The luxury super-saloon is nowadays considered a must-have model for the majority of prestige manufacturers. But the legendary designer Giorgetto Giugiaro was working hard on perfecting a car that combined performance and luxury with four-door practicality back in the mid-70s.
In 1974, the tireless Giugiaro – fresh from penning Maseratis Ghibli, Bora and Merak – began a project to design a four-door Maserati that combined the luxury of an American limousine with abundant power – the latter being notably absent in the 207bhp Quattroporte II of the same year. The philosophy of Giugiaro’s car was expounded in its name, ‘Medici’: inspired by the celebrated Florence family that had risen to fame in the 14th Century, through an unequivocal business aptitude and a love of culture and arts.
The Medici sat on an existing Maserati chassis, and boasted a longitudinally mounted 5.0-litre V8 in lieu of the underwhelming 3.0-litre V6 used in the Quattroporte II. Inside, the car had seating for six – with four ‘living-room’ style chairs facing each other, giving the velour-lined interior an atmosphere reminiscent of a limousine, just as the design brief had specified. Giugiaro sought a ‘balanced and elegant’ shape for the body of the car, taking cues from some of his previous work such as the Audi Asso Di Picche concept (with a design language that was also evident in the later B2 Audi Coupé – you may see some resemblance).
However, the final outcome bore a bonnet that was too streamlined for the roofline, therefore resulting in an oddly proportioned car – extremely un-Giugiaro-like, considering that his catalogue raisonné includes the De Tomaso Mangusta, Iso Grifo and BMW M1. Like many geniuses, Giugiaro is extremely self-critical, and even official documentation from the Italdesign styling house he formed in 1968 accepts the disappointments of the Medici’s styling.
Nevertheless, another trait of artistic genius is persistence, which Giugiaro duly displayed in the years to come. Indeed, he brought the regrettable Maserati back into his workshop and set about creating the Medici II, ‘cutting and stitching’ the metalwork to correct the anomalous proportions of the 1974 Turin Motor Show car.