While Maserati had a fantastic history of creating some of the finest luxurious and beautiful performance cars, we have Citroen to thank for the beautiful Bora. To ensure continued growth and future success, the innovative French company took a controlling interest in Maserati in 1968, and with this new injection of cash along came a decision to launch a new two-seater mid-engined sports car.
Maserati took the Bora to the Geneva motor show in 1971, and it was undoubtedly the star of the show. With a 4.7-litre development of the Ghibli’s V8 engine mounted behind the front seats, the Bora followed other manufacturers into the era of the mid-engined supercar, also creating what is arguably one of the most gorgeous cars to come out of the 1970s.
Producing a healthy 310bhp @ 6000rpm, the Bora transmitted its power to the road through a five-speed ZF gearbox, pushing the Giorgetto Giugiaro-penned coupe to a top speed of 170mph.
By the end of 1971 the new Bora was flying out of showrooms, and thanks to effective new suspension layouts, as well as an advanced (albeit controversial) Citroen-derived steering and brake set-up, this is the car that finally helped shed Maserati’s outdated image.
While the coupe body was designed to be stunning above all else – with a striking stainless steel roof section and large glass rear cover – it was actually a practical and surprisingly comfortable GT, with a decent-sized luggage compartment in the front end and a carpeted engine cover. To help find the perfect driving position, Maserati fitted an adjustable pedal box, making use of Citroen hydraulics to power the sliding mechanism.
It remains a sought after collector's car today, and while it might not carry the huge prices of an equivalent Ferrari, the eclectic mix of Italian and French engineering makes a very desirable machine.
Which one to buy?
All cars came equipped with a five–speed ZF gearbox and there was only one body style, the two-door coupe. The Bora was left pretty much unchanged throughout its production run, save for some modifications that were required for it to be sold in the US market and an engine upgrade across the whole range in 1975 it received only minor styling updates.
US-spec cars came with a variety of safety compliant bumper designs, but a lot of these cars have been converted back to European specification bumpers over time. All American-spec cars came with a 4.9 litre engine derived from the Ghibli as it had been homologated for US smog emission requirements. European models had the 4.7 litre engine until 1975, after which all Bora models were equipped with the larger engine. In reality, there’s not a huge difference between the two engines, and you should buy on condition rather than spec.
One of the key things to look out for on these cars is the Citroen hydraulic system that powers the pedal box and braking system. It is a reliable system if properly serviced – being used on millions of Citroens, as well as a few Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and even JCBs, however it can cause some serious headaches if improperly maintained. The ‘common issues’ section below outlines what to look for when purchasing one of these cars.
Performance and specs
Maserati Bora 4.7
Engine 4719cc 16valve DOHC V8
Power 306bhp @ 6000 rpm
Torque 339lb ft @ 4200rpm
Top speed 170mph
0-60mph 6.5 seconds
Fuel consumption 14.5 mpg
Gearbox five-speed manual
Dimensions and weight
• Spares and parts for the Bora are available from various sources, including car clubs, specialists as well as Maserati themselves through the Classiche program. Trim and interior other less popular items require a bit of digging but with the prices of Boras steadily on the rise most cars have been maintained correctly to maintain their values.
• The hydraulically adjustable pedal box and braking system was advanced for its time, but a lack of understanding means that this complex system has come in for its fair share of criticism over the years. Some preventative maintenance as outlined below can help keep the hydraulics working correctly.
• The two brake accumulators require refilling with nitrogen every ten years or they will stop working and eventually fail. Request evidence of this having been done even if the hydraulic system is working properly. Accumulators can be rebuilt, but should be left to specialists.
• Standard Brake fluid, as well as other similar oils damage the hydraulic system. Many US cars suffer from the use of ATF, which while very similar, is unsuitable due to the additives in the fluid that attack the rubber seals. Only the correct LHM fluid should be used, so make sure that there is evidence of the correct fluid being used in the maintenance logs. Quiz the owner on knowledge of the fluid to be sure.
• The Bora is of an all-steel construction and rust can occur in various areas. Other than the usual wheel arches and door frames, check the storage compartment behind the driver’s seat and underneath the aluminium panel in the front storage compartment. The engine cover is a very tight fit and can expose badly repaired accident damage. The stainless steel roof can also be difficult to repair. Check the alignment of body panels if the car has been subject to restoration.
• The engine tends to run hot and the cooling system should be well maintained to avoid overheating or head gasket issues.
1971: Maserati Bora launched with 4.7-litre engine
1973: 4.9-litre engine from Maserati Ghibli used in US spec models due to emission requirements
1974: Front boot lid hinge changed from front to rear. Minor changes to pop-up headlights, while US spec cars received a number of changes to meet safety requirements
1975: New 4.9-litre engine with 320bhp replaces all previous engine options.
1978: Final Bora is sold, totalling a production run of 530 units.
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.themaseraticlub.com – International Maserati owners club
• ferrarichat.com/forum/maserati – Maserati section of this large Ferrari community contains valuable information from owners, and is a great place if you’re seeking advice
• www.maseraticlub.co.uk – Enthusiast and owners club for Maseratis old and new
• www.mcgrathmaserati.co.uk – Specialist based in Hertfordshire
Summary and prices
The majority of Boras with solid service histories are to be found between the £120,000-£200,000 mark. They have been steadily increasing in value, and most have been well cared for, although there are still some out there with patchy maintenance histories. As these cars require regular servicing and specialist attention to some of the more complex systems, it’s important to check for a documented maintenance history.
The Maserati Bora combined super car performance and touring car comfort in a way that the competition couldn’t match. It’s still a fast and comfortable car today, and makes for an equally great companion on a long distance cruise or down your favourite piece of challenging road. Get one with a good service history and the Bora is a great way to enjoy classic Maserati motoring.
Words: John Tallodi