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Maserati Barchetta: A unique proposition to old-school sportscar

Red Maserati Barchetta

Maserati, by far, is one of the most troublesome manufacturers in the automotive industry. Citroën, Alejandro De Tomaso, and even Chrysler. Every Maserati owner has tried to create a world-class manufacturer, but all have failed miserably.

The Maserati created this car during a period of transition of power. In 1989, the Fiat Group, Italy’s largest employer, acquired a stake in the Maserati brand, and its managers had ambitious goals.

Unique Maserati Barchetta

For several years, the Fiat Group’s management worked closely with the stubborn and hard-nosed Alejandro De Tomaso, who, due to various disagreements, transferred complete control of Maserati to Fiat Group in 1993.

The Maserati developed Barchetta during a period in the company’s history when two opposing management visions clashed. The Fiat Group wanted to create a cheaper, but not inferior, alternative to Ferrari, while Alejandro De Tomaso stood up for a fully-fledged Ferrari competitor.

Maserati Barchetta Stradalle

Designed with a purpose

The ambitious Maserati managers of the time naively hoped that they would be able to launch at least 30 or 50 Barchettas when they started to build the future sports car.

To create a real buzz, Maserati launched the sports car on 14 December 1991. This day was chosen not by chance because, in the winter of 1991, Maserati celebrated its 77th anniversary.

Front end of Maserati Barchetta

Maserati had all the right trump cards in its hands: a company birthday, an exclusive car, and the motivation to improve the manufacturer’s reputation.

The car unveiled at the birthday celebrations surprised many. Curious onlookers asked about the price of the future Barchetta and when it would be available on public roads. Maserati representatives then told everyone that series production would start soon and that a more civilized version of the Barchetta would appear in 1992.

Maserati Barchetta Corsa

Shortly after, a company’s spokesman proudly announced the price of the Barchetta: 148 million Italian lira, or around 77 000 euros. For the same amount, an Italian who was then quite fond of the high life could have bought a well-equipped S500 of the W140 generation with a magnificent 8-cylinder engine.

No wonder only 17 heroes were willing to pay Maserati’s asking price.

Maserati Barchetta side view

Relations with BiTurbo

At 4,050 millimeters long, 1,965 millimeters wide, and just 930 millimeters high, the Maserati Barchetta had a six-cylinder petrol engine, which the designers placed in the most appropriate position – in the middle of the car, near the rear axle.

Not wanting to invest a considerable amount in an entirely new engine, the engineers fitted the Barchetta with a time-tested 2-liter power unit that, with the help of turbochargers, developed 315 horsepower and 373 Nm of torque.

The Barchetta weighed just 905 kilograms.

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