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 witha 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