Bringing me to the Maserati four-door. No, doesn't quite have the same ring does it. Quattroporte … rolls off the tongue rather better, doesn't it? And while the fast saloon market is now rather dominated by cars like the Porsche Panamera, Audi A7, Mercedes CLS and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe, Maserati's long-standing traditions in this field count for a lot. And just look how cheap they are now!
OK, time for a dose of realism. Buying a Maserati on the cheap is one thing. Running it another. An £80,000 car has £80,000 car running costs, no matter if the purchase price is a quarter of that or even less. But in creeps that dangerous 'what the hell' factor that would never apply to any of the German alternatives. And if I'm going to do a Quattroporte I'm going to do it properly.
That means one of the early ones with the much derided Duo Select automated manual gearbox. Transmissions have come on a long way in the last few years, be they dual clutches or slick-shifting autos. Even the supercars that first pioneered these automated manuals have abandoned them for their lack of refinement. Well, all but the Lamborghini Aventador, which trades on the brutal shifts as part of its macho character.
Launching a big saloon car but fitting it with an automated manual of this type and mounting it in a transaxle layout in the rear of the car to balance the weight distribution is the kind of dogmatic, idiosyncratic sense of tradition that appeals to me, even if the reality is ponderous automatic shifts, jerky manual ones and a need to drive round the gearbox rather than with it. That and an appetite for £1,500 clutches every 25,000 miles if you drive it in town. You'd never tolerate such a thing in a Mercedes or BMW. But to me in a Maserati it's all part of the legend.