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Street-Spotted: Maserati Quattroporte

Autoweek logo Autoweek 4/21/2020 Jay Ramey
a car parked on the side of a road: Maserati offered the first-generation Quattroporte in the U.S., but it was a niche model with just 776 units built in total. This model kicked off the marque's lineage of luxury sedans. © Autoweek Maserati offered the first-generation Quattroporte in the U.S., but it was a niche model with just 776 units built in total. This model kicked off the marque's lineage of luxury sedans.

The Quattroporte has been the Trident's recognizable luxury yacht since it was reintroduced to the States with the debut of the 2003 model, but we had a feeling few buyers of the latest Qportes had even seen many of the marque's earlier four-doors in real life. Indeed, you'd have to go back at least a couple of decades to find examples of the third-gen model that ruled the 1980s and that, until the last two generations arrived, had been the bestselling version of Maserati's big sedan. And you'd have to go back even further to spot one of the rare first-gen cars.

The first-gen Qporte is what we spotted some time ago, and it's one of the relatively few examples that came to the States, even though Maserati offered it back in the day.

a car parked on the side of a road: Just under 800 examples of the first-gen model were built. © Autoweek Just under 800 examples of the first-gen model were built.

The first big Maser arrived in 1963 as the marque ventured into a new segment, looking to expand sales. The 1963 model debuted at the Turin motor show amid a busy time for boutique European marques that wanted a slice of the luxury sedan pie, at the time largely divided among German and British automakers. Maserati's recipe paired a 4.1-liter V8 with a body styled by Pietro Frua, featuring a tall airy greenhouse with sleek and stately bodywork later adopted in coupe form by the Maserati Mexico.

That first Quattroporte was not a big sedan by any measure—certainly not by the standards of American sedans of the time—but the long overhangs and the airy cabin gave it well-balanced proportions. The V8, meanwhile, produced 260 hp, giving the car a top speed just shy of 150 mph. Heady stuff for the time. It was certainly more of a driver's car than a chauffeured limo to be driven in, especially if you optioned it with a five-speed manual transmission over a more relaxed three-speed automatic.

Halfway through the first-gen model's run Maserati upgraded the engine from a 4.1-liter V8 to a 4.7-liter, dialing power up to 286 hp, making it even more of a performance competitor to the big Mercedes and BMWs.

a car parked on the side of a road: The first-generation Quattroporte was offered in the U.S., but the production run was not huge. © Autoweek The first-generation Quattroporte was offered in the U.S., but the production run was not huge. of

Of course, in reality the hand-built Quattroporte was much more of a niche offering than those of the Germans. And with a production run spanning six years and 776 built, the Quattroporte did not really make the sales charts when it came to European luxury sedans for the period, unless we're looking at companies like Bentley and Rolls-Royce. But it certainly made the Italian luxury sedan charts, because only Lancia had something in this size category at the time, the Flaminia sedan.

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