Sunday, July 5, 2009
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Italian Motor Expo 2008 - Sunday 1st June 12.00pm to 4.00pm Southbank Parklands The Italian Motor Vehicle Clubs showcase Classic and contemporary Italian Motor Vehicles. Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Ducati, Maserati and Lamborghini's. The respective motor vehicle clubs put on display a range of Italian motor vehicles, motorbikes and scooters from private collections, dealers and distributors. Produced by Alessandro Sorbello Productions for New Realm Media
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Due to its experience gathered from decades of world motorsport, Maserati is also responsible for engineering innovations that form the basis for ordinary road cars today. Among its innovations, the world’s first hydraulic brakes appearing on the Maserati 8C/8CM in 1933. After experimenting with innovations such as disc brakes and fuel injection on the all conquering Maserati 250F race car, these technologies were first introduced to production road cars with the Maserati 3500GT in 1961, template for the current 3200GT coupé. Throughout its 75 year history, Maserati has collected nearly 500 outright race wins, 23 World Championships and 32 Formula 1 Grand Prixs.
Whilst financial mismanagement has seen the famous trident brand pass through various hands over the years, the passion for building beautiful motor cars has never faded. Stunning models of the 1960’s like the A6 1500 Sport, the 3500GT and 5000GT. Striking designs like the Maserati Indy, Bora and Merak all found homes in the driveways of the rich and famous in the 1970’s.
The Maserati story
The name Maserati conjures different images to different people. If, say, you remember the first Mille Miglia or other races of the day, you may remember Alfieri or Ernesto Maserati as builders and drivers of some of the best race cars of the era. For some who remember this era, it was the ever-talented Nuvolari who was the only person able to beat the all-conquering Mercedes/Auto Unions, at the wheel of his Maserati. For some, the name brings back images of the golden years of F1, the Tipo 250F, and all of its successes. Still for others, it was the brilliant GT cars of the sixties and seventies. Exotic, but seemingly very practical when compared to their cross town rivals at the time (Ferrari).
The name Maserati, first and foremost belongs to the family that produced the Maserati brothers. There were seven Maserati brothers (born in Voghera to traindriver Rodolfo Maserati and his wife Carolina Losi): Carlo b 1881; Bindo b 1883; Alfieri b 1885 (he died in infancy and his name was given to the next son); Alfieri b 1887; Mario b 1890; Ettore b 1894; and Ernesto b 1898. All of the Maseratis were involved in the engineering, design, and construction of cars, except for Mario, who was a painter and is presumed to have invented the company trademark, the trident, borrowed from the statue of Neptune in the square of the same name in Bologna.
Carlo, the eldest brother, was the first to become involved with engines. He worked in a bicycle factory in Affori, near Milan and designed a single-cylinder engine for a velocipede, which was later manufactured by Marquis Carcano di Anzano del Parco. Carlo Maserati also raced on Carcano bikes equipped with the engine he had designed, winning a few races and setting a speed record of 50 km/h (31 mph) in 1900.
Carlo moved to Fiat in 1901 when Carcano closed down and then, in 1903, to Isotta Fraschini, where he worked as a mechanic and test driver. He also managed to have his brother Alfieri taken on at Isotta, despite the fact that he was only 16 at the time. He then worked and raced for Bianchi, and went on to become General Manager of Junior. Carlo was the first to actually build a car. This single cylinder engine with the very simple chassis was the first ever Maserati. He built not only cars, but was actually commissioned to build aircraft engines as well. While working for Junior, Carlo raced cars himself. ( Carlo raced a Bianchi at the 1907 Coppa Florio. Unfortunately, he had to stop often to replace the low voltage ignition breaker arms. He still finished seventh. After that, Carlo began replacing low voltage systems with high voltage ones, which alleviated these problems.)
Carlo resigned from Junior, and he took over a plant formerly devoted to pharmaceuticals. There Carlo, with Ettore, converted many ignitions to the high voltage type for private customers. Carlo was working on a radial aircraft engine that he was commissioned to build during this time. Carlo's brilliant but ultimately short career ended in 1929 when he fell ill and died at age 29 - the radial engine was never finished.
Alfieri soon emerged as Carlo's spiritual heir, with the same extrovert personality and skills as a technician and driver. In 1908, Isotta entrusted a car to him which he took to 14th place in the Grand Prix for Voiturettes in Dieppe, in spite of the carburettor breaking. In the meantime, Bindo and Ettore had also joined Isotta Fraschini, where Alfieri had started out as a mechanic and progressed to driving. In 1912, after having represented the company in Argentina, the USA and Great Britain with his brother Ettore, Alfieri was put in charge of Isotta’s customer service structure in Bologna.
The wide-ranging experience he had built up in his career convinced Alfieri that he was ready to explore the possibility of going into business in his own right to exploit his talents and creativity in full. In 1914, he rented office space in Via dé Pepoli, in Bologna’s old town centre and this went on to become, opening on 1 December 1914, the first headquarters of the Società Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati.
At Societá Anonima Officine Alfieri Maserati, Alfieri specialised in Isotta Fraschini's and after the war founded a spark-plug factory initially at Milan, later moving it to Bologna. However, Maserati was little more than a garage run by a family of motoring enthusiasts who had a tradition of superlative craftsmanship and a passion for cutting-edge engineering. It was there that the first race cars were built, using the chassis' from Isotta Fraschini coupled with aircraft engines. Cars from Diatto were also modified for a short time. Suffice it to say, Maserati was on the map, building cars for customers and winning races. Thus Maserati started building race cars. Currently only 4 automotive manufacturers exist that were founded on racing. These are Maserati, Ferrari, Lotus and McLaren. Of these four, Maserati is the oldest by far.
(Alfieri began his career as a racing driver and soon proved his worth, winning on the Susa-Moncenisio, the Mugello Circuit and the Aosta-Great Saint Bernard. Diatto offered him a chance to design cars for the company and even to race with them. Unfortunately, in 1924, having dominated the San Sebastiano GP, he was disqualified for five years, even though he had retired, for having replaced the 2-litre engine in his car with a 3-litre unit. The penalty was lifted a few months later. Away from the racing world, Alfieri dedicated himself entirely to the workshop and in 1926, after leaving Diatto, he produced the Tipo 26, the first all-Maserati car, and the first to sport the trident trademark.)
But the real route lay in constructing one's own vehicles, and thus they built their first complete car, with an 8 cylinder dohc in-line 1.5-litre engine fitted with a Roots supercharger. This first true Maserati "production" car, the Tipo 26, did not emerge until 14 April 1926. Where better to premiere the first Maserati, but at the racetrack, where it won the Targa Florio on 25 April 1926? This was the birth of the Maserati trademark as we know it today, being the first car to bear the Maserati Trudent. The symbol was taken from Giambologna's Neptune designed by his brother Mario, and was to become the signifying feature of future Maseratis. Alfieri drove brilliant races, first in class, and ahead of many other larger displacement machines, even though he had to stop once for a burst radiator hose!!
In 1927, Alfieri had a serious accident in the Messina Cup with the Tipo 26B, after taking third place at the Targa Florio. But even with him sidelined, Maserati still won the Italian Constructors' Championship and Ernesto Maserati, the Italian Drivers' title. In 1929 the V4 appeared, with a 16-cylinder engine, making its debut at the Italian Grand Prix and setting the world Class C speed record over 10 km at 246.069 km/h in Cremona, with Baconin Borzacchini. The record set by the V4 helped to enhance the company’s image and guaranteed a considerable influx of funds, allowing the company and its activities to expand.
The rapid rise to engineering and racing supremacy was celebrated in magnificent style in 1929 when Maserati shattered the world land speed record over 10km with a speed of 246.069 km/h. The car was the V4 powered by an amazing 280 BHP 16-cylinder 3961cc engine and was driven by Baconin Borzacchini. The same combination racked up Maserati's first Grand Prix victory at Tripoli a year later.
Meanwhile, the Maserati operation expanded in all directions. The first Maserati Grand Tourer with a Castagna body made its debut at the Milan Show in 1931. Count Theo Rossi di Montelera also employed a Maserati engine on his powerboat, which went on to win the world water speed record in the same year. This was the first record in a long series of Maserati successes in the powerboat sector.
In 1931 came the 4CTR and the front-wheel-drive 8C 2500, the last car to be designed by Alfieri Maserati, who died on 3 March 1932, aged 44. An enormous crowd attended his funeral in Bologna, including workers from the plant, famous drivers, and ordinary people, who wanted to show their affection for the great man. Alfieri's death did not discourage the Maserati brothers; Bindo left Isotta Fraschini and returned to Bologna to continue the great venture began by Alfieri, with Ernesto and Ettore. The remaining brothers continued the work with successful models such as the Tipo 8CM and 6CM emerging under their direction. However, from 1932 till 1939, after Alfieri's death, Maserati cars were built and raced principally by Ernesto. Ernesto was also the sole engine designer after Alfieri's death. He drove the cars with some success and this led to many of his sales.
In 1933, Tazio Nuvolari joined the team, making a significant technical contribution, particularly in the fine tuning of the chassis, adapting it to the characteristics of the new engine; Nuvolari won the Belgian Grand Prix, and those of Montenero and Nice. That was when Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union began a sustained assault on the racing scene, making life difficult for Maserati in the more important races.
However, Maserati's racing activities continued to be intense and successful. Maserati cars were winning races on tracks all over Europe and the brand was rapidly gaining a reputation for advanced engineering. Among its innovations, the world's first hydraulic brakes appeared on the 8C/8CM in 1933. This was the same car that Giuseppe Campari drove to victory in the French Grand Prix and Tazio Nuvolari did the same in the Belgian and Nice Grand Prix. 1934 brought another world speed record (222km/h) in the 1100cc class. The car was the 4CM, the driver Giuseppe Furmanik.
This success led the brothers to direct output toward this area. In 1936, they found a patron in Gino Rovere who invested a great deal in the company and appointed Nino Farina, his "protégé", as Chairman. The 6CM appeared, which gave Maserati the competitive edge in the voiturette class.
In 1937, the Maserati brothers handed over the financial management of their company to the Orsi family, while keeping their hands on the engineering side of the business. As stipulated in the contract, the Maserati brothers continued to work with the Orsi family for ten years. Note should be made of the 1939 and 1940 victories at the Indianapolis 500 with the 8CTF, a 3-litre eight cylinder with twin superchargers. They remain the only Indianapolis victories by an Italian marque.
The Orsi family control opened the way to operations on a much broader scale, which bore fruit in two successive race wins on United States soil. In 1939 and 1940, Maserati won the Indianapolis 500 with Wilbur Shaw in an 8CTF. That made Maserati the first and only Italian constructor to win the legendary American race.
Meanwhile in 1939, the firm moved to its now celebrated premises on Viale Ciro Menotti in Modena. It is here that its extraordinary creativity was deployed in the service of the Italian war effort as it converted to the production of machine tools, electrical components, spark plugs and even electric vehicles. Once the war ended, Maserati got back to its normal business, creating the Maserati A6 1500 Sport, around which Pininfarina built an elegant coupé body. The racing version was the A6GCS, a highly original streamlined barchetta with offset engine and motorbike-type wings separate from the body. This is the car that Alberto Ascari drove to victory on its first outing at Modena.
The Orsi family wanted to build road cars, and thus the families fell out, the remaining Maserati brothers leaving the firm that bears their name in 1947 to found OSCA.
The A6 emerged in 1946, followed by the A6G and the A6G54. These cars were still really a sideline to the motorsport side of the business, and were used in many races, as well as forming the basis for more potent competition cars. These years saw the last real effort in motorsport by the Trident, concentrating on the newly formed Formula One championship with involvement also in the Sport category.
In 1947, Ferrari and Maserati launched an exciting all-Italian duel on the racetracks all over the world. After several wins, life became less easy for Maserati in the 1950s as Alfa Romeo and Ferrari were extremely competitive. In 1953, Gioacchino Colombo was appointed Chief Engineer and modified the A6GCM. The team was also strengthened by the arrival of drivers of the calibre of Fangio, Gonzalez, Marimon, Bonetto and de Graffenried, and brought home some important victories in the 1953 season; in fact, Fangio won that year's Italian Grand Prix from Ascari and Farina in Ferraris. Colombo also laid the foundation for the Maserati 250F.
However, if these were the years of a Maserati revival, they also saw the arrival of a powerful new rival. In 1953, the Maserati A6GCM 2000, with Juan Manual Fangio at the wheel, came second in the World Championship behind Alberto Ascari in a Ferrari.
1954 saw the debut of the legendary Maserati 250F with a 2500cc 6-cylinder engine and transverse rear gearbox unit. This was the car that started out by winning Fangio the Argentine Grand Prix and ultimately the World Drivers' title. At the same time, several A6G spyder and coupé models with bodies by Frua, Allemano and Zagato came out.
In 1955, an aerodynamic 250F with a wrap-around body was created for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. In the meantime, Maserati was experimenting with advanced engineering systems like disc brakes and fuel injection. Maserati brought its Grand Prix career to a glorious finale in 1957 at the end of a triumphant season, which started out with the first three places in Argentina and ended with Fangio's world title in the 250F. That same year, Maserati designed a 12-cylinder 2500cc engine for Formula 1 and previewed the 3500GT 2+2 seater sports coupé at the Geneva Show. It was the start of a new era for the trident marque - concentrating on producing the world's best coupés and sports saloons.
The 3500GT remained in production until 1964 and was responsible for introducing a whole series of important innovations, such as twin-plug ignition systems, disc brakes and fuel injection. Maserati's advancement in technology on the racetrack was the start of using racing experience for future road going motor vehicles.
All this expenditure, however, left the company's finances even weaker than before and so in 1957 they ceased all motorsport activities (apart from continuing to support clients). That year also saw the launch of the first true road car, the 3500GT. This was a luxury GT coupe and was built in much greater numbers than any of the preceding models. Later, in 1964, a variant designed by Vignale became known as the Sebring.
However, the departure of the official Maserati team from racing did not end the firm's interest in motor sport and in 1958 it launched the Tipo 60 (2 litre version) and Tipo 61 (2.9 litre version). It was nicknamed the 'Birdcage' after its revolutionary chassis that was constructed out of a trellis of slender tubes. These were rapidly replaced by the rear-engined Tipos 63 and 64. For the 1962 Le Mans, there was also born the Tipo 151, but it did not achieve its aim. When a special 500 mile invitation race was organised on the Monza high-speed track for Indy specialists, Maserati was there with a special car (the Maserati Eldorado) with a V8 engine driven by Stirling Moss.
That same engine appeared on the 450S powerboat, which ruled the waves in its day and also powered the prestigious 5000GT with touring body that was created for the Shah of Persia. In the sixties, Maserati expanded its GT operations as the Sebring (the final development of the 1962 3500GT) was followed by the Mistral in 1963. Named as the fastest saloon in the world, the Quattroporte was also introduced in 1963.
However, while officially retired from motorsport, Maserati had not stopped engineering racing cars, which included special Berlinetta models for the Le Mans 24-hour race. This included the Sport Tipo 65, with its rear-mounted engine and the highly original transverse V12 engine it created for the Formula 1 1500. In 1966, the Ghibli coupé, the first Maserati entirely designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, went into production and a new 3-litre 12-cylinder Formula 1 engine was developed. In the first year of the new formula, the Cooper-Maserati driven by John Surtees won the Mexican Grand Prix, as well as taking second and third places in the World Championship.
Maserati also continued to build racing prototypes for private teams, and to supply engines for the Formula 1 cars of other constructors, such as Cooper, for which it developed a 12-cylinder, three-valve engine with triple ignition in 1965.
In 1968, Maserati turned out a record 733 cars and acquired a new shareholder in Citroën (although Adolfo Orsi remained Honorary Chairman of the company). That same year, it launched the Indy 2+2 coupé and started production of the new V6 engine. This was the engine that powered the revolutionary Citroën SM that went into production in 1970. This era might be described as the low point for the Maserati marque, where it suffered the indignity of having its Italian body stuffed with Gallic hydraulics, all the while receiving no mass marketing support.
At the 1971 Geneva Show, Maserati launched the Bora, a two-seater, mid-engined Grand Tourer that gave way to the very similar Merak 2+2 seater with V6 engine a year later. That same year, the SM won the Moroccan Rally, giving Maserati its first ever success in that type of race.
In 1975, the effects of the oil crisis forced Citroën to draw in its horns. On 23 May 1975, Citroën announced that Maserati had gone into liquidation (the French car maker had signed an agreement with Peugeot but it had lost interest in the Modena company). Pressure from the industrialists’ association and the local and provincial councils succeeded in persuading the government to intervene, and Maserati avoided closure by handing over control to GEPI (a government agency that financed companies in difficulty in order to save jobs).
In an agreement signed on 8 August 1975, most of the company's share capital was acquired by the Benelli company, and Alejandro De Tomaso, an Argentinean former racing driver who had also competed for Maserati, became Managing Director. Alejandro De Tomaso, described charitably as a charming entrepreneur, took control of not only Maserati, but also Moto Guzzi, Benelli and Innocenti. He had previously also owned both Ghia and Vignale. Part of De Tomaso’s deal was a pledge to the Italian government to increase production numbers to expand employment, a promise that gave birth to the Biturbo.
Under GEPI's management, the firm produced a 2000cc version of the Merak and in 1976 it launched a new version of the Quattroporte. This went on to become the best selling Maserati of all time. The Quattroporte was also famous for being the vehicle of choice for successive Italian presidents.
Shortly thereafter, Chrysler and Maserati got together to build the short–lived Chrysler TC by Maserati, an arrangement that produced just 7,300 cars. This endeavour was rooted more than just a little in the friendship between the 'charismatic' men in charge of the two companies, Lee Iacocca and De Tomaso. Iaccoca once said that De Tomaso was the worst plant manager he ever saw, but wished he had a dozen negotiators just like him. As a result of De Tomaso’s brilliant skills, Chrysler purchased 16 percent of Maserati and provided new manufacturing equipment to build the ill–fated Chrysler LeBaron–esque TC.
The eighties brought many changes, not least the creation of a model destined for mass production. That was the surprising Biturbo, a performance saloon with a 2000cc V6 engine that was launched in 1981. In 1984, an impressive 6,000 Biturbos were constructed. Further development of the turbocharged V6 engine led in 1989 to the launch of the Shamal that featured the first Maserati V8 adopting twin turbos.
Fiat purchased 49 percent of Maserati in January 1990. (De Tomaso suffered a massive stroke during the negotiations, never fully recovered, and died on 21 May 2003.) The Italian auto conglomerate purchased the final 51 percent in May of 1993.
In July 1997, Ferrari purchased 50% of Maserati (increased to 100% in 1999). Work began on the new Maserati factory on 1 October 1997 and Ferrari spent a much–needed $200 million upgrading the 66 year old factory in Modena where all Maseratis are built today. The Quattroporte Evoluzione came out in 1998.
Utilising the talents of the Ferrari group, and its driveline and suspensions as well, the Maserati 3200GT coupe was also born in 1998. Stylish though imperfectly constructed, it gave Ferrari an “entry–level” Italian exotic. The 3200GT used an all–new chassis and Giugiaro–designed body, and was powered by a “new” turbocharged engine, which was really an evolution of existing designs. The 3200GT coupé was launched at the Paris Motorshow. It was both the first Maserati of the new era and a revival of a 4-seater Grand Tourer tradition that began forty years earlier with the 3500GT. The 3200GT was first shown to the Australian public at the 1999 Melbourne Motorshow. The 3200GT instantly captured the attention of Australian automotive aficionados, as the entire yearly production set aside for Australia was sold even before a single test drive took place.
The new millennium opened with the complete reorganisation of the Maserati sales network. In the constant search for improvement and growth, the Viale Ciro Menotti factory underwent major expansion work. At an estimated cost of 25 million Euros, the plant expanded to 51,000 square metres including 30,000 square metres of buildings. In a bid to keep up with international demand, an additional ultra-modern production line was completed at the end of 2001. In 2001, the new Spyder appeared, and was unveiled for the first time at the Frankfurt Motor Show, during which Maserati also announced its intention to return to the North American market. This decision was confirmed in January 2002, when the Coupé made its world debut at the Detroit Motor Show. Like the Spyder, it introduced a number of important innovations, from a new 4,200 cc 390-bhp V8 engine, to its suspension, chassis and F1-type gearbox.
More recently, Maserati has signed an agreement with Volkswagen for the German company to share its Audi division's Quattro all-wheel-drive technology (originally meant for the still-born Maserati Kubang sport-utility vehicle concept) for Maserati's current Quattroporte platform. The agreement has been made on the condition that there will be no corporate espionage or reverse engineering, since Volkswagen owns two of Ferrari's direct rivals, Lamborghini and Bugatti.
In 2004, while Maseratisti from all over the world assembled in Modena and Rome to celebrate Maserati's 90th anniversary, at Oschersleben in Germany, Maserati raced to its first international race victory since 1967 when Mika Salo and Andrea Bertolini, driving the sensational new MC12, won the 9th round of the FIA GT Championship.
In 2005, as a consequence of the termination of the agreement between Fiat and General Motors under which GM may have been obliged to buy Fiat's car division, Maserati was separated from Ferrari and brought back under Fiat's full control. Fiat plans to create a sports and luxury division from Maserati and another of its marques, Alfa Romeo. GM had to pay Fiat around $2,000,000,000.
Rumours are that Maserati in whole will be sold to Alessandro and Felix Benetton for a staggering amount of 2,600,000,000 and will be under sole management by the two brothers. Alessandro and Felix Benetton of United Colors of Benetton are the heirs to the world's largest fashion fortune and, with nearly 21 billion each, they will become two of the world's wealthiest men. With Maserati under their belt, it is said they believe they can expand the Benetton horizon through automobiles and high end design.
Posted by Alessandro Sorbello Productions at 3:37 PM
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The following is a brief history. The car was originally delivered to Mr B W Lonsdale of Canberra, ACT on 5 November 1973. Subsequent owners were Dr Michael Callam of Brisbane, Queensland from 23 October 1996, Mark Baigent of Brisbane from September (?) 1997 and Mark Mitchel from 23 May 2000
Posted by Alessandro Sorbello Productions at 3:15 PM
Modifications are larger wheels and high profile tyres, under-body protection, uprated springs and shock absorbers, mudflaps, dust light, second speedometer and UHF radio.
Posted by Alessandro Sorbello Productions at 3:12 PM
1982 Alfetta 2.0 Sportiva II sedan.
It was completely stripped and handbuilt in 2001 at Avanti Spares with all components (bar engine) rebuilt or replaced with new parts.
Body shell was fitted with a welded in 26-point roll cage manufactured by Avanti, load tested and engineer certified.
New floor modifications to take two types of six point harnesses and race seats.
The engine is a standard two litre with standard carburetors. The camshafts are PACE 2229 items and the pistons are hi compression items. Headers are custom and so are the intake trumpets (built by Avanti). A rpm limiter device is fitted with shift light.
Radiator is a modified item and is triple core plus serpentine flowed. It has twin Davis Craig fans which can be manually operated from the dash. This set up is proven to be effective when rallying in Adelaide in low forty degree heat.
Suspension consists of uprated torsion bars in front and springs in the rear with emphasis on extended suspension travel.
Shock absorbers are Proflex remote canister items manufactured by Murray Coote.
Brakes are four pot calipers in front and standard in the rear, all four running race brake pads.
Differential is uprated 4.56 final drive and is limited slip with 50 percent lockup.
Gears are Autodelta copy close ratio and straight cut items with one to one ratio fifth gear.
Other assessories include;
a. Peltor on board intercom;
b. Fire extinguishers;
c. Belt cutters;
d. Windscreen hammer;
e. First aid kit;
f. Safety triangles;
g. Video camera with lipstick lens;
h. CamelBak drink backpacks.
Car is built to Limited Modified category and retains many of its standard fittings including all glass work.
Posted by Alessandro Sorbello Productions at 2:55 PM
It has a wooden steering wheel (not standard), new interior trim, 105 mirrors I think, late model Sud door handles, side and wheel arch protector strips. It is nice for people to see that Alfa also made small cars. But they don't know what is under the bonnet. The ti only weighs around 880Kg.
Great power to weight with the 105 engine. My car is kept tuned up by Barnes Performance people, the only ones who would tune twin webers.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
While small quantities of cars were imported prior to World War II, the bulk of Fiat sales here were in the sixties and seventies, with sales declining through the eighties and Fiat finally leaving our market by the start of the nineties. Consequently, the majority of our current club member's cars are the sixties and seventies models.
After an abscence of around twelve years, Fiat has fianlly returned to our market with the NEW Punto. Fiat announced that it will return to Australian car showrooms on Saturday 1 July 2006 with the all-new Fiat Punto heralding a range of new cars from the renowned Italian car maker. The Fiat Ducato commercial vehicles became available in 2002.
Following its launch in Europe last year, the Punto has proven to be an outstanding success for Fiat Auto. It has driven straight to the top of the sales charts, doubled Fiat sales in markets such as the UK and made Fiat the fastest growing major marque in Europe this year. The Fiat Punto will arrive in Australia with a choice of three or five doors, four different engines including some of the most advanced diesel engines in the market and an equipment level and price combination that will place it at the top of the value for money league. The Fiat range will be sold initially from the Alfa Romeo dealer group, but, as sales grow, Fiat-specific dealers will be appointed across Australia.
The Fiat Car Club of Queensland had unofficial beginnings early in 1964. From a chance meeting of some Fiat owners prior to the Tasman Series race at Lakeside International Raceway, it was suggested by one of them that it would be a great idea to drive to Lakeside on the following Sunday in convoy.
A phone call to prominent 4BH Disc Jockey and race driver Bill Gates produced three or four announcements on his Saturday afternoon show. These asked any Fiat owners who wished to go to Lakeside to meet the next morning outside Europa Motors (later Continental Car Service).
The result was that approximately 20 assorted Fiats of the day and their occupants had their first outing together. Over the next couple of months suggestions of forming a club were brought forward and this eventually led to the inaugural meeting at the QMSC clubrooms on July 30, 1964.
The first monthly newsletter went out on August 3, and the first club events were a general meeting on August 6 followed by an Observation Day Run to College's Crossing on Sunday the 9th. Other club events in the early years consisted of Motorkhanas, Night Navigation Runs and Day Runs.
By the early Seventies the club was growing considerably as Fiats were selling quite well by imported car standards, and mainly attracting "enthusiast motorists" as their owners. Membership grew thanks to the efforts of many in the motor trade, who made new Fiat owners aware of the existence and benefits of the club.
Club events were expanded to meet the needs of the enthusiastic members, and now also featured speed events such as lap dashes, hillclimbs, rallies and sprints. By then the trek south for the annual Tri-State Motorkhana Challenge was the highlight of the year's calendar, and our team finally managed to win the Fiat of Italy Cup for the first of many times in 1976.
Throughout the Seventies and Eighties competition events were the mainstay of the club's activities, but into the Nineties as the cars (and members) got older and more tired the emphasis swung back to social events. However, the insurance issues which arose in the early 2000's have necessitated a re-think of the club's activities and the decision was made in 2003 to affiliate the club with the Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS) to allow the running of more competitive events with appropriate insurance cover.
As of 2004 the club is now CAMS affiliated and will be conducting a wider range of events to cater for the broad range of interests of our many members. It will now also be able to offer CAMS licensing for all interested members. Membership of the club also entitles members with vehicles over thirty years of age to apply for concessional registration with Queensland transport.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Fiat S.p.A., is an Italian automobile manufacturer, engine manufacturer, financial and industrial group based in Turin, Northern Italy. Founded in 1899 by a group of investors including Giovanni Agnelli, the company name FIAT is an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Italian Automobile Factory of Turin), and it also means "let there be" in Latin. Fiat was also an aircraft manufacturer at one time.
Agnelli's grandson Gianni Agnelli was Fiat chairman from 1966 until his death on January 24, 2003. However, from 1996, he only served as an "honorary" chairman, while the chairman was Cesare Romiti. After their removal, Paolo Fresco served as chairman and Paolo Cantarella as CEO. Umberto Agnelli then took over as chairman from 2002 to 2004. After Umberto Agnelli's death on May 28, 2004, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo was named chairman, but Agnelli heir John Elkann became vice chairman at age 28 and other family members are on the board. At this point, CEO Giuseppe Morchio immediately offered his resignation. Sergio Marchionne was named to replace him on June 1, 2004.
Activities FIAT Group Revenues by Industry in 2004The group's activities were initially focused on the industrial production of cars, industrial and agricultural vehicles. Over time it has diversified into many other fields, and the group now has activities in a wide range of sectors in industry and financial services. It is Italy's largest industrial concern. It also has significant worldwide operations, operating in 61 countries with 1,063 companies that employ over 223,000 people, 111,000 of whom are outside Italy.
Automobiles Fiat 500 (2007) in Turin Fiat Grande PuntoList of Fiat models since 1899
Fiat Group is the largest automobile manufacturer in Italy, with a range of cars including the Fiat Panda, Grande Punto, Stilo, Idea, Croma, Ulysse and Doblò. Car companies are run by Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A, Ferrari S.p.A. and Maserati S.p.A.. Today automobile group runs well known firms like Lancia Automobiles S.p.A, Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A, Abarth & C. S.p.A., Fiat Automobiles S.p.A, IVECO S.p.A., and Maserati S.p.A.. Ferrari S.p.A. is owned by the Fiat Group, but is run autonomously. Light automobile sales accounted for 46.8% of total revenues during fiscal 2004 (3.2% of which is from Ferrari).
The European Car of the Year award, Europe's premier automotive trophy for the past 40 years, has been awarded twelve times to the Fiat Group, more than any other manufacturer. Most recently the Fiat Nuova 500 has won the award for European Car of the Year 2008
Motorcycles and aeronauticsIn 1959, Piaggio came under the control of the Agnelli family. Resultantly, in 1964 the aeronautical and motorcycle divisions split to become independent companies; the aeronautical division was named IAM Rinaldo Piaggio. Today the airplane company Piaggio Aero is controlled by the family of Piero Ferrari, which also still hold 10% of the carmaker Ferrari.
Vespa thrived until 1992, when Giovanni Alberto Agnelli became CEO - but Agnelli was already suffering from cancer, and died in 1997. In 1999, Morgan Grenfell Private Equity acquired Piaggio
Fiat itself was an important aircraft manufacturer, focused mainly on military aviation. After the World War I, Fiat consolidated several Italian small aircraft manufacturers, like Pomilio and Ansaldo. Most famous were Fiat biplane fighter aircraft of the 1930s, Fiat CR.32 and Fiat CR.42. Other notable designs were fighters CR.20, G.50, G.55 and a bomber, the Fiat BR.20. In 1950s, the company designed the G.91 light ground attack plane. Then, in 1969 an aerospace division of Fiat merged with Aerfer to create Aeritalia.
ComponentsThe major Italian component maker Magneti Marelli is owned by Fiat, and in turn owns the other brands Carello, Automotive Lighting, Siem, Cofap, Jaeger, Solex, Veglia Borletti, Vitaloni, and Weber; other accessory brands include Riv-Skf and Brazilian Cofap.
Fiat supports the Fondazione Giovanni Agnelli, an important foundation for social and economic research. Palazzo Grassi, a famous ancient building in Venice, now a museum and formerly supported by Fiat, was eventually sold to the french businessman François Pinault in January 2005.
Fiat has recently begun sponsoring the Jamaican bobsledding team and promoting this sponsorship through commercials. Many like Jamaican athletes because they see them as underdogs and as people who enjoy life. While Volvo sponsors golf, Mercedes tennis, and Hyundai soccer, Fiat is trying to look unique and more light-hearted. Further, the team is relatively cheap to sponsor.5
HistoryGiovanni Agnelli founded Fiat in 1899 with several investors and led the company until his death in 1945, while Vittorio Valletta administered the day-to-day activities of the company. In 1903, Fiat produced its first truck.8 In 1908, the first Fiat was exported to the US.9 That same year, the first Fiat aircraft engine was produced. Also around the same time, Fiat taxis became somewhat popular in Europe.10 By 1910, Fiat was the largest automotive company in Italy — a position it has retained since. That same year, a plant licensed to produce Fiats in Poughkeepsie, NY, made its first car. This was before the introduction of Ford's assembly line in 1913. Owning a Fiat at that time was a sign of distinction. A Fiat sold in the U.S. cost between $3,600 and $8,600, compared to US$825 the Model T in 1908.11 However, upon the entry of the US into World War I in 1917, the factory was shut down as US regulations became too burdensome. At the same time, Fiat had to devote all of its factories to supplying the Allies with aircraft, engines, machine guns, trucks, and ambulances. After the war, Fiat introduced its first tractor.12 By the early 1920s, Fiat had a market share in Italy of 80%.13 In 1921, workers seized Fiat's plants and hoisted the red flag of communism over them. Agnelli responded by quitting the company, retiring to private life, and letting the workers try to run the company. Shortly afterward, 3,000 of them walked to his office and asked him to return to the helm — a request to which he reluctantly agreed. In 1922, Fiat began to build the famous Lingotto car factory — the largest in Europe up to that time — which opened in 1923. It was the first Fiat factory to use assembly lines; by 1925, Fiat controlled 87% of the Italian car market. Fiat made military machinery and vehicles during World War II for the Army and Regia Aeronautica and later for the Germans. Fiat made obsolete fighter aircraft like the biplane CR42, which was one of the most common Italian aircraft, along with Savoia-Marchettis, as well as light tanks (obsolete compared to their German and Soviet counterparts) and armored vehicles. The best Fiat aircraft was the G55 fighter, which arrived too late and in too limited numbers. In 1945 — the year Mussolini was overthrown - the Italian Committee of National Liberation removed the Agnelli family from leadership roles in Fiat because of its ties to Mussolini's government. These were not returned until 1963, when Giovanni's grandson, Gianni, took over as general manager until 1966, as chairman until 1996. 14
Gianni AgnelliAmong Gianni's first steps after he gained control of Fiat was a massive reorganization of the company management, which had previously been highly centralized, with almost no provision for the delegation of authority and decision-making power. Such a system had worked effectively enough in the past but lacked the responsiveness and flexibility made necessary by Fiat's steady expansion and the growth of its international operations in the 1960's. The company was reorganized on a product-line basis, with two main product groups — one for passenger cars, the other for trucks and tractors — and a number of semi-independent division and subsidiaries. Top management, freed from responsibility for day-by-day operations of the company, was able to devote its efforts to more far-reaching goals. In 1967, Fiat made its first acquisition when it purchased Autobianchi. Then, in 1969, it purchased controlling interests in Ferrari and Lancia. According to Newsweek in 1968, Fiat was "the most dynamic automaker in Europe...[and] may come closest to challenging the worldwide supremacy of Detroit." In 1967, Fiat, with sales amounting to $1.7 billion, outstripped Volkswagen, its main European competitor; in 1968 Fiat produced some 1,750,000 vehicles while its sales volume climbed to $2.1 billion. At the time, Fiat was a conglomerate, owning Alitalia, toll highways, typewriter and office machine manufacturer, electronics and electrical equipment firms, a paint company, a civil engineering firm, and an international construction company. Following up on an agreement that Valletta had made with Soviet officials in 1966, Agnelli constructed the AvtoVAZ plant in the new city of Togliattigrad on the Volga that went into operation in 1970 - producing a local version of the Fiat 124 - as the Lada. On his initiative, Fiat automobile and truck plants were also constructed in industrial centers of Yugoslavia, Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania. In 1979, the company became a holding company when it spun off its various businesses into autonomous companies, one of them being Fiat Auto. That same year, sales reached an all-time high in the United States, corresponding to the Iranian Oil Crisis. However, when gas prices fell again after 1981, Americans began purchasing sport utility vehicles, minivans and pickup trucks in larger numbers (marking a departure from their past preference for large cars). Also, Japanese automakers had been taking an ever-larger share of the car market, increasing at more than half a percent a year. Consequently, in 1984, Fiat and Lancia withdrew from the US market. In 1989, it did the same in the Australian market, although it remained in New Zealand.
In 1986, Fiat acquired Alfa Romeo from the Italian government. In 1992, two top corporate officials in the Fiat Group were arrested for political corruption.15 A year later, Fiat acquired Maserati. In 1995 Alfa Romeo exited the US market. Maserati re-entered the US market under Fiat in 2002. Since then, Maserati sales there have been increasing briskly.
Monday, December 3, 2007
As told by Ferruccio Lamborghini's son, Ferruccio Lamborghini went to meet Enzo Ferrari at the Ferrari factory to complain about the quality of the clutch in the Ferrari 250 GT he owned. Enzo Ferrari sent him away telling him to go and drive tractors because he was not able to drive cars. Lamborghini went back to his factory, had his Ferrari's clutch dismantled and realized that the clutch manufacturer was the same who supplied the clutches for his tractors. In his warehouse he found a spare part which he thought suitable, and when it was installed the problem was solved. Furious with what he considered to be Enzo Ferrari's arrogant and aloof treatment Ferrucio Lamborghini promised himself never to go back to Ferrari for another car but rather beat him at his own game by creating a superior sports car. Thus the idea of a Lamborghini sports car was born.
Under Ferruccio Lamborghini Lamborghini 400GTThe 350GT by Lamborghini was followed up by the 400GT. The excellent sales of the 400GT and its predecessor gave the company sufficient funds to design its first supercar - the now-legendary Lamborghini Miura, which was premiered by Ferruccio himself in November 1965 at the Turin Auto Show. The car's engine was transversely mounted. The styling was executed by Marcello Gandini in less than a year; a completed car was displayed at the Geneva Auto Show in March, 1966 (the Turin car was only a chassis). The car's name was taken from that of a famed fighting-bull trainer, Don Eduardo Miura. The Miura was a success for Lamborghini: 111 were sold in 1967, and it propelled the company into the small world of exotic supercar manufacturers.
In 1971, Lamborghini brought the unusual-looking LP500 Countach prototype, named after an Italian slang term uttered in surprise by a person who had just seen the new car. The production LP400 Countach was introduced three years later. The prototype was the first car to sport Lamborghini's now-traditional scissor doors, along with vertically mounted rear air intakes. The same 4-litre V12 engine was used, an uprated 5-litre engine arriving later in the Countach production. The Countach was also one of the first cars to use the new Pirelli P-Zero tires when they came out. Lamborghini's own test driver was sometimes the "chauffeur" for motoring magazines' journalists, and stories of the Countach's amazing high speed cornering, power and grip were common. Another point noted by journalists was the manner in which reversing a Countach was accomplished; raising the driver's door and sitting on the door sill.
In 1972, however, the company suffered a major setback. A massive tractor order for a South American nation was cancelled, rendering upgrades Lamborghini had already made to its factories in anticipation of the demand useless. The money lost drove Ferruccio to sell part of his share in the tractor factory, which was taken over by Fiat. The tractor business was eventually acquired by SAME (now Same Deutz-Fahr). Lamborghini tractors are still sold today, as part of the SAME Deutz-Fahr Group.
Throughout the seventies, sales of the Countach kept the company in business. Soon enough, the car division became self-sufficient and profitable. Lamborghini, however, sold all his remaining stock in the company to a Swiss investor, leaving the automotive industry behind to pursue wine making from the comfort of his villa in the countryside. Ferruccio Lamborghini died in February 1993 at the age of 76.
Type Subsidiary of Volkswagen Group
Founded 1963 by Ferruccio Lamborghini
Headquarters Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy, manufacturing facilities in Bologna
Key people Stephan Winkelmann, CEO Industry Manufacturing
Parent Audi AG
The company has come through a century of history, contributing many memorable pages to the history of the motorcar. There are icons that have always been part of the collective global image of Alfa Romeo: its 'cuore sportivo' or sporting heart, indomitable vitality, the sound of the engine, the elegance of the forms, and Italian design. So we have prepared a journey through time linking all the various images of the Alfa Romeo legend from its origins to the present day.The contents of this section are organized chronologically, along a timeline, marked by the key dates in Alfa Romeo's history from its origins to today. The themes that make up the history of Alfa Romeo are:
Passion. From 1910 to today: the evolution of a brand that has always been unmistakable. The perception of Alfa Romeo in a parallel journey through the evolution of Italian and international customs. Alfa Romeo in books and films, as an object of desire, a status symbol, an image of beauty and Italian expression.
Cars. From the Torpedo to the Duetto by way of the Giulietta. They are the UNFORGETTABLES: "technological masterpieces" from the epic age of the motorcar that captured the imagination of car lovers all over the world.
Races. Alfa Romeo has taken part in competitions since the first months of its existence: by vocation, by necessity, by conviction. An extraordinary run of success on the track, all signed Alfa Romeo.
Personalities. In memory of all the greats who have contributed to the creation of the Alfa Romeo legend, from Tazio Nuvolari, the "flying Mantuan", to Ferrari, Fangio, engineer Merosi, and designers Jano, Pininfarina, and Zagato.
The company. More than simply the story of the company as an institution, but also Alfa Romeo's long adventure, from the early years of the last century to the present day, in a historical journey full of color, facts and personalities.