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2/29/2004, 10:42:47 PM cet
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Modena, June 27, 2001

Maserati is a company with an even longer and more chequered history than
Ferrari, who were one of their main rivals on the racetracks of the world during the
nineteen fifties, and in the showrooms of high performance cars during the sixties
and seventies. The paths taken by the two companies were long and varied, but
eventually through the Fiat empire they became stable mates in July 1997, when
Ferrari acquired 50% of Maserati from Fiat, with an option to purchase the
remaining 50% before the end of the year 2000. They took up this option in
November 1999, and thus at that time Maserati became wholly owned by Ferrari.

As noted, in 1997 they purchased fifty per cent of the company from the parent Fiat
group, concurrently taking full management control. Their first priority was to bring
the production facility up to date, then instigate a five year investment plan, to
increase production of a new model range with an emphasis on quality control and
customer satisfaction, which had been lacking in the past, and which had tarnished
the company’s reputation.

To achieve the first objective, they closed the factory for six months, stripped out the
archaic machinery and installed a state of the art production line. This facility is the
most modern of any small series car manufacturer in the world. It carries the bare
painted bodyshell in a tiltable cradle suspended from a monorail, through different
work stations where different elements are added, eventually emerging at the end of
the loop as a complete fully functioning model, ready for its road test. Throughout
the production process there is a high element of manual labour, as befits the
handbuilt image of the Ferrari and Maserati marques. The management team and
workforce were recruited anew upon the re-opening of the facility, and there is an air
of commitment in their attitude in the workplace, with pride in the finished product. At
the time of writing the investment continues, with a new staff car park and
administration offices under construction, which should both be in use by the end of
2001.

Quattroporte
The Quattroporte model was substantially reworked, with over four hundred
changes, to become the "Evoluzione" model, and a completely new model the 3200
GT was introduced in 1998. The latter is the company flagship, and the hub of
production. It provides luxury 2+2 accommodation in an elegant coupe body, with a
front mounted 3.2 litre twin turbo V8 engine driving through a six speed gearbox,
with the option of automatic transmission, to provide a top speed of over 170 mph,
along with tremendous acceleration. Allied to this are powerful disc brakes
integrated with a sophisticated traction control system, which allow the power to be
used with maximum security.

Assetto Corsa
During 2000 Maserati produced a total of 2027 cars, 1850 of which were the 3200
GT, and the balance Quattroporte Evoluzione models. The Quattroporte ceased
production in March 2001 with the completion of a series of cars for Japan. A
replacement is being developed, but will probably not go into production for another
two years. The 3200 GT seems to established a niche in the market place, and is
apparently selling better than its Jaguar counterpart in a number of European
markets. At the 2001 Geneva Salon a limited edition ”Assetto Corsa” 3200 GT was
announced. Among the special features are lowered suspension and stiffer springs
to provide a firmer ride, fifteen spoke road wheels unique to this model with soft mix
Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres, plus red brake callipers with harder pads. The total
production run for all markets is just 350 cars, and parts will not be available for
standard production cars to upgrade them to ”Assetto Corsa” specification.

New Spyder
A new spyder model is in the final stages of development and testing, with its
launch scheduled for the Frankfurt show in September 2001, this model will be
produced with a keen eye on the American market, although the current 3200 GT
coupe will not be sold there. This is due to the fact that it would necessitate
considerable work to meet homologation requirements, which indicates that the
Spider will not just be a coupe with the roof removed. The company has not been
represented in the American market for some considerable time, thus re-
establishing a presence there is one of their next objectives. The Spyder (model title
yet to be announced) will go on sale in October 2001, with right hand drive
examples available at the end of November. It will have its American launch at the
Detroit show in January 2002, with sales starting shortly after through a network of
thirty dealers, some of which will be existing Ferrari dealers, as in a number of other
markets. Maserati is regarded as the growth potential element of the Ferrari group,
as Ferrari are already producing cars at their own conceptual maximum output to
preserve the exclusivity of the marque.

"Tridente"
The "Tridente" of Modena may not have the same mystique as the "Cavallino
Rampante" of Maranello, but its sporting reputation is well established with a fine
pedigree stretching back a long way. Now that it has the right product, sound
investment, management and philosophy, it should regain its prestigious image
and once again enjoy a healthy existence.


Keith Bluemel

Maserati 3200 GT
3200 GT Assetto Corsa in office reception
Leather and paint colour samples in office reception
V8 engine in Maserati reception area
Maserati 320S Study
Impressive new entrance structure
Maserati
3200GT on production line over a finished example, showing cradle on monorail
Almost complete 3200 GT on production line
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