Eager to establish their technical prowess in design and engineering, Maserati unveiled the Bora to an anxious public in 1971. The mid-engine car was in response to the stunning Lamborghini Miura. At the time, the Ferrari Daytona, introduced in 1968, employed a conventional front engine V12 layout, so the decision to make the Ghibli’s replacement mid-engined demonstrated Maserati’s interest in beating Ferrari to the mid-engined flagship party. Powered by a development of Maserati’s fantastic quad cam alloy V8, directly descended from the 450S racecar, the Bora was an impressive performer. The exterior, penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign, was striking and angular, evoking an inviting combination of brutality and restraint. The engine compartment was uniquely covered in a glass clamshell canopy, accented by a low roofline covered in brushed stainless steel.
In addition to the striking exterior design and engine layout, the Bora was also technically innovative. The sophisticated V8 engine (available in either 4.7 or 4.9 liter displacements) was backed by a ZF 5-speed transaxle featuring independent suspension all around, a welcome improvement over the live rear axle Ghibli. During development, Maserati was under Citroen’s ownership and thus, their unique hydraulic braking system was included in the Bora. The hydraulic system also powered retractable headlamps, height adjustable driver’s seat, and adjustable pedals (which moved fore and aft in lieu of the seat moving). And while performance was the ultimate goal, usability and refinement were also built into the Bora, a departure from the typical Italian exotic of the period. The luggage compartment was usefully shaped and surprisingly large, and long-legged drivers appreciated the adjustable pedal cluster and steering column. The bulkhead between the engine and the passenger’s compartment was well insulated, including the fitment of double paned glass. Performance of the car was suitably exciting, with an engine output of 320hp, and a top speed of over 170mph. Production ran for seven years, resulting in fewer than 600 Boras, of which approximately half were 4.9 liter cars.
This particular 4.9 liter car is a low mileage example that has covered just 20,000 miles from new. Always cared for and thoughtfully maintained in excellent running condition, this Bora was stored for approximately ten years beginning in 1985, when it was traded to a shop for restoration work performed on a 300SL Gullwing. The next owner purchased the car in 1995 subsequently tending to the mechanical and cosmetic needs that arose from sitting. After that, the car was enthusiastically owned and exhibited regularly at Concorso Italiano, winning First in Class in 1998, Second in Show in 1996, and People’s Choice in both 2006 and 2008.
In 2003, approximately 6,000 miles ago, the engine and hydraulic system were completely rebuilt including a new hydraulic pump, accumulator spheres, and rebuilt headlight lift cylinders. The bearings were replaced, new JE pistons fitted, along with new valves and guides. The water pump was replaced, the alternator rebuilt and upgraded to 100 amps from 60 amps. The carburetors were rebuilt, a new Kevlar clutch fitted, a new ignition module installed, and a new fuel pump and fuel pressure regulator were also installed. The motor was balanced prior to being assembled and European headers were installed to improve performance. Other items included replacing the radiator, installing new brake lines, restoring the fuel tank, and rebuilding the air conditioning system. The wheels were also restored, the tires replaced, and all hoses and rubber seals replaced. The car has been consistently maintained since and remains a superb driving example. The next owner, a collector on the East Coast, added a further 1,000 miles to the odometer and spent over $18,000 on the car, including replacing the clutch and associated hydraulics, new XWX tires, new rubber suspension bushings, rebuilt pedal and seat hydraulic valve, new belts, new carburetor gaskets, MSD ignition,
routine fluid changes, new starter, and miscellaneous other repairs.
Today this Bora displays largely original factory paint, which presents well but shows some aging. Close inspection reveals some checking and crazing along with a few areas of peeling or chipping, some of which have been touched up. Some areas of the body have been resprayed, closely matching the original paint. The rest of the paint is original and overall the body is wonderfully solid and honest in its presentation. The body is excellent, being free of corrosion and displaying great fit and panel gaps with very nice closures and tight fit. The trim and brightwork have been rechromed and various stainless trim polished as necessary, resulting in very nice finishes. The lights and glass are excellent and the wheels appear virtually new. The car presents as a very correct example, with original glass and twin stalk Carello wipers.
The interior is very nice and appears to be unrestored. The leather shows some mellowing and minor wear on the seating bolsters but is taut and supple given its age. The instruments, switches, and controls are all in excellent original condition, as are the carpets and headliner. The dashboard is in good physical condition but shows some minor discoloration which is common in these cars. A vintage Blaupunkt radio is included with the car but not installed currently. The overall experience of the interior is wonderfully mellowed and fascinating thanks to the car’s myriad of interesting period details, all of which have been lovingly preserved and thoughtfully maintained.
The engine compartment is clean and nicely detailed. It is generally correct in appearance other than selective chrome plating applied to the air cleaner housing and dipstick shroud. The front storage compartment remains original and in fine condition.
The car runs and drives very well. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the driving experience is how easy to drive and civilized the car is compared to other Italian exotics of the period. Far less intimidating to drive than a Miura, a Countach, or a Daytona, the Bora has comparatively low control efforts, slick shifting gearbox with great synchromesh on all gears from cold, and a pleasant, usable character that gives the driver a sense of familiarity and comfort with the car that is missing from many classic cars. The famously unusual Citroen brakes take a light touch, but the car is otherwise straightforward to use. The clutch is progressive and of a manageable weight, and aside from being a dogleg pattern, the gearbox is as easy to use and robust feeling as a modern unit. The throttle is linear, the engine responsive, acceleration and noises from the engine are both very memorable. The steering is precise and nicely weighted, and the suspension is compliant while still providing good ride quality.
An original set of tools and a factory jack are included with the car, while the accompanying parts books, owner’s manual, and wiring schematic book are reproductions. The car also comes uninstalled vintage Blaupunks cassette player and a copy of the May 2012 issue of Automobile Magazine in which this particular car was featured in a two-page article on this Bora. This Bora is also accompanied by Historic Certificates from Maserati confirming its heritage and originality.
The Maserati Bora has recently become recognized by collectors as one of the more desirable performance cars of the period. Embodying all the important characteristics for a highly collectible car, the Bora offers technical innovation and high performance, coupled with an exceptionally rare and visually striking body design. This particular car is a superb example, displaying outstanding integrity and very low miles. The sympathetic care and attention to originality present a very handsome car ready for use as is or continued enjoyment displayed at any number of exotic sports car gatherings.
The car can be fitted with original European bumpers for a small additional fee.
First registration 1/1974
s/n AM117/49US698, engine no. AM107/11/49 *698*
0-100 km/h in around 6 seconds
Top speed 273 km/h
Price 169,000 Euro (negotiable)