Belle macchine: the biography of Maserati

Motor Sport readers have the chance to win one of four copies of the award-winning marque biography Maserati: The Family Silver. Author Nigel Trow explains how he came to write its captivating history

Maserati team before the 1931 French Grand Prix at Montlhery with Clement Biondetti, Luigi Parenti, Luigi Fagioli, Ernesto Maserati and René Dreyfus, Pietro Ghersi

The Maserati team before the 1931 French Grand Prix at Montlhéry, which was held over 10 hours. From left, the 26Ms of Clement Biondetti/Luigi Parenti, Luigi Fagioli/Ernesto Maserati and René Dreyfus/Pietro Ghersi. Biondetti/Parenti would fare best, finishing third

Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

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It took a long time. In the 35 years following my first trip to Modena in 1965, I wrote much about Lancia, with Maserati a happy memory. Then, at the turn of the century, the old Bolognese firm clicked back in focus. An A6G Allemano coupé was advertised in Motor Sport for a sum I could afford. I didn’t buy it, but the idea of a new Maserati history took root.

Cars for their own sake never interested me. Shape, engineering, provenance and history are what matters. All cars have history, of course, but it is not always worth writing. I surveyed the Maserati literature and discovered that, other than the comprehensive Luigi Orsini and Franco Zagari book Una Storia nella Storia – 1945 ad oggi, no other complete account existed. Many excellent model histories, but no deep study. I made notes.

When I turned up for the first time in 1965 at the factory on Modena’s Viale Ciro Menotti I knew little of the company’s background, other than that it had moved there from Bologna in 1940, three years after Adolfo Orsi bought it. It was an unostentatious red-brick place, wholly suited to the Maserati style and the people I was to meet. A warm, casual openness characterised both. “Of course you can see it all. Just ask.” Not like Ferrari, which I had visited the day before. There, I had been given a 275 GTB to photograph, which was nice but no, I couldn’t see the factory, and no one was available to talk. The staff pulled the covers off a couple of old Testa Rossas, a V12 and a four cylinder they wanted to get rid of. Would I like to buy one – £1000 each? (They were still kicking around in Milan 18 months later. The price had risen to £1500).