One of the best parts of keeping tabs on old cars for a living is the immense variety of weird stuff you encounter: Dymaxions, Isettas, Amphicars, Cybertrucks, Oldsmobile Jetway 707s, just about every Citroën ever. In addition to hosting the usual gaggle of Detroit muscle or red cars from Italy, collector car auctions are often excellent repositories for the wild and wonderful of the automotive world, and Artcurial’s upcoming Rétromobile sale in Paris does not disappoint.
The car left the factory in July ’67 as a regular old Quattroporte, a four-door luxury sedan finished in Argento Auteuil (silver) with Girling disc brakes, a 4.2-litre 260bhp V8 up front, and a black leather interior. An accident ended its days of executive transportation, and in 1972, Italian fire suppression company CEA Estintori purchased the car along with four others (AM1071296, 2184, 2210, and 2290), then brought them to Carrozzeria Grazia in Bologna for transformation into “the world’s fastest fire tenders.” They were used throughout the ’70s as emergency vehicles at Italian race tracks, including Monza, Imola, and Varano.
We’ve written plenty here in the past on the great Italian coachbuilders of that era – Pininfarina, Zagato, Touring, Bertone, Frua – but nary a word on Grazia, likely because their specialty was promotional vehicles, emergency vehicles, and hearses, and we’ve just never gotten around to that big feature on the Grazia-bodied Ebano shoe-mobile …
For CEA, Grazia worked its magic by transforming this and the other Masers into pickup trucks by removing the rear doors (Dueporte?) and converting the entire space behind the front seats into a platform, upon which fire suppression equipment – a big red water tank, a pump, a water cannon, various hose reels, maybe a dalmatian – was mounted. The auction catalogue notes that the internal compartment, with its sporty ZF five-speed manual transmission, “was closed behind both front seats and benefited from the luxury specific to the Quattroporte, including air conditioning.”
The catalogue further states that the cars earned great publicity for CEA, “and until the end of the 1970s, they were used as guardian angels on the greatest Italian circuits.” There seems to be a great deal of misinformation out there about them (like that dalmatian bit above…), but the Quattroporte registry site Tipo107.com notes that this car and its fire truck friends changed hands a few times in the late 1980s.
This one was then offered for sale by Swiss dealer Christoph Grohe in the early 2000s. In 2011, a German collector purchased it from a dealer in Marseille and began an extensive restoration to return the car to original specs (of its firefighting life, not its stately sedan life), with paint and interior work done at the old Maserati factory in Modena, just before the company moved to Turin. The work was completed in 2017, and in December 2018 it was listed for sale – but never changed hands – at $442,500. In that regard, Artcurial’s estimate kind of makes the car seem like a bargain.
“It’s hard to think of a better trackside accessory for vintage racing than this thing,” says Hagerty senior auction editor Andrew Newton. “Even better that it’s a Maserati, which wears the trident of a water god on its nose.”
Quattroportes of this era are rare in any configuration or condition with just 763 built, so these fire trucks are on a different level of rarity. But for the Maserati fan who has everything, or the fire apparatus enthusiast who’s looking to downsize, or indeed the vintage racer who takes fire safety to the next level, this rare, fast, meticulously restored Quattroporte might be just the thing.