• Maserati Bora - A Great Car With Horrible Timing

Maserati’s first mid-engine car turns 50

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Maserati is one of the oldest and most coveted Italian car brands ever. Although they’ve had their ups and downs, the motorsport success of Maserati cars has helped spawn some great road cars, too. Among them was the Bora, which actually has its 50th anniversary this year. The Maserati Bora may not be as celebrated as other models of the brand, but it’s one of the most significant Maserati cars to have been produced. For its 50th birthday, we are giving you some interesting facts about the Bora.

The first mid-engine Maserati

Maserati Bora - A Great Car With Horrible Timing
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Nowadays, we are spoiled by the diversity of mid-engine supercars, but back in the 1970s, there weren’t as many. Yes, there were a few others, like the Lamborghini Miura, DeTomaso Pantera, or Ferrari 308, but mid-engine cars were still not as mainstream as today. In 1971, Maserati decided they want to join the mid-engine club and brought out the Bora (Tipo 117), in order to compete with the likes of the aforementioned.

It was the most high-tech Maserati ever made

Maserati Bora - A Great Car With Horrible Timing
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Maserati has always been known to make quick and stylish vehicles. Sadly, they were also known to be outdated in terms of technology. The Bora changed the brand’s perception of one using ancient technology. It brought independent suspension all-around, along with coil springs, telescopic suspension dampers, and anti-roll bars. Keep in mind, the Bora brought these innovations (for Maserati) in 1971. For comparison, the Miura had front and rear independent suspension, since its inception in 1964.

The Bora was Maserati’s first car made under Citroen’s ownership

Maserati Bora - A Great Car With Horrible Timing
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In 1968, the French carmaker Citroen acquired Maserati. This was until 1975 when, after Citroen went bankrupt, a deal was signed at the Ministry of Industry in Rome. This meant that Maserati was now owned by an Italian state-owned holding – GEPI – and Alejandro De Tomaso. Under Citroen’s ownership, Maserati had relative freedom and was even asked to develop a V-6 engine for their flagship, the Citroen SM. The engine in question was also used in the Maserati Merak SS, which was heavily based on the Bora. In addition, Maserati cars built in that period used many Citroen parts, but they were mostly limited to the hydraulic systems.

It could seat four people (theoretically)

Maserati Bora - A Great Car With Horrible Timing
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The Maserati Bora was designed as a 2+2 coupe. This meant that, despite having the engine in the middle, it also had rear seats. With that being said, the second row was only good for small kids, ex-wives, or lousy friends. Nevertheless, the Bora offered a bit more practicality than your average mid-engine sports car.

It may have been heavier than what Maserati claimed

Maserati Bora - A Great Car With Horrible Timing
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Originally, the Maserati Bora was meant to have a dry weight of 3,100 pounds (1,400 kg). However, due to safety requirements and noise insolation, it ended up with 3,384 pounds (1,535 kg).

That said, there is a popular belief that the Bora is heavier than the 3,640-pound (1,650 kg) Ghibli. However, Maserati says this might be due to the car’s different gear ratios. However, it is worth noting, the Bora features a steel monocoque chassis and steel body, together with a steel sub-frame for the engine and transmission. More recent sources claim an actual dry weight of 4,034 pounds (1,830 kg).

The Bora had impressive performance figures for the time

Maserati Bora - A Great Car With Horrible Timing
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This was mainly due to the Bora being powered by big V-8 engines. Earlier models featured a 4.7-liter V-8 producing 310 horsepower (321 kilowatts) at 6,000 RPM and 325 pound-feet (440 Nm) at 4,000 RPM. In 1973, a bigger 4.9-liter V-8 became the standard engine. With it, the Maserati Bora now had 320 horsepower (239 kilowatts) at 5,500 RPM and 335 pound-feet (454 Nm) at 4,000 RPM.

The 4.9-liter unit was essentially a bored-out version of the 4.7-liter V-8, with the bore being 89 mm instead of 85 mm. Regardless of the version, both engines featured a DOHC valvetrain and four downdraft Weber carburetors. The V-8 was mated to a five-speed ZF transaxle.

There are different claims regarding the top speed, but it is believed that the 4.7-liter could reach 169 mph (271 km/h), while the 4.9-liter – 177 mph (285 km/h). The 0 – 60 mph (97 km/h) time was around 6.0 seconds.

Giorgetto Giugiaro designed the Bora

Maserati Bora - A Great Car With Horrible Timing
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The Maserati Bora owes its stunning good looks to the Italdesign studio, with the main contributor being Giorgetto Giugiaro himself. The legendary Italian is considered to be the most influential car designer of the 20th century. We can thank him for styling some of the most iconic cars ever made, such as the Ferrari 250 GTO, De Tomaso Mangusta, Lancia Delta, DeLorean DMC 12, and others. The car stood at just 1,138 mm (44.8 inches) and had a drag coefficient of just 0.30 Cd.

The luxury sports car

The Bora was not only fast, but also quite luxurious on the inside. Most mid-engine cars were simply go-fast toys. The Bora was a go-fast toy that spoiled you. Most of the interior was covered in high-quality leather. This included the seats, doors, and dashboard. Power windows were standard and almost every Bora had an air conditioner. In addition, the steering column was adjustable. The Maserati Bora was a mid-engine sports car, rivaling the luxury of some limousines.

The Merak happened because of the Bora

Excited about the new Maserati MC20? Here's All mid-engined Maseratis from the past
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In 1972 – one year after the Bora’s unveiling – Maserati introduced a second, more affordable, mid-engine model. The Merak shared many of the Bora’s aesthetics, as it was, once again, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. The cars were almost identical up until the B-pillar. In the front, the two symmetrical trapezoid grilles were exchanged for dual chrome bumpers. Other than that, the cars shared the same front end.

After the B-pillar, the Merak did not feature the Bora’s glass fastback-style engine cover. Instead, the cabin ended with a vertical window, followed by a flat engine cover, featuring four vents.

Interestingly enough, the Merak also had rear seats.

Excited about the new Maserati MC20? Here's All mid-engined Maseratis from the past
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The two cars may have shared most of the sheet metal and platform, but they were worlds apart in terms of performance. The Merak dropped the Bora’s V-8 for either a 2.0 or a 3.0-liter V-6. The latter was shared with the Citroen SM. The Merak turned out to be more successful than the Bora, on which it was based. While the Bora’s production ended in 1978, the Merak carried on until 1983.

Maserati Bora & Merak Specs
Maserati Bora Maserati Merak
Engine: 4.9-liter V-8 3.0-liter V-6
Horsepower: 320 horsepower 217 horsepower
Torque: 335 pound-feet 188 pound-feet
0-60: 4.9 seconds 6.3
Top speed: 177 mph 149

The Maserati Bora is rare and collectible

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7
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No one really expected Maserati’s first production mid-engine car to be produced in great quantities. Over its seven-year production run (1971-1978), only 564 units were made. Of those, 289 had the 4.7-liter V-8, while the other 275 had the 4.9-liter V-8. If you want one now, you need to prepare at least $150,000.

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7
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Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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