Maserati, in full Maserati SpA, former name Officine Alfieri Maserati SA, Italian automobile manufacturer known for racing, sports, and GT (Grand Touring) cars. It is a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and is based in Modena, Italy.
Officine Alfieri Maserati SA was founded in Bologna, Italy, in December 1914 by the brothers Alfieri, Ettore, and Ernesto Maserati. Spark plugs were the company’s first major product, and during World War I Maserati made the devices for aircraft engines. The Maserati emblem, modeled from the trident held by Neptune in a statue in Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore, was designed in 1920 by Mario Maserati, a fourth brother not otherwise connected to the company. Alfieri Maserati drove race cars for other manufacturers before settling down with his brothers to produce the first Maserati automobile, a race car named the Tipo 26 for the year of its debut. The most remarkable Maserati of the 1920s was the V4, a 16-cylinder race car that was clocked at 154 miles (248 km) per hour in 1929.
Alfieri died in 1932, and a younger Maserati brother, Bindo, joined the company that year. The Italian driver Tazio Nuvolari won races for Maserati in 1933 and 1934, driving the eight-cylinder 8CM model. In 1937 the surviving Maserati brothers sold the company to the Modena industrialist Adolfo Orsi but remained with the business for about 10 years afterward. Orsi’s cash infusion allowed the Maseratis to continue to produce successful racing cars. The American racer Wilbur Shaw drove a Maserati 8CTF, the “Boyle Special,” to victory in the Indianapolis 500 in 1939 and 1940. During World War II Maserati once again concentrated on the manufacture of spark plugs but also made batteries and electric delivery vehicles.
After the war Maserati expanded its product line to include sports cars and gran turismo, or grand touring (GT), vehicles. A GT is a luxurious performance car, roomier than a sports car and better suited for long trips. The first Maserati GT was the A6 500, which went into production in 1948 with a six-cylinder engine and bodywork by Battista (“Pinin”) Farina of Turin. Maserati continued to build racing cars, however. The Argentinian driver Juan Manuel Fangio won the Formula One Grand Prix world championship in 1957 in a Maserati.