Daniele Turetta, courtesy of Bonhams
Daniele Turetta, courtesy of Bonhams
The highlight of the 1971 Geneva Salon was undoubtedly the sensational new Maserati Bora. With the Bora’s introduction, the great Modenese manufacturer followed other supercar constructors in going mid-engined, while at the same time abandoning its traditional tubular chassis technology in favor of unitary construction. Named after an Adriatic wind, the Bora was the work of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s Ital Design, at least as far as its bodyshell was concerned. The mid-mounted engine was Maserati’s familiar 4-cam V8 in 4.7-liter form, the 5-speed transaxle came from ZF and the all-independent double-wishbone suspension was penned by Giulio Alfieri, co-designer of the legendary 250F Formula 1 car. One of the first new-generation models to appear following Maserati’s acquisition by Citroën, the Bora used the latter’s hydraulic technology to adjust seats and pedals, raise the headlamps and operate the excellent power-assisted brakes. A slippery shape plus 310 horsepower made for a very fast car — top speed was around 258 km/h (160 mph) — and the Bora had acceleration and handling to match. From around 1973, a 4.9-liter version became available, boasting an extra 20 horsepower and commensurately improved performance. By January 1976, Maserati’s management apparently had discussed shelving the Bora but decided to continue. Only some 25 Boras were made that year, and the total produced from 1971 to 1978 was only 571 cars. The type was finally phased out in 1979. The Bora was a stunning supercar by any standards, both then and now. According to Maserati Classiche, this 4.9-liter example was built in June 1973 and finished in Argento Auteuil with red leather interior. In the same month, it was sold through the Maserati importer in the United States. At some time the car returned to its native Italy. In January 2013, it underwent a thorough service at official Maserati specialists Candini of Modena. Work undertaken included overhauling the pop-up headlight mechanism, water pump, steering box and air conditioning system, including filling it with modern R134 gas, together with cleaning the carburetors and more mundane service items. Components renewed include the front brake discs, front shock absorbers and front wheel bearings. The car has also clearly benefited from a recent high-quality respray, while the original leather interior is still in very good condition throughout. Offered with Italian registration documents for export, the car is now fitted with a km/h speedometer and correct European specification exhaust system and bumpers.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1973 Maserati Bora 4.9 Coupe
Number Produced:571
Original List Price:$26,900
Tune Up Cost:$1,750
Chassis Number Location:Engine compartment on firewall
Engine Number Location:Stamped on side of block
Club Info:Maserati Club International
Investment Grade:B

This car sold for €92,000 ($124,218*) , including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ “The Zoute Sale” in Knokke-Heist, Belgium, on October 11, 2013.

Both Maserati and Ferrari went hesitantly into the world of mid-engine cars — lagging far behind the 1966 launch of the Lamborghini Miura. Eventually, Maserati not only led Ferrari into the fray by two years, but did it with both feet in the pool.

Maserati’s car wouldn’t be like Ferrari’s Dino — a sub-brand with a small engine. No sir, the company’s star GT, the successor of the acclaimed Ghibli, would be a mid-engine standard bearer. And while no one would say it equaled the pure beauty of the Ghibli, the Bora was a stunning statement of brawn and power in a thoroughly modern shape.

In fact, the Bora was somewhat of a departure for Maserati in visual character.

Before the Bora, Maserati’s design aesthetic trended towards the elegant, almost delicate, in feel. The Bora was quite something else. and a return to the earlier feeling would be seen in its successor, the Khamsin. To my eye, the muscularity of the Bora is in perfect keeping with its dynamic character.

I think the Khamsin is a terrific car, but it somehow feels heavier than its looks promise.

Citroën phobia

Foremost in the minds of many when the Bora and its little sister, the Merak, are mentioned, is Citroën. The fear and loathing that accompany the idea that an Italian luxury GT would contain Gallic mad wizardry in its components is enough to send them screaming from the garage.

I’ll repeat this yet again: There’s no call for such concern. The most important component from across the Alps is the hydraulic servo braking system. Until you’ve used it, don’t knock it, and once you have, any other system will likely seem positively Fred Flintstone in comparison.

As for maintenance, if you’re not doing regular and proper upkeep of a 160-mph GT, then you shouldn’t own one. Once properly set up, the hydraulics offer no challenge.

A fast, comfortable tourer

The Bora is a brilliant, fast and comfortable touring car, excellent for long trips and docile in around-town puttering. The ride is excellent, and the long one-piece seats are unusual in having no back-rest adjustment. They can be raised or lowered and provide superb comfort. Once you’ve experienced their thigh support, you’ll wonder why they’ve never been repeated.

The Bora is no track-day car. It’s fast, but it’s also a bit heavy, thanks to a robust build quality and what may be the best cabin sound and heat insulation in a mid-engine car until the Acura NSX came along. The car’s weight works to give the driver a certain amount of confidence on the road, as the Bora never feels floaty at speed, but it doesn’t get in the way of responsive handling. A small cavil might be the slightly notchy and longish throw in the ZF gearbox.

Owners also enjoy the access to the engine the Bora offers, more generous than many mid-engine layouts, and the trunk space is more than adequate for the long-distance travel the car encourages.

As is often the case with Maseratis, the subtle sophistication of the styling is lost on a large part of the market. This is especially true for the Bora, as many seeking mid-engine GT cars want them to be a bit more flashy and dramatic than Giugiaro’s quiet-but-strong form. However, as in other segments of the market, a slow awakening to the dynamic qualities of the Bora has been pushing prices upwards.

On the rise

Current asking prices for Boras in the U.K. and Europe run a rather large range from $81,000 to $176,000. At the time of writing, I could not locate any for sale in the United States. Interestingly, several of the cars offered abroad had originally been delivered Stateside. This example is one such car.

From the catalog images, this Bora appeared to be quite tidy, with good shut lines and smooth panel fit. The interior was very clean, with what appeared to be original seats nicely broken in, and moderately worn carpets. The silver and red color scheme is classic and suits the Bora quite well.

That it sold for nearly 50% more than the upper range in the SCM Price Guide seems out of line for a refurbished car. However, considering it in the mid-range of the current asking prices for Boras puts it into a different context altogether. A question that remains is whether prices such as these are achievable in the United States.

Time will tell, but without a doubt the Bora is another of the perennially undervalued Maseratis that are being discovered. This car may have been well sold for October 2013, but it will likely be a bargain by March 2014.

*The note on the price in U.S. dollars is for the variance in the posted results. Bonhams used $1.36/€1.00; our posted SCM number is at $1.35/€1.00. The posted rate for October 11, 2013, was $1.355/€1.00, so choose your conversion as you will. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

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