Maserati has always been known for cars of exceptional luxury, elegance and performance, demonstrated by the choice of Quattroporte models as the official cars of the Italian President.
On 14 December 1979 the Maserati Quattroporte 3rd generation, in both automatic and manual gear-shift, was presented to Italian President Sandro Pertini. The ceremony, held at the Quirinal Palace in Rome, was attended by the Minister of Industry and Trade, the Rt Hon Antonio Bisaglia, and the CEO of Maserati, Alejandro de Tomaso.
The Maserati Quattroporte 3rd generation (1979), designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, was the first completely new car to be designed during the de Tomaso management period (1976-1993), and featured lines inspired by the first, 1963, version of the Quattroporte, although with a less sporty and more formal personality.
The Quattroporte 3rd generation was characterised by a luxurious and refined interior.
It was fitted with the V8 engine, in variants of 4.2 L with 255 hp and 4.9 L with 280 hp. The top speed was 220 km/h. The car remained on the market from 1979 until 1990, with a total of 2,145 units sold.
In 1986 the “Royale” version was launched: it was a restyling with interior upgrades including soft leather seats and lavish use of burr walnut on the dashboard and door panels. Other distinctive features were the radio telephone in the compartment between the front seats and the small stow-away folding table in the rear doors. The Maserati Quattroporte Royale was equipped with a powerful 4.9 L V8 engine with 300 hp and just 51 were built withthis trim.
In 1982, the Italian President’s General Secretariat placed an order with Maserati for the construction of an armoured Quattroporte for the President’s use.
In 1983 the Modena firm supplied a Quattroporte, in “Dark Aquamarine” colour with beige velvet interior, to President Sandro Pertini, and it became his car of choice for institutional engagements.
One of the car’s original features was a large ashtray with pipe holder between the rear seats: this was requested by the President himself, and Maserati modified the rear bench to create it. The car also featured a bar cabinet, a telephone system, and an intercom for communication with people outside the car.
The car’s cabin was completely armoured and bullet-proof, with high-strength manganese steel plating. The windows were also armoured, 31 mm thick and made of polycarbonate with 4 electrically controlled windows.
The roof could be opened electrically above the rear seats to allow the President to stand up and greet crowds while on the move; a special handle was installed on the back of the right front seat to make this upright position safer and more comfortable.
The Head of State used the Quattroporte 3rd generation on all public occasions, including his historic visit to the Ferrari factory in Maranello on 29 May 1983. On that occasion, ceremonial etiquette demanded that once the car had entered the plant, the host, Enzo Ferrari should approach the presidential vehicle. However, Ferrari remained motionless about ten metres from the car. The elderly President Pertini got out of the Quattroporte and walked over to the Ferrari boss.
Enzo Ferrari did not move because of the long-standing local rivalry between the Prancing Horse and Trident brands.
In the 1980s, other famous personalities also chose the Quattroporte 3rd generation as their means of transport. Perhaps the best known was Modenese tenor Luciano Pavarotti; there are famous photographs of him in his Quattroporte outside La Scala in Milan.