Time to buy? Maserati Bora
Just over 50 years ago Maserati, then in Citroën ownership, launched the Bora, a 160mph mid-engined supercar. After the inevitable spike in values 2013-2015, the model has resumed its place as the great underappreciated Italian exotic. Too Citroën? Or simply another low-key Maserati with all the woe but without the wow! of a Miura? We asked the experts.
“In the right hands, researched and appreciated for what it's really worth I believe that the Bora has great potential,” says Marcello Candini, the famous Modenese Maserati restoration specialist. Andy Heywood of McGrath Maserati in the UK agrees: “Boras are good long-distance tourers that are less frenetic to drive than similar Italian cars. A well-prepared Bora should not let you down.
“It’s the old Maserati problem of perception: these are subtle cars that don’t grab attention, the reason why they appealed to a sort of Italian ‘old money’ when new.” Candini puts it another way, quoting veteran journalist Paul Frère: “A Maserati is a true aristocrat who dresses elegantly but discreetly and does not reveal to the world all it can do more than is strictly necessary."
So how about the shared components with Citroën, the brakes, the seats and the moving pedals?
“The Citroën braking system is not highly appreciated by those who do not know it,” says Candini. “The pedals and the driver’s seat are adjusted hydraulically. It is a typical thing of this model. In addition, the covered headlamps are operated by the high-pressure hydraulic system.” He adds that “the car is beautiful to drive. It is a typical sporty and comfortable Maserati in the true spirit of the Trident.”
Heywood concurs. “I would say these are peculiarities, nothing more, and the seats are always leather, similar to a Citroën SM's, and comfortable. The big V8 is tried and tested, a reliable and unstressed powerplant that’s been used for years.”
Speaking of the engine, 4.7 or 4.9? Production figures are split roughly equally between the two, with slightly more 4.7s.
“The US versions, even though they have 4.9-litre engines, are less powerful than the European 4.7s due to the emissions equipment required in North America. Driving a 280-300bhp Bora is a pleasure; you can hear your companion’s voice, as well as the roar of the V8.” That’s Candini’s view. For bragging rights, a European 4.9 is the one to have, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference in real world driving.
Heywood also draws attention to the US-spec impact bumpers, which also disfigured the Countach and many other expensive European cars. Even Bobby Ewing had to endure a Mercedes 450 SL with extra iron and rubberwork. “They are very unattractive, and the ride height is out as well – it’s not an easy fix. And of course, the engine’s not producing the power. In theory, you could start with a US car and restore it totally to European but there are some fundamental differences, which make it uneconomic.”
Candini has words of warning, too: “Maserati Classiche will not approve a converted US car.”
So what about ‘that roof’? We’ve seen some horrible examples of the famous brushed stainless-steel panel in auction tents over the years. Like the rollover hoop of 1980s Porsche 911 Targa, one scratch and it’s ruined.
“You can restore them. They are screwed in and can be removed,” says Heywood. Candini is less optimistic: “The satin stainless-steel roof is a typical and unique feature that distinguishes this model, unfortunately if damaged it is always quite difficult to restore totally like new.”
And how much would a typical Bora restoration cost?
For a full restoration of a complete and OK car (not a terminal ‘barn find’) in the UK, Heywood would quote around £250k. That’s the same sort of money that gets your Ghibli or Mistral coupé the full treatment. When values today for an excellent European Bora are around £260k, you can see how the saying ‘let someone else pay for the work, always buy a restored car’ came about.
But there are cars in restoration in the UK and Italy, for passionate fans of the marque and model who have often had them in family ownership from new. Candini is handling one for a Parisian client. The original colours are appealing. You are far less likely to find car after car in ‘resale red’: Rosso Rubino is attractive, as is gold and the typical metallic browns of the 1970s. Compared with the Dino and Countach, though, it’s less flashy, a car bought new by an older, more sober client. The interiors were always leather, for example, never velour. Right-hand drive is rare – only 44 UK cars.
Wouldn’t it be easier to just get a Merak? They look similar.
“The Merak is seen as a prettier car,” says Heywood. And can be bought for less than half the price. Candini has strong opinions: “For me the comparison Merak-Bora does not exist; they are two different things even if they come, on a stylistic level, from the same family. I'll list some differences: V8 versus V6; around 520 Boras compared with at least 1800 Meraks; 380-300bhp against the Merak's 200bhp.
“So I cannot agree with the concept that paying half for a Merak you get almost the same thing as a Bora. The ‘same’ is only the shape of the nose!!”
In the K500 guide Simon summarises the model, ending with “Its day will come.” Maybe that time isn’t just yet, and despite the Trident’s magnificent racing record it, like Lamborghini with any of its earlier cars, never competed with the Bora outside an oddball French entry in 1973. Perhaps that’s a factor. Marcello Candini sums it up:
“If the Bora had participated at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as it should have, now we would talk about something else entirely, but unfortunately it did not go that way!”
Click here for further information on the Maserati Bora in the K500 guide.
See candinimodena.net and mcgrathmaserati.co.uk
Photos by Maserati