Market Finds: Maserati Perfected The Everyday Supercar Back In 1971

Maserati Perfected The Everyday Supercar Back In 1971

By Michael Banovsky
February 24, 2016

Let’s begin with a comparison: across a seven year run, Maserati made slightly more than 560 Boras. Roughly three times more 911 2.7 RS models left the Porsche factory in 1973 and 1974. The statistic speaks to many factors, not least of which is that, at the time, Maserati offered a largely handbuilt model range, had little cashflow, and the Bora wasn’t able to race in stock form. Oh, yeah, and what we now refer to as “The Oil Crisis” further disrupted buyer confidence early on in the car’s run.

Back then, for whatever reason, well-heeled customers simply didn’t buy the Bora—perhaps it was too good as a road car and too advanced to be a race car—but today, I think the car is an overlooked gem.

These days, “mid-range” mid-engined sports and supercars are big business—I’m not talking price, but capability. The Audi R8 is a suitably easy commuting companion, as is the BMW i8, Lotus Evora, Porsche Cayman…and if you’re keeping score, usability came onto the scene only after Honda figured out how to make its NSX a largely worry-free companion for its owners.

Thing is, that’s precisely what Maserati was trying to do with the Bora—but in the ’70s, building a fast, comfortable, and (relatively) spacious supercar was a gamble that didn’t pay off for the automaker. With the benefit of hindsight (especially in knowing that Maserati’s next new vehicle will be an SUV from the Jeep Grand Cherokee platform), wouldn’t a fast, comfortable, spacious mid-engined supercar be just the ticket for a new Maserati?

While you wait for that to happen, consider the Bora.

Styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro with effortlessly elegant lines, Maserati’s then-“controlling interest” owners Citroën endowed the supercar with LHM hydraulics for the disc brakes, movable pedal box, headlights, and vertical movement of the driver’s seat. The car also had a dual-pane front windshield, an interior partially cribbed from the Citroën SM, sound deadening, huge front trunk…

…and would still do 171 mph, on par with the Lamborghini Miura. There’s not enough space here to get into exactly what engine (4.7-litre or 4.9-litre V8), gearing, or emissions controls to remove before you’d hit that speed, but this Bora offered by Gooding & Company with no reserve should take you most of the way there. A desirable US-specification model with the more powerful 4.9-litre race-derived V8 motor, the car has seen just three owners from new, and has been treated to a recent and extensive service.

With fewer than 2,700 miles, the car definitely wasn’t used for cross-continent jaunts and lengthy driving tours over its life. That said, there’s nothing stopping you from filling the trunk with luggage, the passenger seat with a partner, and hitting the road with your very own ’70s supercar.

– Three owners from new

~300 horsepower, 4.9-litre DOHC aluminum V-8 engine with four Weber 42 DCNF Twin-Choke carburetors, front and rear independent suspension with coil springs, telescopic shocks and anti-roll bars, and four-wheel ventilated hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 102.4 in.

Vehicle Information
Chassis: AM117/49*568*
Engine: AM107/11/49

Photography courtesy of Gooding & Company / Photos by Chip Riegel

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Neil Saaty
Neil Saaty
8 years ago

When I saw these at the ’74 L.A. Auto Expo, it was lust at first sight. I was 15 years old and was just developing a serious interest in cars, so I had no idea there was such a thing as an exotic car; I’d not yet heard of Maserati or Lamborghini. I was in awe of how cool and beautiful the Bora looked. It’s been my favorite car ever since.
I later decided I would buy one some day, but that day has not come and I doubt it will. The Merak makes an excellent second choice, though, especially the SS version.

Given its beauty, performance, refinement, driveability, and level of development, the Bora is in a class all its own.

Chris Ungaro
Chris Ungaro
8 years ago

Bora’s are fantastic cars, at the time it was costlier than the Muira or Daytona, better appointed for real world use also. These along with the little brother the Merak, (especially the later SS) are very much under appreciated. Mostly because the bar stool racers just look at the specs as they are on paper, not the specs on how they work in the real world of 90\% of your road driving.

Felix Trzetrzelewska
Felix Trzetrzelewska
8 years ago

James May’s segment on these a few years ago on TG changed my mind about them, big time. Beautiful car.

Larry Brantingham
Larry Brantingham
8 years ago

Just a few things – the US 4.9 isn’t necessarily more desirable. It was used to try to compensate for power sapping emissions controls. The cars still had less power than the original European market 4.7s. Fortunately, Maserati used cam timing, ignition curve and jetting to meet emissions rather than basic engine modifications, so if you add Euro style headers and make those changes, you can recover the power. Some of us (many?) have done this. There’s no Citroen influence inside the car. You might be thinking of the early Meraks, which used the SM dash. Giulio Alfieri was the one who chose to add the Citroen hydraulics and for good reasons. At the time, even supercars often had brake fade, but with the higher boiling point of LHM and higher clamping forces, Boras did not. Contemporary road tests made a point of this. The double glazing was for the panel between the passenger compartment and the engine compartment for noise abatement. The windshield is single pane.
The top speed claim was made with an early Euro 4.7 with longer gearing than the US cars have. Even so, it required going 100 rpm beyond the maximum engine rev number and quite a lot beyond the maximum sustained rpm of 5500. Marketing….

Frank Anigbo
8 years ago

Two owners from new or 3?

From my perspective, the styling of the Bora has always appeared just a bit too conservative for a Latin supercar, much like the original NSX which, however capable it may be, looks just too pedestrian. For the Bora, the Citroen influence and bits is also a big negative, unless you are the conservative type which most buyers of cars like these are not.

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