By Rosie Ogden
Earlier this week, the Maserati Centennial was marked by the placing of a plaque at No.1 via de’ Pepoli in Bologna, which will permanently recall the company’s first workshop, opened on December 1, 1914, the day that Alfieri Maserati and his brothers Ettore and Ernesto began what was to become a triumphant chapter in Italian automotive history.
It was on a Tuesday in the heart of Bologna, that the three brothers opened their “car repair workshop and garage”.
The “one-man business registration application” was submitted ten days later at the nearby Palazzo della Mercanzia, in what is now home to the Bologna Chamber of Commerce. The application was accepted and registered four days later. This was the start of Maserati’s long history – based in Bologna until 1939, and centred in Modena since then.
The plaque reads as follows:
“Società Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati” was founded in this building on 1 December 1914.Thanks to the genius and labours of Alfieri and his brothers Ettore, Ernesto and Bindo the company went on to gain international fame and prestige thus contributing to the world’s awareness of Bologna’s excellent industrial identity”.
“The plaque is a symbolic tribute to an anniversary of fundamental importance to Maserati. In fact, we are celebrating the Centennial in a particularly significant year for us,” said Harald Wester, Maserati CEO.
“2014, which marks one hundred years since our company’s foundation, is also the year in which the Quattroporte and Ghibli have beaten all previous sales records; in which the American market – with the Ghibli – and the Chinese market – with the Quattroporte – have amply rewarded the efforts we have made to offer a new, beautiful, competitive product, truly capable of responding to market demand; it is the year in which the GranTurismo and GranCabrio sports cars have continued to achieve international success.
“It is the year of the Alfieri, an amazing concept car built to mark the Centennial, named after our founder, which explores the Brand’s stylistic heritage while looking ahead to its future design language. It is the year in which customers and fans celebrate our glorious past, enjoy a present in which the product range is wider than ever before, and look eagerly forward to the near future: the launch of the Maserati SUV, to be followed by the Alfieri, as the concept car goes into production.”
Maserati CEO Harald Wester was accompanied by Carlo and Alfieri Maserati, sons respectively of Ettore and Ernesto Maserati, the two brothers who were at Alfieri’s side in December 1914.
Carlo Maserati, Ettore’s son, declared: “100 years have passed since Uncle Alfieri created ‘Società Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati’ and it is now 116 since 1898, when his eldest brother Carlo, then just seventeen years of age, built a motorbike fitted with an engine he had designed and built himself at home; an event that thrilled his brothers and inspired them to follow his example. We all know the engineering and racing results they achieved under both the Maserati and the OSCA names in almost 70 continuous years in business.
“This longevity was founded on the perfect understanding within the family and engineering skills that enabled them to build a racing car in just six months. As I commemorate my father Ettore and my other Uncles Bindo, Ernesto, and Mario, I would like to thank all those who have enabled Maserati to live on and assure it further successes in the future.”
Alfieri Maserati, Ernesto’s son, recalled: “Founded as Officine Alfieri Maserati in 1914 this business, springing from the enterprising spirit and genius of its founder, my Uncle Alfieri, continued in operation after his early death in March 1932 thanks to the dedication and extreme personal sacrifices of his brothers. I feel I must mention the extraordinary engineering and design creativity of the youngest of them, Ernesto Maserati, my father. The period witnessed the birth of an amazing series of both Grand Prix cars and Voiturettes, as well as world-beating cars that actually held as many as 13 international speed records simultaneously.”
The centenary celebrations culminated in an International Gathering, which started in Bologna in September with exhibitions, parades, a regularity competition, a track practice session, guided tours of the two Maserati plants in Modena and Grugliasco and a Concours d’Elegance, with more than 200 cars from all over the world taking part.
For the marque’s fans, the exhibition ‘MASERATI 100 – A Century of Pure Italian Luxury Sports Cars’ will remain open in Modena until the end of January. Housed in Modena’s futuristic Museo Enzo Ferrari, it allows visitors to retrace the firm’s history with a display of approximately 20 of its key road and racing models.