Maserati’s classy move to the wadge shape in the Citroen days

The Maserati Bora, a classic Giugiaro design, is the first mid-engine sports car to come from Maserati and the bigger brother of the more well-known Merak, which massively outsold and outlived the Bora. Less than 600 were made, all with V-8 engines.

The birth of the Lamborghini Miura took the world by storm. It produced shock waves that rocked all the big names in the world of sports car manufacturing. Basically, after the Miura, everyone had to have a mid-engine supercar in its lineup. Alejandro De Tomaso came up with the Mangusta which followed the latest trends in design which dictated that the body should have a lot of straight surfaces and razor-sharp edges which would, in turn, reduce drag and make the whole thing look incredible. You can thank Marcello Gandini for this trend, the Italian designer behind the Miura who quickly moved on to a more futuristic design language with the Alfa-Romeo Carabo which was exhibited at the Paris Motor Show 50 years ago.

Maserati, who were still employing their elegant Ghibli, a quintessential grand tourer through and through, decided they should have a mid-engine car too. Ghibli’s designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, of Italdesign, was phoned up and, by mid-1969, the Bora prototype was in its testing phase. The finished product was gorgeous to look at, and an advertised top speed of over 170 mph was astonishing at the time. It was also a car that you could drive for extended periods of time thanks to the comfortable cabin and many amenities that weren’t too common in supercars.

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7 Exterior

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7
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The Bora, named after some winds in the Eastern-Adriatic sea that are guaranteed to blow your hat off, debuted at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show to an enthusiastic crowd. Its clean design is far less dramatic than that of the Countach LP400, but that’s precisely what Maserati was aiming for. They wanted a stylish cruiser that would enjoy eating up the miles at speed, without it being bothersome to the driver or the passenger.

Although Pietro Frua also had a stab at designing the Bora, presenting a full-size model to Maserati’s board, it was Giugiaro who designed the car.

His creation stands out as one of the prettiest Maseratis ever made which didn’t get a follow-up until Ferrari decided they should go GT racing in the early ‘00s with the Enzo and, instead, dispatched Maserati to do it with the MC12.

The front fascia of the Bora is dominated by its twin, trapezoidal, chromed grilles with the legendary Maserati trident in the middle. The European models did not feature any front bumper, but the Boras sold in America had to let go of their grilles for in their place a protruding bumper was mounted with added rubber chunks. The bumper became larger by 1975 and was all black, essentially ruining the Bora’s front end.

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7
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The car features pop-up headlights, that got rounder over the year, which made use of Citroen’s high-pressure hydraulic system. That’s because Maserati was under Citroen ownership at the time and the French hydraulics found their way into the Italian supercars. In fact, the French hydraulics also operated the brakes, which was criticized as this was something that would fail on many Citroens, the moveable pedal box, and the driver’s seat for up-and-down adjustments.

There’s only one, rather wide, air inlet on the front hood.

Upon opening the hood you’ll notice that it hides a surprisingly large trunk area – at least for a supercar.

The car’s side is marked by the black styling line as well as the generous side windows. You’ll also notice that the roof and the A-pillars were left in their bare stainless steel form, a nice interpretation of the idea of “two-tone paintjob”. The fuel cap is located on the upper right-hand side, in between the rear hood and the door.

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7
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Unlike the Merak, the Kamm-style back of the Bora isn’t hollow. Instead, the rear section is glassed, narrow rear side windows following the length of the rear glass engine cover. Four black slats incorporated into the sides are positioned towards the back end. The multi-spoke Campagnolo wheels with their oversized polished hubcaps complete the sophisticated appearance. The hubcaps were gone, though, by the time the Bora reached the end of its production cycle in 1978.

The straight-cut rear of the Bora features quad-exhaust tips that are located just below the chromed rear bumper.

The rectangular taillights sit in a slight cavity with the number plate in the middle. The bumper on the Bora also grew and turned plastic black as the car as the car was shipped across the Atlantic. The huge rear deck has two air vents towards the tail end – these were later replaced by a black grille later during the production cycle. The enclosed design was conceived for better noise insulations. Actually, the deck itself was carpeted on the inside for better insulation.

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7
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1975 Maserati Bora 4.7 exterior dimensions:

Wheelbase: 102.4 in
Length: 170.7 in
Width: 69.6 in
Height: 44.6 in

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7 Interior

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7
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The interior premises of the Bora are lavish for a car that could do over 170 mph. You don’t get that impossible driving position (and zero visibility) that the Countach proposes, you don’t get the noise interrupts your thoughts inside a De Tomaso, you get a tranquil and comfortable ride.

This Maserati had both A/C and electric windows in its standard specification.

It also had a double-pane rear window that separated the occupants from the revving V-8 behind their heads.

Most of the interior was covered in leather and you could actually adjust your driving position. The steering wheel was adjustable fore and aft, as well as for rake. The seats were also adjustable and the pedal box could be moved backward and forwards to attend to the needs of even the tallest of drivers – as long as they could fit in the 44.6-inch-tall car at all. This last creature comfort was actually a first on a production car of any kind. Think about that: Maserati premereing an element of comfort over 45 years ago.

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7
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The dashboard itself is curved towards the driver, who is facing the three-spoke steering wheel and the two, main, supersized dials behind it. You’ve got the tachometer on the left, which redlines before 6,000 rpm – although even the 4.7-liter V-8 can happily rev to 6,200 rpm, - and the odometer on the right. The stereo is actually located on the left side of the dash, not on the center console which is covered by a multitude of smaller dials and a big air vent. The passenger has to contend with most of the air going towards the driver. You could also option your Bora with wood trim on the dashboard, like the one in the pictures.

The handbrake is located within the driver compartment, popping just next to the short shifter which controls the 5-speed ZF transaxle.

There’s also an ashtray in between the seats in proper ‘70s tradition. You’ll also find three red warning lights in between the two big dials, one of which should inform you if the hydraulic system that helps you brake has failed. This isn’t a cause, however, for immediate panic as the system stores energy for a few dozen more pumps of the brake pedal.

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7 Drivetrain

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7
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The Bora was equipped with a 4.7-liter V-8 which traces its roots back to the mid-‘50s 450S sports car.

The engine was later bored out to 4.9-liter when the car was shipped to the U.S. This latter engine option eventually replaced the 4.7-liter unit altogether, even on the European market.

The 4.7-liter V-8, which is what sits under the hood of the black European-specification Bora we have here, produces 310-horsepower at about 6,000 rpm while all the torque available, some 325 pound-feet to be precise, is at your fingertips at 4,200 rpm. The aluminum block 16-valves engine with four chain-driven camshafts was fed by four downdraught Weber carburetors with Bosch fuel injection. The engine was mated to the ZF-1 5-speed gearbox which was located behind the engine and final drive.

To aid handling, the engine and gearbox were positioned inside a steel sub-frame that was welded to the main monocoque. The ZF gearbox was greatly refined by Maserati who manufactured a new gear linkage which made shifts smoother and more precise than on any other car which employed this transaxle. The rack-and-pinion steering was precise and went through a lot of development during the testing phases. All that, though, didn’t cure the car’s tendency to weave at speed and on some bumpy road surfaces. This forced Maserati to fit bigger tires on the Bora.

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7
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The 4.9-liter engine was good for 334-horsepower and 335 pound-feet of torque on the European models.

The American cars, due to much stricter emission-related regulations, saw their power cut by 24-horsepower. That’s also why no American Bora was able to exceed 155 mph while the fastest of the European models hit 174 mph. The car weighed 3,380 pounds with the weight balance strongly biased towards the rear. It means that saving a slide in a Bora isn’t a feat anyone can pull but, at the end of the day, the Bora is a relaxed gas guzzler, not an avid racer. Of the 564 Boras built, 289 had the 4.7-liter engine while the other 275 models came with the 4.9-liter engine.

The suspension is independent on all four corners with coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, and anti-roll bars. The Bora was the first Maserati to be offered with fully independent suspension on all four wheels and the engineers even trialed out the MacPherson strut design, but the wheel jiggled and vibrated too greatly on bumpy roads and the idea was dumped.

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7 Technical specifications:

Engine: 90° V8
Position: Mid, Longitudinal
Aspiration: Natural
Ignition: Bosch Coil
Valvetrain: DOHC, 2 Valves per Cyl
Fuel feed: 4 Weber 42 DCNF Carburetors
Bore: 93.9 mm / 3.7 in
Stroke: 89 mm / 3.5 in
Compression ratio: 8.05:1
Power: 310-horsepower at 6,000 rpm (4.7-liter version)
Torque: 325 pound-feet at 4000 rpm
Body: Unit Steel
Front tires: 205/70 VR 15 Michelin
Rear tires: 215/70 VR 15 Michelin
Brakes: Ventilated discs, vacuum assisted
Front wheels: F 38.1 x 19.0 cm / 15.0 x 7.5 in
Rear wheels: R 38.1 x 19.0 cm / 15.0 x 7.5 in
Steering: Rack & Pinion
Suspension: Coil Springs, Telescopic Shock Absorbers, Stabiliser Bar
Transmission: ZF 5-speed manual transaxle

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7 Pricing

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7
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The price of a Maserati Bora depends on its condition, engine and whether its an American model or a European one. With that being said, you can’t find a good example nowadays for under $120,000.

On the other hand, if you want a Concours-quality restoration you have to dig way deeper. A 4.9-liter version can go for as much as $230,000. Whether it’s worth all that money or whether you should just stick to a cheaper Merak, which shares the front clip with the Bora, and buy another car with the money saved is up to you.

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7 Competition

De Tomaso Mangusta

1967 - 1971 De Tomaso Mangusta High Resolution Exterior
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The Ford-powered Mangusta remains one of the most striking designs of the late ‘60s. Penned by the same Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Mangusta is a rear beast, although not as expensive as a Miura. Only 401 Mangustas were built, 150 of which were for the European market while the rest were sold Stateside.

The 4.7-liter Ford small block of the early Mangustas produced 306-horsepower. The cars sold in America, however, came with the 5.0-liter Ford engine which was less potent, being rated at just 221-horsepower. It was, then, significantly less powerful than the U.S. Bora and far less practical. The styling, though, was more aggressive, its distinctive feature being the gullwing-style hood which was made out of two parts that opened upwards.

Read our full review on the 1967 - 1971 De Tomaso Mangusta.

Lamborghini Miura

1966 - 1969 Lamborghini Miura High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Miura is regarded as the first modern supercar. It also is the first production car with a transverse mid-engine layout. As one of the most famous of Gandini’s designs, the Miura has stood the test of time and, today is arguably the most sought-after Lamborghini. Only 764 units were built between 1966 and 1973 and, arguably, only the later S and SV models are worth having if you actually are interested in driving the Miura. The original P400 had poor handling, was hard to operate due to the heavy clutch, clunky gearbox and heavy steering, which made it almost dangerous in some instances.

The revised Miuras that followed were more tamed, although the interior was always a monument of impracticality – a stark contrast to that of the Bora. Still, with the SV you got 380-horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque at 5,750 rpm. Miura prices have seen a rapid increase over the past few years. For example, as late as 2011 you could fetch an earlier example for under $500,000. Nowadays, though, an SV can sell for as much as $2,200,000…

Read our full review on the 1966-1969 Lamborghini Miura

Final Thoughts

1975 Maserati Bora 4.7
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The Maserati Bora is one of the finest road cars ever built by the Italian manufacturers. The styling boasts a well-balanced combination of sportiness and finesse, the practicality is almost unheard of with supercars at the time and the performance figures are respectable, even today.

Obviously, it isn’t bullet-proof in terms of reliability, the body tends to rust in some areas more than you may expect, and if you buy a lesser example you should expect it to have lost quite a few horsepower. On the upside, it is far less expensive than some of its peers.

  • Leave it
    • Citroen hydraulics could fail, leaving you without brakes
    • Body rust can be an issue
    • Isn’t the best handling supercar of the ‘70s

Source: rm sothebys

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