The Maserati Chubasco was a prototype mid-engine two-seater sports car first unveiled in 1990 at the annual Maserati festivities in Modena.
Maserati Chubasco Introduction
The Maserati Chubasco was named after violent Central and South American storms, and hoped to bring a rush of energy back to the brand. It marked an attempt from Maserati to shed away from more affordable mass-production cars, like the popular Biturbo, and back into the supercar realm it once was firmly part of. While the Biturbo sold well, the Maserati name wasn’t known for ultra-exclusive supercars anymore. Alessandro de Tomaso, who acquired Maserati in 1975 with the help of substantial government assistance, had led the company down a path of more economically viable vehicles, which tarnished the brand’s supercar hopes. The Maserati Chubasco was unveiled to the press alongside the new Maserati Shamal and the Maserati Racing. But the Chubasco was to take center stage, fulfilling the dreams of supercar lovers everywhere with the most advance technology available at the time.
The design was created by Marcello Gandini, who was the name behind various Lamborghinis and earlier Maserati models. He brought the scissor doors to the Chubasco design, along with an electric hard top which slid back to open the cockpit to the sky. He also focused on providing a maximum aerodynamics. Three main front intakes were used to cool the engine, heat-exchangers, and various radiators, while also aiding in overall airflow and drag reduction. The five-spoke wheels were covered in paint-matched aero discs, providing a unique look. The overall result proved to be sleek and refined, without going overboard in aggressive angular designs sometimes found in the supercar world. It had presence without being forceful, providing a touch of understated class to the throttle-first mid-engine market. Even the interior was a bit roomier and more comfortable than rivals, both in length and width. The seats were separated by a large center console, which hid the majority of the vehicle’s frame while also being appealing to the eye.
Engine Specifications and Features
The Maserati Chubasco used a 3.2L 32-valve V8 before seen in the Shamal. It featured twin-turbos, had dual overhead camshafts, and used a dry-sump design. It was capable of producing a quite respectable 430 bhp at 6,500 RPM. A 6-speed manual gearbox featured a twin-plate clutch and was paired with a limited-slip differential. The spine chassis found in F1 competition vehicles was used in the Maseratir Chubasco. It had a central aluminum honeycomb backbone, with an integrated fuel tank, and ribbed light-alloy subframes extended to support the suspension and engine. Push-rod spring/damper units were used in the front suspension, while the rear used a pull-rod type. The challenging chassis design led to unequal length wishbones to meet all four wheels. Like the previous mid-engine Maserati, the engine was attached to the chassis through dampers to decrease the engine vibration in the cockpit. Additional insulation helped reduce the passenger compartment engine noise as well.
Production Plans Scrapped
It was very well received and had a planned production of 450 units as a lower-priced and slightly more-practical rival to the Lamborghini Diablo and Ferrari Testarossa. But unfortunately, the Maserati Chubasco was cancelled before production began. Fiat had acquired 50% of Maserati in early 1990, and due to serious financial constraints, they vetoed the project citing unattainable expenses within the project. The chassis did live on in future Maseratis and the prototype can be found in the Panini Museum on the outskirts of Modena. The Barchetta, a rare vehicle made primarily for race purposes, utilized the same chassis design in the future, although only one street-legal Barchetta was produced.