Zagato and Maserati: history and gallery

Automotive Design 29 May 2015
Zagato and Maserati: history and gallery

On the occasion of the presentation of the Mostro Concept, Zagato has published a document and a gallery of photos and illustrations that give an overview of the history of its collaboration with Maserati.


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The 1960s: Zagato and the Maserati Brothers for OSCA

In 1948, the Maserati brothers surrendered their stake in the business to the Orsi family (having entered as shareholders in 1937 when Orsi bought the company) and founded a new company for themselves called Officina Specializzata Costruzioni Automobili (OSCA).

Zagato maintained a strong relationship with the Maserati brothers based on their common philosophies oriented towards racing cars, and so collaborations continued with OSCA.

1953 Zagato OSCA 4500 V12 Coupe

In 1951, the Milanese coachbuilder made a coupé body for the third of a triptych of competition chassis (the first two made as single-seaters) that was equipped with a 12-cylinder, 4.5 liter engine.

In 1960, the small Bologna-based company, having grown in fame and authority in the category of sports cars, commissioned Zagato to make a limited-series of a GT coupé.

Osca 1600 GT Zagato - Credit RM Auctions - Photo by Tom Wood

The first model traced by Ercole Spada, the Osca 1600 GT Zagato became one of sportiest, most fascinating of its era, fast on the road and competitive in racing.

1984 Maserati Biturbo Spyder

In the late 50s, the activities of Carrozzeria Zagato reached a semi-industrial size. The official collaboration with renowned sports brands of the period pushed the company to move, in 1961, from Milan to a larger production site in Arese, near to where the future headquarters of Alfa Romeo would be built. In this plant, the company began its production of fuoriserie road and racing cars at ever-increasing rates to meet industry demand.

1984 Maserati Biturbo Spyder Illustration

In 1984, the collaboration with Maserati resumed at full speed. Alejandro De Tomaso, enchanted by the one-off A6G/54 Spider, awarded Elio and Gianni Zagato the task of creating the design and production of the Biturbo Spyder.

1984 Maserati Biturbo Spyder

Distinguished by a shorter wheelbase of 11 centimeters, compared to the “closed” version (that was adjusted in order to strengthen the chassis and harmonize it with the body), the Birturbo Spyder retained the same six-cylinder, two-liter, twin-turbo engine.

Stylistically, it was characterized by a fabric roof that, once lowered, disappeared into a special compartment created by the new design of the rear.

In 1989, the model evolved with a new version equipped with a more powerful, 2.8-liter engine. In the same period, the commercial push also launched in the American market, where it was sold with a 2.5-liter engine and catalytic converter. In total, production reached nearly 7,000 units.

1988 Maserati Karif

One of the most distinctive features of the 80’s was the phenomenon of an ‘Instant Classic’ automobile. A few current production cars were included in this exclusive club of prestige models and were identified immediately as collectibles.

1988 Maserati Karif Illustration

Zagato, consistent since the beginning under the philosophy outlined by the founder (two-door, two-seater sports cars, bodied as coupés or spiders) lended great impetus to the Instant Classic niche with various designs in limited series.

1988 Maserati Karif Illustration

In 1988, along with the Biturbo Spyder, Maserati entrusted Zagato with the job of creating of a special version. The Karif was a coupé developed on the chassis of the Spyder, though shorter and stronger than the Biturbo, and was distinguished by its small, fixed hard-top. This two-door, slim lightweight, capable of 280 hp (225 hp on U.S. model) was produced in just over 200 units. In the same period, Zagato was assembling the four-seater, coupé version for Maserati named 228.

2007 Maserati GS Zagato

In 2007, at the request of Maserati’s CEO Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, Zagato prepared a V-Max Concept (prototype prepared and capable of reaching its maximum speed) as a preview of an imminent, limited series.

2007 Maserati GS Zagato Illustration

The Maserati GS Zagato, which had been presented at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, celebrated the A6G/54 Coupé Zagato.

2007 Maserati GS Zagato

To create this model, the Milanese atelier had chosen the mechanics of the Spyder 4.2 with a shorter wheelbase of 180 mm, with respect to the coupé, in the same way that had been done for the Karif. Born in the Neoclassic automotive era, which was developed by Zagato in the first decade of the New Millennium, the GS Zagato was designed through virtual reality modeling and handmade with sheets of aluminum on a master model (on a scale of 1:1).

This is the approach of a modern atelier, using the latest design technology and expert craftmanship for the process of construction.

The change in Maserati’s management prevented the production of this model, which would have married the performance of Ferrari’s eight cylinders to a lightweight, short-wheelbase and compact body in the best tradition of the two brands.

(Source: Zagato)

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Image Gallery

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