November 15, 2004
What does a sports car have in common with penicillin? That was a question a lot of folks were likely wondering as they strolled through the central piazza inMilan, Italy, a few weeks back. The square was overrun with Maseratis, each featuring a graphic display celebrating a historic event that just happened to coincide with the automaker’s own, 90-year history. Forgive the automaker for rushing to celebrate a birthday that actually falls in December. Not all that long ago, Maserati seemed likely to wind up on the automotive rubbish heap. It’s an improbable comeback, and not Maserati’s first. This time, with the engineering skills and plentiful cash of Ferrari, its long-time rival and now parent, the Italian automaker is making a bid to re-establish itself as a stylish alternative to more mass-market luxury brands like Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Critical will be the reception Maserati gets here in the U.S., the world’s largest luxury market. And consumers still remember the quality problems of decades past. Maserati’s turnaround is a long-shot, but at least it’s a well-funded one.