Views on Maserati's past, present, and future...

Discussion in 'Maserati' started by Merak1974, Jan 23, 2012.

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  1. Merak1974

    Merak1974 Formula 3

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    Gabriel R.G. Benito
    Many of us have opinions about Maserati's fortunes - and lack of it - throughout its almost 100 years of existence. Times have sometimes been good, perhaps more often not so good, but they have seldom been dull and predictable. Maserati is one of the rather few automotive marques people are truly passionate about - and for many good reasons.

    We tend to discuss, or simply be opinionated about, the changing fortunes of Maserati on occasion, typically as a sidetrack to a main topic in some thread. A good example is the current debate in the "Bora for sale - Thepenier Le Mans" thread about the misfortunes of Maserati during the Citroën and de Tomaso ownership regimes. Similar discussions can be found in the "Let's see some Meraks" thread, and several other.

    What some see as a change for the good (e.g. the modernization of the marque), or at least some temporary relief (cash...), others see as unfortunate steps towards its demise. The Citröen and de Tomaso years are in many ways the most fervently contested battlegrounds for the spirit and soul of Maserati. Some strongly feel they were their end, others do not. Some take a pragmatic view and regard them as a successful, if not optimal, paths to survival.

    Some are more passionate - either way - about the more recent FIAT regime. Yes, Maserati has, again, survived, but only as a second-fiddle to its main post-war competitor Ferrari. They are happy to see a steady stream of beautiful cars coming out Viale Ciro Menotti, but many also have strong opinions about what they think is a deliberate downgrading (or at least a lack of understanding) of one of automotive history's greatest brands.

    Our personal views and feelings tend to be shaped by early encounters. To me, the Citroën years were simply great. I was eight when Citroën came to rescue, our family car was then a DS, and the Bora, Khamsin and Merak stand out as THE cars of the 1970s. To others, they were overly rational and modernistic cars with too much French influence and too little Italian soul, but still elite cars. For those who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, Maserati may have been seen as merely an exotic alternative to BMWs and Audis...

    My personal view is that despite those shifting fortunes, the key fact remains that Maserati has survived and produced cars continuously for almost 100 years (85 years with its own brand). That is an incredible strength of the brand. Very few car manufacturers have done that. Of course, not all cars have been great, but many definitely have. Also, Maserati is not merely a resurrected brand (like Bugatti, Maybach, or for that matter Audi...) or simply badge engineering (like for example Bentley was for so many years); it is a real and distinct car company that has been putting cars together in its Viale Ciro Menotti plant for more than seventy years. We hope that will continue for many more.

    Walter Baumer recently gave an excellent list (on the "Bora for sale..." thread) of what could be done - in terms of product offer - to simultaneously exploit and develop the strenghts of Maserati and its brand. Here, I hope we can air our opinions and well-conceived thoughts and ideas about the past and present, and even possibly the future, of Maserati. Perhaps even someone in the relevant corporate spheres of FIAT takes notice.

    Best,
    Gabriel
     
  2. wbaeumer

    wbaeumer F1 Veteran
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    Mar 4, 2005
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    Gabriel,
    many thanks for opening this thread!

    I think the future of Maserati could be great - if the chaps at FIAT would try to understand WHAT Maserati is (..and was)!

    Lets make it clear - no car manufacturer today can survive with products, produced in this homeopathic numbers like with all (!) the classic Maseratis. Those days are over!

    But we are talking about a product here that is not essential. Nobody on this planet needs, really needs a Maserati! Its expensive, its rare, perhaps complicated, with not so much dealerships around. But its magic! Its a legend! It looks gorgeous!

    FIAT needs to understand the potential of the car!

    The German automotive industry is great to find a nishe for every car they produce, no matter if cheap or expensive (OK, Maybach was not soooo successfull....).

    But it seems to me that the talians are unable to get their cars positioned in the market. Only few examples proove that: see the FIAT 500. The car is successfull because its cute, the girlzzzzz looove it. So there are ONLY emontional reasons that make this car a success!

    But with the mid- and high-end cars the Italians are a complete failure. They have to stop protecting Ferrari and give all great brands like Alfa, Lancia - and Maserati their deserved image and independency!

    Imagine what Herr Piech would have done with all this brands....!

    Ciao!
    Walter
     
  3. staatsof

    staatsof Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Well, if they're listening I'm sure that remark will have an impact ... :)
     
  4. gcmerak

    gcmerak Formula 3

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    So far, so good! I like what I'm reading. :)

    Ciao,
    George
     
  5. MK1044

    MK1044 F1 Veteran
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    Gabriel, great idea for a thread.

    Walter said (elsewhere): A good strategy for Maserati would be:
    1. an entry-model. V6 or small V8, based on the Ferrari California-frame.
    2. the GranTurismo car as it is.
    3. the new QP VI with 4WD (from Ferrari) and V8- and V12-(de-tuned Ferrari FF) engine.
    4. forget the small QP!
    5. OK, get them this bloody SUV......!
    6. Ferrari should forget the FF and focus only on sport cars.
    7. to combine Lancia & Alfa Romeo and getting both great brands alive with V6-engines. The small QP-project should be forwarded to them.

    Walter, I agree with most of your strategy for the future. Except:

    3. I do not think that Maserati needs a V-12. I think a high torque V-8 is fine for road going cars, maybe tuned a bit differntly for the GT and the QP. Okay some people equate Italian exotic cars with V-12's. But the V-8 serves to distinguish the brand and certainly provides ample performance.

    5. I have not yet seen this Kubang. Where is it positioned in the market? About like that Porsche thing or a mid size Land Rover? I am not convinced that this would help the marque. I think it might confuse matters regarding public image.

    7. Yes, absolutely. Great idea. And reintroduce these/this brand to the USA market.

    That's mie due centesimi.
    Carmine
     
  6. MK1044

    MK1044 F1 Veteran
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    I like them all right through the French affair. I believe that the Khamsin is a worthy successor to the Ghibli. In the USA, what darkened the car's image was government mandated "safety" measures, high petrol prices, Citroen's own financial problems, and the like.

    As for the DeTomaso years, my knowledge of those cars is very shallow. My feeling is that the smaller cars (Biturbo, etc.) did not really look like Maseratis. They kind of look like FIATs. In the in the USA at the time, that was: "Fix It Again Tony". I don't know first hand but my sense was that they were unreliable. (However, others here say thay are good cars). I do like the Shamal, but they did not come here.

    Overall, the best I can think is that DeTomaso kept the marque alive. As has been stated by others, that continuity is significant. Maserati is not a resurrected marque but has a continuous history that Ferrari and Lamborghini cannot match.

    Under FIAT, I have the concerns of milking the name and thereby devaluing the marque. I did not care for the cars until about 2005(?) when the current generation appeared.

    The new cars I like. I do not care for the sales pitch of engines built by Ferrari. I don't want to see Maserati -- or Ferrari for that matter -- become the Cadilac and Buick and Oldsmobile of General Motors. I want to see the brands distinguished each on their own merits.
     
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  8. dave_fonz_164

    dave_fonz_164 Formula 3

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    Maserati's could be more powerful, lighter and come with better technology but I personally believe it's the best Italian brand at the moment for it's exclusivity, design, panache and cachet.

    Ferrari's are wonderful, but to a certain extent played-out and too many fan-boys. Maserati's have this special something that very few brands have.

    The current crop of Maserati's are fantastic and represent true Grand Touring the Italian way, with that Fantastic sounding V8.

    What they should do however is diversify their engine range and be more competitive against the Germans, with the possibility of a TT V8 or a TT V6. V12 should be reserved to Ferrari and Lambo
     
  9. staatsof

    staatsof Four Time F1 World Champ
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    You're correct, you need to read a bit more.
    Don't try and compare Maserati race history and Ferrari's. It's a losing proposition.


    I'd agree with your own assessment of your knowledge of the DeTomaso years.

    Sorry if this sounds a bit harsh but you can rectify this. There are plenty of books to read on these subjects.

    It's a miracle Maserati is still around. It's also a completely different marketplace now. I'm not sure how relevant any of this ancient history is for Maserati's future. As a marque, Maserati isn't suffering from any of this history. They need to look forward.

     
  10. MK1044

    MK1044 F1 Veteran
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    #9 MK1044, Jan 23, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2012
    Bob,

    I do not mean race history. I mean to say heritage. Particularly 90 years longevity with much innovation and great builds along the way.

    So would you defend the Chrysler TC as a worthy Maserati? I can only see it as a marketing gimmick. Again, if it pumped some money into the company to keep the company alive I can accept it. But as a sports car? Or a grand touring car? Or a Maserati? Not at all. This is what I mean about the DeTomaso years.

    Going forward as I've stated above for road going cars. But also I would really like to see some new racing effort. Fangio is long gone. I doubt that it would be factory sponsored because of the conflict with Ferrari, especially in Grand Prix. But I would really like to see some new racing effort.

    Carmine
     
  11. Merak1974

    Merak1974 Formula 3

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    Gabriel R.G. Benito
    I agree with you that the Chrysler TC was just a (bad) marketing gimmick. But, outside the US it really didn't matter. Even if someone in Europe had seen a TC it would of course not be taken as a Maserati; just a Chrysler with some Italian bling.

    It would be a bit like equaling Ferrari and Abarth because of the recent 695 Tributo Ferrari version of the FIAT 500 (http://www.abarth695tributoferrari.com/). :)
     
  12. Merak1974

    Merak1974 Formula 3

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    Gabriel R.G. Benito
    Carmine,
    Maserati is involved in racing - has been quite actively for the last ten years - although its current racing program is not very large. The MC12 was dominant in GT1 racing for 5-6 years, winning the World Championship in 2010. The Gran Turismo GT4 has had some success in GT4 racing in Europe and Brazil. Even the Quattroporte has been raced successfully: Bertolini won the Europe-based Superstars series last year! Finally, the factory organizes the Trofeo series in Europe and the Middle East.

    There's a thread on this forum that deals with Maserati racing: www.ferrarichat.com/forum/showthread.php?t=297314

    Gabriel
     
  13. staatsof

    staatsof Four Time F1 World Champ
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    It's not very clear what you mean by heritage. Ferrari has a ton more racing history. Maserati just starts earlier but they're relevance in that field is a long time ago now and the magnitude of what was accomplish is dwarfed by Ferrari's prodigious though more recent efforts.

    I'm not going to defend the man but if you're measuring DeTomaso by the TC you need to to do some more reading. He did many other things besides the TC which was a low point in terms abusing the companies image. I have had friends who were long time GT car owners going back to the 1950s (all gone now) and they bought TCs and enjoyed them for what they were. Eh, what ever?

    I would say that your vision for Maserati's future is fantastical. They are now the modern remnants of a very old car company that had a long and financially tortuous history. Rescued somewhat in-artfully by Fiat and Ferrari, they are now producing a couple of nice looking well made cars that reflect the GT road car heritage more than anything else. They are very much dependent upon Fiat's and Ferrari's technical prowess otherwise they would still be languishing with decades old technology. As such they have to fit into Fiat's plans. What else would be reasonable? Barring a sell off to someone else I expect that this is where they will stay. Any independent attempts at racing that don't fit Fiat's plans is not in the cards. F1 is a ludicrous thought. Thus far Fiat HAS managed to structure some racing activities for Maserati in it's efforts to revive them. The MC12 FIA-GT certainly demonstrated that. So going forward perhaps Fiat can figure out a reasonable formula for Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa and Lancia that better addresses this subject. But any extensive racing activities where either of them competes with the other is a non productive pipe dream. I can't envision Fiat letting them develop into a world class technology development leader. They already have Ferrari for that. Time marches on ...

    Like some others I'd like to see other smaller, lighter and more sporty models produced but I don't know that this fits Fiat's plans either. Apparently an SUV does. They may have missed the boat on that one though. They are way behind every other manufacturer unless there is some new ground breaking technology other than nice veneers, sumptuous leather and a reasonably potent engine on the vehicle. Where that market segment is headed is an interesting guessing game even for the big boys.

    From all accounts the MC Stradale is pretty darn performance oriented it's just so big and heavy. But at least they are doing that much. It's encouraging is it not?

    I think that we lovers of the older models expect a bit too much from this small company that's now plays a part in a much larger corporate structure.

     
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  15. Otto Paulsen

    Otto Paulsen Karting

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    Great thread, gentlemen.

    The Kubang, which I know only from pictures of the last Frankfurt show, seems to me like a BMW X6 clone. And the X6 in my opinion is a completely pointless car: Useless offroad, too heavy for fast driving, outright hideous and a clear indicator that the driver needs some more positive feedback.
    Maserati should build a SUV, I think, but not this one.
    Why not reinvent the Quattroporte idea? Today the SUVs do cover a part of the former market for big saloon cars. In the sixties Maserati put a great engine in a high-end four-door saloon. Today this would mean putting a great engine in a SUV. But not any SUV. The benchmark should be the Range Rover, which is the only high-end SUV I can see which makes sense.
    All the QPs are not "sporty" cars. Why should a Maserati SUV be sporty as the Kubang seems to aspire? It must have a lot of power and luxury, but does not need to do well on the Nordschleife.
    I'd like to see a big Range Rover type car from Maserati, doing the same they did with the four-door saloons in the sixties, when they invented the Quattroporte.

    My 2c.
    Best, Otto
     
  16. wbaeumer

    wbaeumer F1 Veteran
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    Carmine,
    reg. your reply to my point 7:

    Maserati would sell a QP VI with a V12 in good no.`s! The new markets like China, India etc. are going nuts on that. Same in Saudi Arabia etc.!
    Look to Mercedes and BMW - their high-end cars are selling very well in that countries.

    I know a collector of VERY high end cars (250 Cal.-Spyder SWB, 250GTO, 300S, 450S, etc.) who had his QPV when he ordered a V12-QP on the spot when rumours came up that Maserati want to produce such a car. Unfortunately it remained a rumour....).

    And even VW makes the Phaeton with V12....

    Ciao!
    Walter
     
  17. wbaeumer

    wbaeumer F1 Veteran
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    Maserati`s race program within the last 7 years was very successfull.

    BUT - it did not win the crown-jewels. The Holy Grail for sports racing cars are the 24 Hrs of Le Mans.

    Maserati should fund a project for that. Yep, it would need tons of cash to be successfull there - but it brings back what nobody can purchase with cash alone: reputation & image!

    Ciao!
    Walter
     
  18. staatsof

    staatsof Four Time F1 World Champ
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    They should compete with Range Rover who has a very long history of producing 4WD vehicles that actually work in an off-road environment?

    As a buyer I think I'd pick the Range Rover because it will undoubtedly be better serviced with an actual dealer network in the USA and they are nicely finished with a decent amount of power. I don't get why Maserati can be competitive in this market segment. Perhaps I'm missing something?


     
  19. staatsof

    staatsof Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Maybe in the GT class but how in the hell could they fund going toe to toe with Audi or Peugeot?

    Maybe they think they already achieved what was needed with the MC12?
     
  20. wbaeumer

    wbaeumer F1 Veteran
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    Well, they almost always think different.....

    Ciao!
    Walter
     
  21. MK1044

    MK1044 F1 Veteran
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    Hi Gabriel,

    Thanks for making me aware of this. I suppose that I've not been paying attention to this what with other distractions in life. I stand corrected.

    Carmine
     
  22. MK1044

    MK1044 F1 Veteran
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    Hi Otto,

    I'm glad you said it. I've been thinking along similar lines. In the USA, the SUV might compare to a Cadilac Escalade, which is a huge luxury car that no one would ever actually drive off road, much less use to tow a boat.

    Most SUV's here are street cars. Many have insufficient ground clearance, etc.. It's more for: the "look", higher driving position, ease of passenger entry and exit, the sitting in your parlor feel, etc.. There are actually quite a few formal limousines that are simply large SUV's or built from "stretched" large SUV's.

    So although those are not "my cup of tea", I could see such a market spot for Maserati here. They would likely take some of the top end of the market from Cadilac, Lincoln, Hummer, Land Rover, ...

    Carmine
     
  23. velocetwo

    velocetwo F1 World Champ

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    I think the SUV is a good idea similar to what Porsche did.

    Maserati should represent speed and high end luxury, more luxury than any other Fiat offering. That said they can use any of the chassis in the Fiat fleet to build a Maserati. This may not be what old Maserati fans want to hear, but it makes business sense and sales are important.

    In addition I think they need to turn the designers loose now and then to really make some wild high end designs to build the image.

    The name Maserati has huge marketing power maybe more than Ferrari, and they should use this to sell different brands of clothes and furniture etc...
     
  24. Otto Paulsen

    Otto Paulsen Karting

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  25. Merak1974

    Merak1974 Formula 3

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    Walter,
    I think you have an excellent point: The 24h le Mans is a black spot in Maserati's racing history, and winning it would give the marque a wonderful boost. Unfortunately, Maserati hasn't been in contention for neither overall nor class victories since the mid-1960s.

    If I remember correctly, the MC12 was denied participation for basically all its active racing life. It was not until it had won the GT1 championship several times that it was permitted to take part. Unfortunately, Maserati chose to concentrate on the new GT1 World Championship (which it won) and decided not to participate when it had the chance. Still, the MC12 could of course only hope for a class win at best.

    If the rules are changed to give petrol cars a fair chance agianst the diesels in the premier class, I sincerely hope FIAT sees the opportunity to support a truly focused Maserati effort at taking the 24h le Mans crown. Ferrari is not engaged in prototype sportcar racing so there shouldn't be any conflict on such a move.

    Gabriel
     
  26. staatsof

    staatsof Four Time F1 World Champ
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    I can see it now, briefs & boxers with a trident on the front ... :rolleyes:
     
  27. staatsof

    staatsof Four Time F1 World Champ
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