The Quattroporte
"Quattroporte... the fastest four-door saloon in the world."

Photos and text courtesy of Ermanno Cozza

Following the launch of the Quattroporte IV in 1994, an article in the November 1994 issue of 'Ruoteclassiche' described the Quattroporte as:

"A car of great pedigree with a sumptuous interior. In 1963, Maserati departed from the confines of the sporting coupé to produce a luxury saloon with the performance of a gran turismo. A challenge that even Ferrari never took on. A lineage that has passed through many models and survived up until the present day."

The devoted Maserati clientele of the 'sixties derived great satisfaction and pleasure from driving the 3500 GT, the first Italian-style 'gran tusismo' coupé. But these same customers aspired to own a roomier car that was as fast and reliable.

In those years, the market was divided amongst the Ferrari GT 2+2s, Maseratis, Jaguars, Aston Martins and the large substantial saloons from Rolls Royce, the Mercedes 300SEs and the Jaguar Mark X, which had a maximun top speed of 200 kph (125 mph).

The original production Quattroporte by Pietro Frua

Since attempts in the United States to produce high performance saloons had failed from the start, Maserati was also rather reluctant to take that path, fearing that the domestic and international markets were not ready to hail such a high-prestige product.

In the long and distinguished history of the Casa del Tridente, the Quattroporte was the one car that created the most controversy within the company, with Adolfo Orsi in favour of its conception and his son, Adolfo, against.

In 1961, Pietro Frua designed this 5000 GT for the Aga Khan

Its journey into production was a long and arduous one: it presented the factory with many technical problems never encountered before and continuation of this project required great courage on their part: for the success of such an important and innovative car was by no means guaranteed. From its inception the only thing that was certain was its power unit: it would be fitted with a V8 engine.

Sig. Ermanno Cozza, Maserati's official archivist recalls a comment made to Comm. Orsi, while they were bench-testing the 450S engine, with its 430 bhp at 8000 rpm: "Questo motore farebbe la gioia degli americani, se convenientemente addomesticato e montato sulle loro grosse berline." And Orsi replied "Chissà che un giorno non la faremo noi una grossa berlina." "This engine would be the joy of the Americans, if it were properly tamed and put into their big saloon cars." "Who knows?" replied Comm. Orsi, "Maybe one day we WILL build a large saloon car". In the meantime, that engine was mounted on the 34 5000 GTs built in the early 'sixties.

Reduced to 4136 cc, it cranked out 260 bhp at only 5000 rpm, with excellent torque at only 3000 rpm. The gear box was the trustworthy ZF S5-325 manual 5-speed and Borg-Warner automatic transmission was available as an option. To give the car a sportier driving style, despite its 2750 mm wheelbase and its fully-laden weight of some 2000 kg (1700 kg dry weight), the choice of rear axle went to the De Dion of the legendary 250F and 300S. The innovative unitized frame was formed of sheet metal box sections.

The 4.2-litre V8-cyl engine developed 260 bhp @ 5000 rpm

The sheet metal box section chassis

The design and bodylines were the logical evolution of a 5000GT Prince Karim Aga Khan ordered from Pietro Frua in 1961, consequently the design (and the construction of the very first cars) were by Pietro Frua. During the production period the body was built by Maggiora in Turin, and the painting and assembly carried out by Vignale.

Like the design artist he was, Frua had no difficulty in harmonizing the new saloon, endowing it with a low-belted line that left room for a spacious window area and sharply bobbed tail. Known according to traditional factory numeration as the Tipo 107, the Quattroporte was unveiled at the Salone di Torino in November 1963, along with the Mistral coupé, also designed by Frua.

The bodyshell of the Quattroporte

The new saloon could comfortably accomodate five occupants, who could stow their luggage in an ample 25 cu ft of trunk space. The car could reach 230 kph (over 140 mph) and accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in 8 seconds. At cruising speed (over 200 kph/ 125 mph) the Quattroporte offered lavish comfort for long trips: no other saloon could beat it!

The seats were upholstered in Connolly leather, the side windows highly curved for their time had electric lifts, while air conditioning was offered as an option. Production of the first version began in 1964 and reached a total of 260 units.

In 1966 some aesthetic improvements were added: the single rectangular headlamps were replaced with two pairs of roundlamps to permit licencing of the car in the United States.

The interior was completely revamped and enriched with burred walnut on the dashboard and door panels. Air conditioning was added to the standard package (in those days, it was the only car in the world, along with the Rolls Royce, to come off the production line with that system).

Its spacious interior could accomodate five adults

The most significant modification, however, was the replacement of the De Dion with a rigid axle that ensured quieter driving, especially over imperfect road surfaces. In 1968 an alternative version was presented with a 4700 cc engine producing around 300 bhp: together with a weight reduction of some 50 kg, this gave the car a top speed of 245 kph (over 150 mph). In 1969, the first series Quattroporte was discontinued after totalling 770 production units.

The wooden dashboard of the Quattroporte - 1966/69

The first series Quattroporte was the car coveted by the most important industrialists of the day, as well as actors and film stars such as Marcello Mastroianni, who had both versions, Alberto Sordi, Stewart Granger Anthony Quinn and Peter Ustinov, who still drives his today, and famous figures including the Aga Khan, Leonid Breznev, Prince Rainier of Monaco, Conte Volpi di Misurata, tenor Mario Del Monaco and singer Luciano Taioli, just to mention a few.

The Quattroporte can hold its weight today, in terms of both interior and performance, and is still driven in maximum safety and comfort. Lastly, of all the collectors' cars available today, it has probably the best quality-performance-price ratio.

Quattroporte 1a serie Quattroporte 2a serie

"I have been reading your pages with interest many times. Iím restoring a Khamsin and I have found a lot of useful information from your resources. OK itís time to give something back... I have for almost two years owned a series I Quattroporte (AM107/170) and I noticed that you donít have any good pictures of a series I, especially one from the 200 first built. I have attached some pictures that you can publish if you want. Not much but at least something...

Best regards,


Daniel's beautiful Quattroporte 1a serie, one of only 200 produced.

Thank you for sharing it with us, Enrico.


Body type 4-door 4/5-seater Luxury Saloon

Production years From 1964 to 1969

Engine Front engined V8 cylinder @ 90°

Bore and stroke 88 mm X 85 mm (93.9 x 110 mm)

Engine capacity 4136 cc (4709 cc)

Compression ratio 8.5:1

Maximum power 235-bhp @ 5500 rpm (290 bhp @ 5200 rpm)

Distribution Four overhead camshafts, two valves per cylinder

Induction system No 4 twin-choke down-draught 38 DCNL5 Weber carburettors

Ignition Single with Marelli distributor

Lubrification Forced with pressure pump

Transmission Rear wheel drive

Differential De Dion (Rigid axle)

Clutch Dry single plate

Gearbox Manual 5-speed and reverse (optional automatic transmission)

Chassis Sheet metal box section

Front suspension:- Independent wheels, coil-springs,
telescopic shock-absorbers and anti-roll bar

Rear suspension:- Semi-elliptical leaf-springs,
telescopic shock-absorbers and anti-roll bar

Brakes Hydraulically operated disc brakes on all four wheels

Wheelbase 2750 mm

Wheel tracks Front 1390 mm    Rear 1403 mm

Tyres Front:- 205 x 15    Rear:- 205 x 15

Dry weight 1700 kg (1650 kg)

Overall length 5000 mm

Overall width 1720 mm

Overall height 1360 mm

Maximum speed 230 kph (245 kph)

Models constructed 770

Brochure for Quattroporte 1a serie

Brochure for Quattroporte 2a serie

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