A Look Back: Maserati Quattroporte celebrates its 56th birthday with a nod to its royal lineage
Italy has been the historical home for luxury performance cars for a century. The Maserati Quattroporte has been around for half that time, serving as a coach for royals and high-ranking government officials since its birth.
The Quattroporte traces its roots back to the Maserati 5000 GT known as The Shah of Persia. Only 34 models of the coupe were produced. The first was delivered to Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the last King of Iran. Other buyers included Karim Aga Khan, the son of Prince Aly Khan; Gianni Angellini, the head of Fiat; and Adolfo López Mateos, the President of Mexico.
Maserati traces the roots of its Quattroporte back to the 5000 GT.Photo courtesy of Maserati
Series I of the Quattroporte kicked off production in 1964 and ran through 1966 with 230 units produced. It was equipped with a 4.1-liter V8 engine that achieved 260 horsepower and was paired with a five-speed manual transmission. A three-speed Borg Warner automatic transmission was available upon request.
The second iteration of the Quattroporte, Series II, included many upgrades including twin headlights, a leaf-sprung solid axle, and a completely redesigned interior. The dashboard was now trimmed with real wood fascia. The Series II was offered with the 4.1-liter base engine, as well as a new 4.7-liter power plant that delivered 290 horsepower. The Quattroporte 4700 was equipped with the larger engine and had a top speed of 158 mph making it the fastest four-door sedan in the world at the time. Maserati made 776 Series II models by the time the generation ended in 1969.
The second generation of the Maserati Quattroporte debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 1974 and went into production shortly thereafter. The Quattroporte was nearly dead on arrival. Due to a downturn in the economy and the company's financial woes, Maserati produced just 13 Quattroportes between 1974 and 1978.
The Maserati Quattroporte Royale was a luxurious take on the new generation of the sedan.Photo courtesy of Maserati
The Quattroporte made a triumphant return to dealership lots in earnest in the late 1970s. In December 1979 the tradition of Quattroportes being owned by the world's elite, continued with the delivery of a Quattroporte to Italian President Sandro Pertini at the Quirinal Palace in Rome.
This version of the sedan featured a more high-end interior than Maserati's had before. It was powered by variants of the engines available in the first generation Quattroporte. The car was on the market until 1990. Maserati sold 2,145 Quattroporte IIs.
In 1982, an order was placed for an armored Quattroporte for the President of Italy, Sandro Pertini, to use. The model, with a Dark Aquamarine paint job featured a beige velvet interior. Its large ashtray featured a pipe holder between the rear seats, a modification to the original design requested by Pertini himself. There was also a bar cabinet, telephone system, and intercom that could address people outside the car. All four windows were electronically controlled, as was the roof.
The interior of the third-generation Quattroporte was significantly more upscale than the first and second generation.Photo courtesy of Maserati
In 1986 the "Royale" version of the Quattropporte was launched as one of the most luxurious to date. It had soft leather seats, burr walnut dashboard and door panels, a radio telephone, and a stow-away folding table. Under its hood was a powerful 4.9-liter V8 engine that achieved 300 horsepower. Just 51 Royale models were built.
The car became more closely associated with celebrities in the 1980s. Famous Modenese tenor Luciano Pavarotti was one of them. Today, the list of celebrities who have driven Maseratis is long. Singer Gwen Stefani, soccer star Lionel Messi, Olympic champion Apollo Ohno, comedian Jay Leno, and Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper make the roster.
Luciano Pavarotti poses in his third-generation Quattroporte.Photo courtesy of Maserati
The Quattroporte is still the official car of the President of Italy. Current President Sergio Mattarella used a sixth-generation version of the sedan with a Blu Istituzionale paint job and Black Piamo (black lacquered wood) interior that is paired with Pieno Fiore leather. The model was powered by a 530-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V8.
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