Maserati has been without a museum of its own since 1993. That changed yesterday, albeit temporarily, and Goodwood Road and Racing was first through the doors for a look.
Maserati’s centennial exhibition is being held in the unlikely surroundings of the new Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena – unlikely because Il Commendatore had little time for his rivals; he once refused to greet the Italian PM simply because he had arrived in a Maserati.
Despite the unlikely juxtaposition – maybe Italians don’t do irony? – the exhibition brings some absolute stunners together: road and racing cars, from all the great Italian design houses, from the 1930s to the present day. Maserati says it is the most important as well as the most valuable collection of Maseratis ever assembled.
For such an occasion the big guns were out in force – guest of honour Sir Stirling Moss, along with Lady Susie, a couple of sons of the founding Maserati brothers, big chief Luca di Montezemolo and group design guru Lorenzo Ramaciotti to mention a few. While the speeches went on a bit the cars, all simply but exquisitely displayed, spoke for themselves. They made a great appetitiser for the Festival of Speed next weekend when Maserati will be featured marque.
But why no museum of their own? The company did have a car collection – 17 superstar models, including Birdcage, 250F and Stirling’s ‘Eldorado’ that he raced at Monza and which is so familiar at Goodwood – but (to general shock and horror) it wasn’t included in the deal the wily Alessandro de Tomaso came up with to unload the then troubled firm to Fiat in 1993.
So horrified was Modenese cheese baron Umberto Panini (stay with us on this) that he bought the lot and has had the cars on display in his own museum on the outskirts of Modena ever since.
Some of the 30 cars in the centennial exhibition are from there, others from private collections around the world. Twenty one are on display at any one time beneath the vast arched roof of the Enzo Ferrari Museum in the centre of Modena, on the site where a young Enzo grew up and his father had his workshop. The old buildings and the bright and shiny glitziness of the new make a searing contrast.
The exhibition is on until January, open every day (except Christmas and 1 January) and costs €15 for adults, which is a steal for the quality of not just the cars but also the way they are displayed in a very welcoming open-plan space. Plus you can top up with some Ferraris too. In the old buildings there are some choice Ferraris including old number one as well as a recreation of Il Commendatore’s office (the original Ferrari museum in Maranello is of course still open as well).
The opening provided a chance to catch up with Stirling (his thoughts on Maserati, and ‘cars and crumpet’ as he inevitably put it to a baffled Italian press corps, coming soon) and also with museum curator and grandson of the Orsi family that ruled Maserati between 1937 and 167, Adolfo Orsi. So how difficult was it to choose what to include?
‘It was quite difficult because in 100 years there have been a lot of cars. I tried to choose the iconic ones like the 6CM, which is iconic of voiturettes, and the 8CM grand prix car, as driven by Nuvolari. Plus the Type 26, the first Maserati. Which would I most like to take home? All of them.’
Keep your fingers crossed for Adolfo’s next project: to assemble as many 250Fs as possible for a special 250F-only race at Revival in September to mark the beautiful grand prix car’s 60th anniversary – you heard it here first.
How many will he get? ‘There were around 30 made and I think it will be possible to put together a field of 15-20 cars for the Goodwood race – but first we have to convince the collectors to bring them. That’s my job – but also Charles’!’
Here are some pictures from the Maserati collection with, at the end, a few from the Ferrari part of the museum. It could never have happened in Enzo’s day!