Unlike many of the first mid-engine cars that were compromised with small interiors, tiny trunks, and delicate construction, the Bora is a refined car that offers comfort with no sacrifice in performance.
Maserati introduced the Bora in 1971, the successor to the front-engined Ghibli. A mid-engined car in the fashion of Ferrari's Boxer, the Bora used Maserati's familiar, reliable and powerful 4.7-liter, four-cam V8, mated to a ZF gearbox.
Ital Design's Giulio Alfieri, who had earlier designed the immortal 250F Maserati F1 car, designed the Bora. It had acceleration and handling of a high order and a slippery shape, resulting in a top speed of over 155 mph.
In 1973 the Bora was updated with a 4.9-liter engine making 310 horsepower, as used previously in the Ghibli SS, and performance was further increased as well.
The restored 1974 Maserati Bora featured here is finished in attractive fly yellow paintwork with black leather interior. The desirable optional air conditioning is fitted, along with all the attractive amenities one would expect from Maserati. The engine bay and chassis are both pleasing to the eye and testify to the car's overall care and maintenance. It is reported that the car handles and drives extremely well.
While produced in relatively small numbers and considered highly sought-after, this fast and stylish sports car will make a wonderful addition to any collection.
This 1974 Maserati Bora sold for $44,000, including buyer’s commission, at RM’s Monterey auction, August 15-16, 2003.
Led by such early examples as the Lamborghini Miura, the Ferrari 250LM, and even the diminutive Lotus Europa, the mid-engine exotic became the ultimate expression of the sports car. Bred for absolute performance, these cars featured knife-edge handling just a small step away from a race car. Engine placement required an unconventional body silhouette, which in turn allowed designers the freedom to be daring and innovative. The results are too severe for some enthusiasts’ tastes, but there is little doubt the class contains some of the most breathtaking of all automotive designs.
The Maserati Bora, in addition to its good looks, is also a rewarding car to drive and far more usable than the average exotic. Unlike many of the first mid-engine cars that were compromised with small interiors, tiny trunks, and delicate construction, the Bora is a refined car that offers comfortable amenities with no sacrifice in performance. It’s solid, with a somewhat heavy feeling more akin to a grand tourer than a sports car.
Fitted with the 4.9-liter engine from the Ghibli SS, the Bora is certainly fast, with oodles of torque and a superb sound. Even with its linkage, the ZF transaxle shifts effortlessly, and raised the bar for mid-engine cars of its time.
A double-pane rear window helps insulate the engine noise from the passenger compartment, making conversation pleasant at most speeds and adding appreciably to the comfort level. The only glitch to the entire Bora experience is its high-pressure brake system. Yes, among the “attractive amenities” one could expect from Maserati at the time were a whole complement of hydraulically operated features sourced from Citroën.
Maserati’s parent at the time of the Bora’s birth was the French carmaker that had spent vast amounts of time and money developing high-pressure hydraulic systems for its passenger cars and felt Maserati would be the perfect place to showcase the designs. As such, the Bora is fitted with Citroën’s braking system, which is awkward to learn and never instills complete confidence, as the brakes are sensitive to pressure rather than pedal travel.
Less frustrating are the Bora’s hydraulically controlled seats, chairs more comfortable than those in most living rooms, with a look that’s straight out of Architectural Digest. They resemble one-piece lounge chairs with high, full-width backs, and leg supports that extend nearly to the calf. Movement is actuated by hydraulic servos, but is limited to raising or lowering the driver’s seat or changing the rake. Rather than moving the seats forward or backward to achieve a comfortable position vis-à-vis the pedals, another hydraulic servo actually moves the pedals, shades of today’s Ford Taurus.
Hydraulics are also used to raise the headlamps, and while intimidating at first, the entire hydraulic system is straightforward and easily maintained by a competent mechanic.
There are several differences from early to late Boras. One seemingly insignificant, yet important feature is the change from a rear-hinged hood to a front-hinged one on the later cars. The change was made after multiple latch failures sent hoods crashing into windshields. A vent was added in the front hood of 1977 and later models to assist in engine cooling, although overheating is not a significant problem if the car’s cooling system is up to snuff. Other changes through the years were mostly cosmetic, with the notable exception of a very few late cars that were built without the hydraulic accessories.
The exquisitely detailed bumpers of the European Boras were replaced with moderately attractive stainless steel bumpers with rubber outriders on the 1973-1974 U.S. models. Ugly rubberized monoliths were fitted on 1975, 1977 and later models, enhancing the value of the earlier cars. (Strangely, there wasn’t a 1976 Bora.) Later cars lost the hubcaps in favor of logo-ed center caps and chrome lug nuts in an effort to modernize the look.
This RM auction was heavy with Maseratis, featuring no fewer than 18, including some rare models from an important Mexican collection. As such, it drew a knowledgeable and enthusiastic Maserati contingent, and the result for this driver-condition Bora was on the higher retail side of the market, an example of the extra value that the right venue can add.
Boras are undervalued (they peaked at over $125,000 in 1990) and Maseratis in general are on the move up. The re-introduction of the marque to the U.S. has raised speculation on older models, and cars you couldn’t give away three years ago are now generating interest. This car was certainly not overpriced today, and if current trends continue, this might seem like a bargain in three years.-Steve Ahlgrim
(Photo, historical and descriptive information courtesy of the auction company. Additional photos courtesy of www.thecarnut.com)