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De Tomaso's most successful saloon was – a Maserati

In an effort to forget the unsuccessful Citroën era as quickly as possible and instead take up the mantle of the legendary 1960s Maserati Quattroporte, the then-new Maserati owner Alejandro de Tomaso plundered his own larder…

When Alejandro de Tomaso took over the reins of Maserati from Citroën in 1975, he was confident of the potential for a comfortable, high-performance saloon. He had already created such a car in the form of the De Tomaso Deauville, and believed that a new Maserati Quattroporte was the way to go for the beleaguered Trident. According to De Tomaso, the 1974 Quattroporte II, built on the extended chassis of a Citroën SM, was not right at all: the 3.0-litre V6 – a sad let-down after the powerful V8 of the first Quattroporte series – combined with front-wheel drive, left little room for sportiness. Alejandro was not impressed.

A Maserati born from the De Tomaso Deauville

De Tomaso let the Quattroporte second series die a quiet death, with only a handful made, and soon afterwards came up with the Quattroporte III – a development of the Maserati Kyalami, a coupé that was itself based on De Tomaso underpinnings. The third-generation Quattroporte used a modified De Tomaso Deauville chassis, and it was powered (through the rear wheels) by Maserati 4.2- and 4.9- litre V8 engines with up to 300HP. Meanwhile, the clean, sharp design of the new saloon came from the pen of Giorgetto Giugiaro.

Good things come in threes

The handling, performance and ride of the Quattroporte III convinced the pundits. If the Italian saloon had some weaknesses in the details, it was nevertheless extremely popular and the transport of choice for numerous celebrities, including the Italian President Alessandro ‘Sandro’ Pertini, the American publisher Malcolm Forbes and star tenor Luciano Pavarotti. With over 2,000 cars built, the Quattroporte III went down in history as one of the most successful models of Maserati ever created.

On 6 February 2015, Artcurial in Paris will offer the Maserati Quattroporte III in the attractive colour combination shown here. The car comes from the estate of the Moroccan King Hassan II and has covered 124,000km. The estimate is just 10,000 to 14,000 euros.

Photos: Rémi Dargegen for Artcurial

This article is part of the series 'Cars we Love', in which we bring you our favourite classics and modern classics, every Saturday morning.