Maserati's surprise at the Geneva Motor Show 2001

My thanks Sig. Aurelio Sportelli of Sparco for granting me permission to use these images.

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The Maserati concept-car project known as the 320S was developed with the technical collaboration of Sparco and the styling by Italdesign Giugiaro and embodies various themes that will feature heavily in the future of the Marque.

One of the most important of these regards the development of racing cars for single-marque customer races, with respect to which the 320S aims to propose new ideas for the future, while being inspired by the tradition of the Maserati racing cars of the past.
The 320S also heralds Maserati's return to the United States, a market where the Marque will soon be present, and where it enjoyed a great racing past, a fact underlined by the car's light blue and white livery, in the tradition of the Maseratis that raced and won in the U.S.A. in the past.
And finally, the 320S, although it is still in the concept stage, offers a preview of the future Maserati Spider, with its open body and wheelbase that is shorter than that of the 3200 GT Coupé.

From a stylistic viewpoint, the 320S, which is the result of meticulous development by Fabrizio Giugiaro at Italdesign Giugiaro, stands out in particular for the design of the upper part of the body, which has a 'barchetta' type solution, with a small winscreen limited to the area in front of the driver, and a visible roll-over bar with aerodynamic fairing in the rear.
The passenger side is closed and faired, without a seat. These styling features, plus the single central rearview mirror, echo the best Maserati sports cars of the past, models like the 200, the 300S, the 450S and in particular the Tipo 60/61 'Birdcage'.

We have already mentioned that the wheelbase is shorter than that of the Coupé (by about 220 mm), measuring 2440 mm, and this too will be a distinctive feature of the styling of the future Maserati Spider.
Other characteristic elements of the bodywork are, in the lower part, some modifications to the aerodynamic profiles, particularly on a level with the wing on the rear bumper, which is lower down and fitted with a supplementary nolder to increase the vertical load to the rear.

Where the engineering is concerned, this is borrowed from the 3200 GT Coupé (90° V8 turbo engine, with a capacity of 3.2-litres and a power output of 370 bhp at 6,250 rpm), combined with a manual mechanical gearbox, offering 6 speeds and reverse.

In view of the car's intended use on the racing circuit, significant changes were made to the braking system (with the adoption of racing brakes, 355x32 mm discs at the front, and 310x28 mm discs at the rear), to the suspension (special, stiffer springs, ground-hugging trim and adjustable racing dampers), and to the wheels, which are mounted at the limits of the wheel housings (9.5x18 at the front and 10.5x18 at the rear), with Michelin slick tyres.

The safety features were developed by Sparco and include an arc roll-over bar (with door diagonals and protection of the steering wheel area), rapid petrol filler cap on both sides, an automatic fire extinguisher system that meets FIA 2001 specifications and a battery cut-out switch, plus the racing seat made of composite materials and the 6-point seat harness. The cab interior designed with racing in mind, and is therefore extremely essential: all the panelling of the production coupé was removed as well as the climate control system and all the controls and components that are not necessary on the race track. The outfit is completed by digital instrumentation, Sparco racing steering wheel and pedals, starter button and racing switches.

The kerb weight, (excluding petrol) of the 320S is approximately 1,300 kg.

This watercolour by Andy Danks captures Stirling Moss driving the Team Camoradi Tipo 61 'Birdcage' to victory at the Cuban Grand Prix in 1960

Fabrizio Giugiaro in the Maserati 320S at the Variano de'Melegari circuit
Photo courtesy of of Italdesign-Giugiaro.

Maserati's partners in the 320S project are:

Italdesign Giugiaro: designed and built the Maserati Concept car 320S. The starting point of this one-off project was the 3200 GT Coupé which was designed by the same hand - Giorgetto Giugiaro - and launched in the second half of 1998.

Sparco: when fitting out the new 320S concept car, Maserati turned to Sparco, one of the world's leading companies specialising in technical and safety equipment - including seats, helmets, steering wheels, fire-proof racing suits and fire extinguisher systems - in the motor sports field, with lengthy experience in thje field of Formula 1, the World Rally Championship and the CART and NASCAR Championships in the USA. An Italian company, Sparco is based in Borgaro near Turin.

Michelin: for the past three years, Maserati's official tyre supplier has collaborated with the company's Master Gt driving courses for clients at the Variano de' Melegari track. The Concept-car 320S is fitted with Michelin racing slicks: 24/64 R18 front: 27/68 R18 rear.

A foreign tribute stamp issued by Kalmykia (a small Russian Republic) with a stunning image of the 320S.
This stamp measures 1 ¼" x 1 ½".

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