The Good Oil: When Maserati had a ute (and fire engine)
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It’s been a long time since Maserati produced a properly track focused mid-engined car; the Ferrari Enzo-based MC12 finished its extremely limited production run of 50 road/12 race models back in 2005.
But now the Italian marque is back in business with the awesome MC20. With that box ticked, we can only hope Maserati gets back into some other core genres. Like utes or fire engines.
The brand boasted both in one machine back in 1973, thanks to a special Quattroporte that served as an emergency response vehicle on Italian racetracks from 1973-80.
Full disclosure: this wasn’t an official Maserati project. No kidding, right? But five of them were created in the marque’s home town of Bologna, commissioned by fire extinguisher specialist Costruzione Estintori Antincendio (CEA).
The Quattroporte ute/fire-appliance concept wasn’t just for comedy. A fast-response vehicle was required for high-level motorsport events and the cars were purchased as used vehicles, up to six years old, making them relatively affordable.
The bodywork behind the B-pillar was cut off, replaced by metal sheets to add strength and provide mounting points for fire-fighting equipment. Storage boxes were added at the side, adding a bit of shooting brake flavour. Oh okay, they were probably for medical supplies.
The modified Quattroportes were heavier than the sedans, but still boasted 191kW from a V8 engine, matched to a five-speed manual and disc brakes. CEA claimed the cars could still hit 225km/h even with a full load of water on board.
The Quattroporte fire engines are the stuff of legend now. Until recently, only one was known to survive: it underwent a 1200-hour restoration over six years and was auctioned by Coys of Kensington in 2019. One of the quintet was reportedly destroyed in an accident in 1978, although rumours persist that a collector owned all five at one stage in the 1980s.
Another did pop up as a barn find in Belgium on Ebay in February this year. So two down, three to go. If you’ve seen a Maserati ute or fire engine running around, please contact The Good Oil.