Robbing Peter (Maserati) to Pay Paul (Chrysler), or: Attack of the Frankencar, Act 17

14 Jan

Take a bite out of this: Luxist claims that Fiat management is considering building a Maserati-branded SUV (good!), with a Ferrari engine (great!), in a Detroit plant used to assemble Jeep Cherokees and Dodge Durangos on a Mercedes-Benz M-class platform (wtf?!).

Yes, you heard me right. If Fiat/Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne has his way, in a few years you, too can pony-up $100,000+ to drive the New Frankencar!

Look: I doubt any Maserati (or GT) purist would ever be caught dead in a Ferrari-engined Maserati SUV – no matter how good the performance – as long as it’s assembled not only in Detroit, but on the same line as the cars the plebes drive, American bread & butter Dodge and Jeep. That being said, the Cayenne is not a pure-bred Porsche. The Range Rover is not a pure-bred Land Rover. Even Bentleys and Lamborghinis are not totally pure-bred these days; the economics of the auto industry (along with the internal politics, management’s egos, etc) simply make it virtually impossible, short of a Bugatti Veyron (itself not 100% bespoke, as Bugatti is owned by Volkswagen Group).

Could this new Frankencar Maserati/Ferrari/Mercedes/Dodge/Jeep SUV become a reality?  Sadly, yes.  Perhaps not exactly as imagined today, but platform and technology sharing is the reality of the modern auto industry.  Hell, if BMW can build cars in South Carolina, why can’t Maserati (Fiat) assemble cars in Detroit, god knows the city needs all the help it can get!

Lastly, this brings up a question automotive enthusiasts have been debating (or rather repressing) for years if not decades: What makes an Italian Grand Touring car an “Italian Grand Touring” car?  Designed in Italy? Engine built in Italy? Everything built and Assembled in Italy?  What?

I’m not sure where I stand on this topic but considering trends we’ve seen in the global auto industry the past 20-30+ years that show no signs of abating, I think its unrealistic to expect your expensive “hand made” Italian automobile will have all of its parts designed, built, and assembled in Italy.  It’s just not realistic anymore, unless you have a bank account and patience like James Glickenhaus, who can afford to have Pininfarina hand-build cars like this:

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