The company was founded by Alfieri Maserati, one of seven Maserati brothers, all but one of whom were involved in the development of cars. The seventh brother, Mario, is believed to have devised the company emblem. Alfieri Maserati died in 1932 but three other brothers, Bindo, Ernesto and Ettore, kept the firm going, and winning races.
In 1937 the remaining Maserati brothers sold their shares in the company to the Orsi family, who in 1940 relocated the company headquarters to their hometown of Modena, where it remains to this day. The brothers continued in engineering roles with the company, however. Racing successes continued, even against the giants of German racing, Auto Union and Mercedes. In 1940 a Maserati won the Indianapolis 500, a feat repeated the following year.
The war then intervened, Maserati abandoning cars to produce components for the Italian war effort.
Once peace was restored, Maserati returned to making cars, doing well in the postwar racing scene also. The famous driver Juan-Manuel Fangio raced for Maserati for a number of years in the 1950s, producing a number of stunning victories including winning the world championship in 1957. After that, Maserati retired from factory racing participation, though it built racing cars to be raced by others after that date.
In 1968 came a great change -- purchase by CitroŽn. Adolfo Orsi remained the nominal president, but Maserati changed a great deal. New models were launched, and built in much greater numbers than hitherto. CitroŽn borrowed Maserati expertise and engines for the CitroŽn SM and other vehicles, and Maseratis incorporated CitroŽn technology also, particularly in hydraulics.
New models included the Maserati Bora, the first mass-produced mid-engined Maserati, in 1971, and the Maserati Merak and Maserati Khamsin soon afterwards. The 1970s oil crises, however, put the brakes on this ambitious expansion - suddenly, the demand for fuel-thirsty sports cars shrank. On May 23, 1973, CitroŽn declared that Maserati was in liquidation. Propped up by Italian government funds, the company stayed alive, if barely.
1975 saw the company back on its feet with investment from the Binelli company, and Alejandro De Tomaso, an Argentinian former racing driver, became the managing director. New models were introduced in 1976, including the Maserati Kyalami and the Maserati Quattroporte III.
The 1980s saw the company largely abandoning the mid-engined sports car in favor of squarish, front-engined rear drive coupes, cheaper than before but with aggressive performance, like the Maserati Biturbo.
Fiat sold a 50% share in Maserati to its long-time arch-rival Ferrari in 1997; in 1999, Ferrari took full control. A new factory was built, replacing the 1940s vintage older factory. Maseratis are again being sold in the lucrative United States market, and the company has also re-entered the racing arena.