The Maserati Bora was a two-door, mid-engine sports car available from 1971 to 1978. Following the naming convention used for Maserati’s of the period based on winds, it is named after the Bora wind of Trieste. 564 Boras were produced in total. 275 featured a 4.9L engine while 289 had a 4.7L engine.
Maserati Bora Mid-Engine Design
The idea of a mid-engine sports car was already completed by Lamborghini and De Tomason, while Ferrari was developing their own contender. Maserati knew that if it wanted to stay competitive in the Italian supercar market, it needed to follow suit. The Bora, internally known as Tipo 117 at Maserati, began design in 1968 in conjunction with Giorgetto Giugiaro’s ItalDesign agency. Their aim was to create a Maserati look that maintained a sportiness, but wasn’t obtrusively aggressive. It was eventually unveiled to the public in its production form at the 1971 Geneva Salon. There were many improvements brought forward in the Bora design, both for Maserati and in comparison to other mid-engine rivals. Maserati was able to escape its out-of-date technology with the mid-engine design paired with four-wheel independent suspension that had been used in Lamborghini’s for over five years.
But Maserati didn’t stop there. They also made the Bora slightly more practical. Unlike others with a prominent engine noise filling the cabin, the Bora insulated the engine with a carpeted aluminum cap and placed a dual-pane glass separator between it and the passenger compartment. Additionally, through the use of technologically-advanced hydraulic pedal cluster and a tilting/telescoping steering wheel, it avoided the usual pitfalls from other supercars at the time: the tight driver seat making entering and exiting a tedious affair. A larger trunk space, power windows, and air conditioning filled out the list of features that allowed the Bora to be a car that one actually wouldn’t mind driving on a daily basis.
Engine Specifications and Features
Two longitudinally-positioned engines were initially offered in the Maserati Bora, a 4.7L (288 cu in) and a beefier 4.9L option. The 4.9L engine, originally designed to comply with US regulations, ended up being the sole option down the road. The engine had four Weber carburetors and produced around 330 horsepower with a 0 to 60 mph time of less than 7 seconds. Top speed estimates were at least 170 mph and up to 178 mph. The 5-speed ZP transaxle helped get the power to the pavement. It used a steel body on a tubular steel subframe attached to a monocoque chassis. The engine mounts were flexible, allowing for less vibrations and improved ride comfort, another practical touch from Maserati. A brushed stainless-steel roof shows off the roots of what lays under the paint.
Unfortunately, the acquisition of Maserati by De Tomaso in 1975, combined with the 1973 energy crisis and ongoing demand changes for more eco-friendly vehicles, put the Bora under significant strain. While there were reported discussions of using the Bora for Group 4 racing, with an ultra-powerful 430 horsepower version of the Bora created, the rules require 500 cars produced in that specification. Yet the Maserati Bora could hardly achieve that in the standard model, causing these dreams to become extinguished. Some see the Maserati Bora as a sad tale. After Maserati finally entered the mid-engine supercar market, showing off its ability to utilize hydraulic power to obtain creature comforts that were nonexistent in rivals, plus a wide variety of more practical considerations, it was hit with complete hardship. Recent auction estimates place the Bora in the $180,000 to $200,000 range, simply not in the same category as other Italian powerhouses from the same era. One must wonder what could have been if Maserati was able to put the pen to paper years earlier. Or if it didn’t happen to coincide with a rough acquisition and global energy woes.