Maserati stands out as one of the most appealing car brands in existence. It bears the influence of various stakeholders, including Citroën, Alejandro De Tomaso, and even Chrysler. Each Maserati leader strove to shape it into a top-tier manufacturer. Regrettably, all such attempts culminated in significant failure.
The Maserati Barchetta was conceived during a time of transition. In 1989, Maserati's shares were bought by Italy's largest employer – the Fiat Group, whose management harbored grand aspirations.
For a number of years, the Fiat board collaborated closely with Alejandro De Tomaso, a man renowned for his obstinate nature and strong character. Nevertheless, in 1993, Fiat assumed full control over Maserati's management.
The creation of the Maserati Barchetta occurred amidst a particularly complex period characterized by the clash of two disparate management philosophies within Maserati. While the Fiat Group aimed to establish a more affordable, yet competitive alternative to Ferrari, Alejandro De Tomaso was set on positioning Maserati as a direct competitor to Ferrari.
Created With a Goal
Maserati’s managers, who had no lack of ambition, hoped that they would produce at least 30–50 Barchettas. Wanting to make a real to-do, Maserati introduced the sports car on the 14th of December, 1991. This day was not selected by chance – it was in the winter of 1991 that Maserati celebrated its 77th birthday.
Many were surprised by the car that was presented at the celebration. The curious people who checked out the Barchetta asked how much the model would cost and when it would be ready for the roads. At the time, Maserati told everyone that mass production would begin soon and that a more civilized version of the Barchetta would come out in 1992. The company announced with great pride that the price of the Barchetta would be 148 million Italian lire or approximately 77,000 euros. Back then, an Italian who advocated a somewhat satiated lifestyle could buy a well-equipped W140 Mercedes-Benz S 500 with a great eight-cylinder engine for that amount.
It was the Barchetta’s extremely high price that scared off many potential customers. In fact, there were only 17 heroes who expressed a desire to pay the amount Maserati was asking.
1991 Maserati Barchetta | V6 Twin Turbo 315 hp | Zolder Trackday 2022
Connection With the BiTurbo
With dimensions of four metres in length, 1.97 metres in width, and a mere 93 centimetres in height, the Barchetta was powered by a mid-mounted six-cylinder petrol engine, ideally situated next to the rear axle.
Rather than investing heavily in the development of a new engine, the engineers opted to equip the Barchetta with a proven two-litre engine. Bolstered by turbochargers, it was capable of generating 315 horsepower and 373 Nm of torque.
Considering the Barchetta's light weight of just 775 kg, the robust six-cylinder engine practically endowed the vehicle with flight.
Exclusive Racing Championship
In order to generate greater interest in the new model, Maserati launched the Grantrofeo Barchetta racing championship that lasted for two years. The competition permitted only identical Maserati Barchetta vehicles to participate. While most of the races were hosted in Maserati's homeland of Italy, a few events also took place in Belgium and Denmark.
For this one-make race series, Maserati managed to engage several acclaimed figures from motorsports. In exchange for a certain fee, these stars devoted their time and skills to drive the new Maserati race cars. The 1993 championship boasted the participation of Le Mans victor Jan Lammers, Formula One stalwart Oscar Larrauri, and the eminent Italian track racing champion Carlo Facetti.
An Auction-Worthy Car
The model, which was designed at Maserati headquarters and produced at the De Tomaso factory, has recently found itself on the radar of collectors hunting for exclusive, rare, limited-edition cars. A 1992 Maserati Barchetta was on sale at the RM Sotheby’s auction that took place in London in autumn 2018. The car was expected to go for GBP 225,000–250,000 but did not receive any offers.
Several things contributed to the relatively high price. First, the car had been meticulously maintained. The last time it was serviced, the previous owner spent as much as EUR 36,000. Second, Maserati made less than 20 Barchettas in total. Third, there are only a few Barchettas in the world that have number plates, or in other words – that can be driven on public roads.