The Trofeo was Maserati’s first race car in a very long time and the vehicle that helped the brand establish its one-make motorsport series.

After many years of struggle under De Tomaso ownership, Maserati was sold to Fiat in 1993, which made substantial investments in order to save the brand. Four years later, Fiat sold a 50-percent share in the company to Ferrari, which took full control of the brand in 1999. Under Ferrari, Maserati launched the Coupe in 2001, a model credited for bringing Maserati back into business. Less than two years after the Coupe hit dealerships Maserati created Trofeo Maserati, a one-make championship for racing versions of its production sports cars. Thus the Coupe-based Maserati Trofeo was born.

Introduced in 2002, just in time for the inaugural Trofeo Maserati season of 2003, the Trofeo received several modifications inside and out that made it suitable for track racing. However, the vehicle maintained the main characteristics of the road-going Coupe, including the body and even the stock engine.

The Trofeo was raced in the series until 2010, when Maserati released the GranTurismo MC, also based on a production car. The Coupe also spawned a Trofeo Light version, which was developed for use in the international racing series, including the Rolex Sports Car Series and FIA GT3 European Championship, but that’s another story for another time. Meanwhile, let’s have a look at the standard Trofeo race car.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2003 Maserati Trofeo.

  • 2002 Maserati Trofeo
  • Year:
    2002-
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Transmission:
    6-manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    413@7000
  • Torque @ RPM:
    4500
  • Displacement:
    4244 L
  • 0-60 time:
    4.6 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    177 mph
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2002 Maserati Trofeo
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2002 Maserati Trofeo
- image 9495
2002 Maserati Trofeo
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In order to make the Coupe suitable for racing, Maserati created an aerodynamic kit that included redesigned front and rear bumpers and a large fixed wing. The front bumper had larger air vents compared to the standard model, while the rear apron received a smaller gap between the exhaust outlets. Other enhancements included lighter alloy wheels, a lowered ride height, and quick-release pins for the engine hood and trunk lid.

Everything else remained unchanged, including the headlamps, taillights, side skirts, and even the side mirrors, but more important modifications were hidden underneath the racing livery. Specifically, the standard steel doors and engine hood were replaced by carbon-fiber parts, while the side window glass was ditched in favor of lighter plexiglass panels. Paired with interior modifications, these changes helped Maserati shave 550 pounds off the Coupe’s curb weight. Granted, the Trofeo was by no means radical compared to the road-going vehicle, but the seemingly mild modifications were quite effective on the race track.

Interior

The interior of the Coupe was also modified for racing, but much like the exterior, changes were far from radical. In order to save more weight, Maserati ditched most of the road car’s luxury features, including the sound deadening materials, the air conditioning system, and all the fancy leather and soft floor mats. The standard seats were are replaced by racing buckets, while the regular steering wheel was removed to make way for a race-spec unit wrapped in Alcantara. Speaking of Alcantara, both the dashboard and the center console were draped in the same material. Maserati also reconfigured the center stack and added new switches and knobs. The door panels were replaced with lighter pieces and a roll cage was added to protect the driver in the unfortunate event of a crash.

Drivetrain

2002 Maserati Trofeo
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Motivation for the Maserati Trofeo came from a mildly modified version of the Coupe’s naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V-8. The unit was the first version of the Ferrari F136 engine, which was later modified for models such as the Maserati GranTurismo and Quattroporte, and the Ferrari 458 Italia and California.

The Maserati Trofeo was quite fast thanks to its lightweight construction and more powerful engine.

While the standard Coupe engine cranked out 385 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, the Trofeo had 414 horses at its disposal. The extra 29 horsepower were added by means of revised engine mapping and a modified free-flowing exhaust with a baffle-free muffler. To encourage close racing, each engine was tested and certified to produce the same power before being sealed for the season.

The output was routed to the wheels through a six-speed Cambiocorsa sequential transmission with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. The gearbox received minor modifications compared to the standard model, which was also available with a manual transmission.

The Maserati Trofeo was quite fast thanks to its lightweight construction and more powerful engine. The sprint from 0 to 60 mph was achieved in only four seconds, which made it nearly a second quicker than the standard coupe. Top speed was estimated at around 180 mph.

Prices

2002 Maserati Trofeo
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The Maserati Trofeo was never sold to customers. Participants in the series purchased what Maserati described as a "service package" similar to a "pay and drive" agreement. For the 2003 season, the subscription was priced at €120,000 plus taxes and included a car, spare parts, one technical manager, several mechanics, fuel, a subscription to all seven races, racing outfits, insurance, and much more.

Competition

Since the Maserati Trofeo was developed for a one-make series only, it didn’t race against other cars in the form. The inaugural Trofeo Maserati season had 26 coupes on the starting grid and consisted of seven races in five countries. The calendar included Barcelona (Spain), Magny Cours (France), Nurburgring (Germany), Silverstone (Great Britain), Monza (Italy), and the final race at Mugello, Italy, during the Ferrari Maserati World Finals.

Conclusion

2002 Maserati Trofeo
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Much like the road-going Coupe is credited for bringing Maserati back into business, the Trofeo is responsible for the brand’s comeback to motor racing. Sure, some may argue that the Trofeo was just a one-make race car that didn’t get to prove its skills against proper competition, but it was this exact model that spawned the Trofeo Light, which went on to race in the FIA GT3 European Championship alongside the Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, Dodge Viper, Corvette Z06.R GT3, and Ferrari F430 GT3. The Trofeo also helped establish the Trofeo Maserati series, which continues to provide factory-backed racing events to Maserati customers. Without the Trofeo, Maserati would have taken a lot longer to get back on its feet after several decades on the brink of bankruptcy.

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    • * Restricted to just one series
    • * The cars were rented rather than sold to their drivers
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