Maserati Medici II (Italdesign) (1976)
Maserati Medici II is a luxury sedan hatchback for the high-end market and a development of the Medici I, which debuted at the Turin Motor Show in 1974.
The Medici II is better proportioned than the Medici I.
The first version’s nose allows for more harmonious development and is highlighted by two huge rectangular headlights (rather than hidden) and the use of a real radiator grille.
The interiors have been completely redesigned, with the two backward-facing seats being replaced by two genuine chairs separated by a broad armrest in place of the rear sofa.
Behind the front seatback are two cabinets carrying usual limousine accouterments (bar, refrigerator, desk, file holder).
The car is outfitted with a television and a radiophone, both of which were considered “futuristic” for a car at the time.
Every premium manufacturer currently must have a luxury super-saloon in the model range. Back in the mid-1970s, though, famed designer Giorgetto Giugiaro was hard at work designing an automobile that blended performance and luxury with four-door practicality.
In 1974, Giugiaro, fresh from designing Maserati Ghibli, Bora, and Merak, embarked on a quest to create a four-door Maserati that combined the luxury of an American limousine with ample power – the latter being noticeably absent in the 207bhp Quattroporte II of the same year. The idea of Giugiaro’s car was encapsulated in its name, ‘Medici’: inspired by the famed Florence dynasty that rose to popularity in the 14th century, thanks to an unmistakable commercial acumen and a love of culture and arts.
Maserati Medici II was built on Maserati chassis and featured a longitudinally mounted 5.0-litre V8. The car had 6 seats inside, with four ‘living-room’ style velour-lined chairs facing each other. That gave the interior the atmosphere of a limousine. Giugiaro aimed for a ‘balanced and graceful’ shape for the car’s body, drawing inspiration from prior work such as the Audi Asso Di Picche concept (with a design language that was also visible in the later B2 Audi Coupé – you may notice some resemblance).
The final result, however, had a bonnet that was too sleek for the roofline, resulting in an awkwardly proportioned automobile – highly un-Giugiaro-like, given that his catalogue raisonné included the De Tomaso Mangusta, Iso Grifo, and BMW M1. Giugiaro, like many geniuses, is immensely self-critical, and even official material from the Italdesign styling business he founded in 1968 recognizes the Medici’s stylistic shortcomings.
Nonetheless, another characteristic of artistic talent is perseverance, which Giugiaro dutifully demonstrated in the years that followed. Indeed, he pulled the blighted Maserati back into his workshop and began work on the Medici II, ‘cutting and patching’ the metalwork to restore the car’s off-kilter proportions from the 1974 Turin Motor Show.
While the stubby-tailed, two-box silhouette was retained, the bonnet line was raised to better align with the perpendicular lines displayed elsewhere on the car, resulting in the pop-up headlights being replaced with more conventional rectangular ones, which were also integrated with a more conventional grille. While his changes effectively ended Giugiaro’s desire to project an athletic image, a more refined style was chosen and later embraced by the Piedmont-born designer.
The sophisticated look was also applied to the interior; the rearward-facing pair of seats were removed, but the limo-like atmosphere was maintained by two newly built cupboards housing a minibar, refrigerator, desk, and file-holder.
The back bench was changed with a pair of armchairs, and the velour upholstery was replaced with leather and briarwood, in line with the classical themes, while a TV and radiophone added touches of modernity. The car was reintroduced in Medici II form at the 1976 Paris Motor Show, where it received a positive welcome in contrast to its prior appearance in Turin.
The Medici II was moved to the Louwman Museum after the show, but not before giving several styling cues to the 1977 Turin Motor Show Quattroporte III concept car and its production version. The third Quattroporte was clearly more successful than its defective forefather, with one exemplar being put into presidential service: thereby validating its effectiveness.
The third Quattroporte was clearly more successful than its problematic forefather, with one example serving as a presidential limousine, confirming its ‘businessman’s Maserati’ position.
Despite its ungainly form, which first harmed Giugiaro’s portfolio, the reworked Medici is ultimately a rare glimpse into the determination of a talented character. The Medici II, which went on to influence one of the primary super-saloons, can possibly trace its offshoots not just to the present Quattroporte, but also to the Rapide, Panamera, and CLS with which its granddaughter competes. Meanwhile, its designer – who was rightfully named Car Designer of the Century in 1999 – may finally relax.
The original version of the Maserati Medici caused great criticism because of its tightness – the car was designed for six seats and the creators failed to provide a sufficient level of comfort for a car of its class. According to this, Giugiaro finalized the design, and in 1976, at the Paris Motor Show, the Maserati Medici II concept car was presented.
Medici cars did not go into the series, however, despite this, a number of design solutions were used to create other cars – “Maserati Quattroporte III” and “DeLorean DMC-12”.