The Maserati Bora represented was Maserati's attempt to join the brigade of mid-engine sports cars. After the well-bred 3500, Maserati introduced a series of ultra-conventional GTs that, except for the Giugiaro-styled Ghibli in 1966, failed to ignite much passion. By 1970, the hottest exoticars were mid-engined, a movement Maserati finally joined in 1971.
This was another Giugiaro work, one Road & Track called “strikingly handsome, clean and slightly brutal-looking.” It employed an all-steel unibody and a longitudinal drivetrain mounted to a bolted on subframe. Separated from the two-seat cabin by double-pane rear glass and an upholstered cover was another tamed Maserati racing engine: a 310-hp quad-cam 4.7-liter V-8. It drove the rear wheels through a five-speed ZF transaxle as used in Ford’s GT40 endurance racers. In 1975, Maserati substituted its 4.9-liter 320-hp V-8 to compensate for power losses on emissions-regulated American models. This engine was standardized for Europe in 1976.
Suspension was independent coil all-round, steering was manual rack-and-pinion. Citroën had taken over Maserati in the mid-1960s and its presence showed in Bora’s all-wheel disc-brake system, which was actuated by the French company’s unique high-pressure hydraulics.
The Bora used a conventional brake pedal rather than Citroën’s mushroom-shaped button, but enjoyed the same “no-travel” action. All pedals were adjustable for reach -- a first for any production car -- and with the standard tilt/telescope steering wheel, air conditioning, and power windows, Bora was more accommodating than most Latin supercars.
The rear body section of the Maserati Bora lifted to reveal a racing-derived quad-cam V-8. This 1973 model has the 4.7-liter version; later models used a 4.9.
Around town it could feel heavy and the engine, spitting and hacking at low revs, didn’t seem to promise much, what with the modest 5500-rpm redline. But the Bora came alive in the hands of a smart, fast driver. Third gear was good for 118 mph and the communicative steering and well-sorted suspension made it, in R&T’s opinion, “one of the best-handling cars money can buy.”
From 1972 through ’83, Maserati sold a version of this car called the Merak with
a V-6 engine that allowed for +2 rear seats. After Citroën sold out to Alejandro deTomaso in the mid-1970s, deTomaso kept both cars alive, but no improved versions were developed, leaving the Bora as the pinnacle of Maserati’s roadgoing performance.
To learn more about Maserati and other sports cars, see:
- How Sports Cars Work
- Sports Cars of the 1970s
- Sports Cars of the 1980s
- New Sports Car Reviews
- Used Sports Car Reviews
- Muscle Cars
- How Ferrari Works
- How the Ford Mustang Works