Maserati Traction Avant

No wonder Citroën went bankrupt in the 1970s. Not only were they building some of the wackiest cars available to the public, but they bought Maserati and decided to have a go at building wacky supercars too.

Quattroporte II at Auto Italia

Even more bonkers than a Citroën SM - the Maserati Quattroporte II

Take the Maserati Quattroporte II as an example. The previous Quattroporte was pretty much the first super saloon. Capable of seating five adults yet transporting them at a constant 125mph (top speed was 140mph), the quirky Quattroporte managed to sell pretty well with 760 sold in an eight year production run. Power came from two sizes of iconic Maserati V8 equipped with four Weber carburettors. Not exactly a thrifty ol’ motor.

A neater, Frua-styled version was on the cards, but then Citroën took over – and they had some very advanced ideas. As if the Citroën SM wasn’t a big enough White Elephant, the Quattroporte II was, in hindsight, absolute madness. To create it, a lengthened SM platform was used, complete with front-mounted Maserati V6 and front-wheel drive. The full range of hydraulic suspension, steering and brakes were fitted and Bertone was commissioned to come up with a dramatic shape – complete with six headlamps behind a glass nosepanel – just like an SM – and triple windscreen wipers.

With only 190bhp, compared to at least 250bhp with the previous QP, performance suffered in this hugely weighty car. 125mph was perhaps just about possible, though only 13 were finally built. Citroën and Maserati both ended up in huge financial straits. Maserati was bought by De Tomaso – who quickly killed this extravagance – while Citroën fell into the arms of arch-rival Peugeot. It can’t really be considered in any way a success – but I’d still quite like one. Shame the only one for sale in the UK at the moment has a price tag of £124,999 – but then, where are you going to find another?

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