to race in the Targa Florio in 1926.

Founded by five speed-loving brothers of the Maserati family, the company started out building racing cars for the track which even included one that Thailand's Prince Bira used in F1 championships during the 1950s.

Interestingly, it was only 33 years later after the Trident was born that Maserati began developing road cars. The first was the A6 which had gorgeous looks encompassing the brand's sporty heritage.

Many of the ensuing cars had been penned with the help of Italy's famous design houses such as Bertone and bore nomenclatures named after winds including Khamsin, Shamal and Mistral.

In common with many other exotic marques, Maserati endured a number of different owners which even included Citroen at one point in time. Today, it is owned by Italian conglomerate giant Fiat Auto and pools its resources with both Alfa Romeo and Ferrari.

By next year, the suits at Maserati hope to take annual global sales to a new level of 50,000 units, to be bolstered by a number of models to take on Jaguar, Porsche and BMW.

Just last year, Maserati established a two-pronged attack on the luxury saloon market with the Quattroporte and Ghibli. Later this year towards its centenary, it will launch its first-ever SUV called Levante for a segment viewed by the industry to experience continual growth in the coming years.

It's also rumoured that Maserati may start building smaller, cheaper sports cars sitting beneath today's GranTurismo and GranCabrio.

ROYAL CONNECTION: From a Thai perspective, the 250F of the 1950s is significant because it was the model driven by Prince Bira in Formula 1.

STREET LEGAL: Maserati’s first road car arrived in 1947 with this stunning A6, powered by a 2.0 litre straight six. Note the striking face prominently featuring the Trident badge.

MEAN MACHINE: Built to satisfy FIA GT Championship rules in 2004, the MC12, right, was essentially a rehashed Ferrari Enzo powered by a 630hp V12, making it the most potent Maser to date.

TWO-WAY STREET: The Bora was Maserati’s only mid-engined V8 made specifically for the road in the 1970s. There was also a V6 variant called the Merak for cost-conscious punters.

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About the author

columnist
Writer: Richard Leu
Position: Motoring news Editor