This 1973 Maserati Bora 4700 Is A Beautiful Bronze Sculpture
Photography by Marco Annunziata
Last month, the Maserati MC20 was unveiled to the public at the Autodromo di Modena circuit. Some of the most important cars of Maserati’s past and present were neatly parked with their lights trained on the newcomer in a kind of open-air theater, all waiting for the new mid-engine sports car to join their ranks. One of these Maseratis that you may have seen in the photos and videos of the presentation evening is the very Bora pictured here, chassis AM117374, a European-spec 1973 4.7-liter version painted in a unique metallic bronze. It was sold new in Italy, and has never left.
It was exciting to see a new mid-engine Maserati unveiled, but if we go back to when the marque used to name their cars after the winds of the world instead of the modern codes we get now. It was 1967 when the Ghibli was presented, named after the hot winds of the Libyan desert, and four years later, a Mediterranean gust of inspiration blew in and brought us the Bora. The Bora was first presented to the public in March 1971, at the Geneva Motor Show, and it helped define the still-young market for mid-engine Italian sports cars. Unfortunately, production of the Bora soon overlapped with the Oil Crisis. It was not a great time to be in the business of selling sports cars, but that didn’t discourage loyal Maserati customers Karim Aga Khan and film producer Carlo Ponti, husband of Sophia Loren, who were among the first famous owners of the Bora.
Like the Ghibli, the Bora was also designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and assembled by the Officine Padane in Modena, it had a sleek wedge-like shape that was part of the burgeoning design zeitgeist of the time that traded curves for straighter, harder lines. Although the two cars have a certain similarity, compared to the Ghibli the Bora had a longer wheelbase (about 5cm) but shorter overhangs gave it a total length that was about 25cm shorter than its predecessor.
For this shoot, I met up with Marcello Candini (that’s not a typo) at his family’s workshop that we featured in the past. When I arrive, I find the Bora, one of Marcello and his father’s personal Maseratis, waiting for me out front. After talking a bit about the car and what was better and worse about the 1970s compared to now, a half century later, we decided to head out to our location. It’s a shame we couldn’t get changed into some bell bottoms, boots, and leather jackets, but this bronzed beaut will have to do.
The day is a hot one, and touching the brushed stainless steel roof feels like putting your hand on a flat top grille, but inside it’s quite nice, and we make use of the air-conditioning that functions better than one would expect given the provenance. Marcello is a fairly tall man, and he must do a bit of body origami to get himself inside. Indeed, getting in this car is not very easy no matter your stature, but once you’re plunked down in the bucket seats it feels very comfortable and more spacious than your contortions on the way in would suggest. The radio with cassette, installed by the previous owner, is playing classic Italian hits of the era. It all feels very period correct.
Compared to similar cars of the time, the thing that immediately strikes me once we get moving is the almost total absence of vibrations and noise due to the assembly of the engine, gearbox, and rear suspension unit on a chassis coupled to the bodywork with anti-vibration elements. It’s really a luxurious, supple ride. Furthermore, Marcello tells me that the passenger compartment is acoustically isolated by a double bulkhead.
As he starts to warm up the car to its ideal operating temps, Marcello tells me that “Even though it weighs 1600kg, the Bora drives very well on all types of roads and responds precisely to the driver’s inputs,” and then his speech becomes more technical as he points at the rev counter, saying “At 6000rpm this Aflieri eight-cylinder develops 310 horsepower, about twenty horsepower more than the engines installed on the Indy, Mexico, and Ghibli. This improvement was achieved with modifications to the intake ducts and camshafts. The maximum torque remained the same, however.”
Although it’s a quite big car, it seems very fast on its feet, and with a stated drag coefficient of 0.255 and a front section of just 1.66 square meters, the Bora can keep hauling along until it reaches 270 km/h (or so it is said, this speed being declared at the time by the project lead, Giulio Alfieri). We do not get to 270 on our trip of course, but I have no doubts about the haleness of this powertrain. What I can say for certain is that the brakes work very well, and if you notice a thing like that it’s probably not because you’ve been driving around at five under the limit!
This Bora is what you’d probably call a survivor at this point, as it has just 75,000km on the odometer. It has been in the Candini family since 2015, and before arriving in Modena it belonged to a doctor from Pescara where the car was originally delivered and registered. The car still has its original plate, and although it has been repainted in its original metallic hue, it has always been carefully maintained and requires no major restoration work.
I know Marcello and his father love all the Maserati products (even the ‘80s and ‘90s stuff!). As he puts it, “I love them all, with all their qualities and peculiarities. I have no favorite, I put them all in first place in my ranking! For example, I particularly appreciate this Bora because it was the first road Maserati to have a rear mid-engine, and for the fact that it also was the first with four-wheel independent suspension. It’s a milestone car in that regard, and I also find that Giugiaro’s styling had reached its highest level with his Maserati work at the time. Even if I don’t feel like picking favorites, this Bora is definitely one of my favorites to drive sportingly. The Bora is aggressive, it has a unique style, and besides all that it’s simply fun to be in it, doing any kind of driving.”
Between the first 4.7- and 4.9-liter models and the American export specification cars, the Bora remained in the Maserati catalog until 1979, but when a second energy crisis hit the manufacturers of sports and luxury cars its time came to an end. But because of enthusiasts like Marcello’s family, their customers, and readers like you, it still lives on as an bastion of 1970s Italian sports car engineering and design.