Only the short-sighted have ever underestimated Maserati.
One man named Enzo found the Trident such a threat that he spent more than a few years trying to bury his cross-town rival in the 1960s and 1970s.
Over Maserati's supernaturally-blessed, but tumultuous, 100-year history so far: the Trident has adorned many far-flung concepts and racers that were each at least 20 years ahead of their time.
In an era when Ferrari and Lamborghini were bringing key auto design functions back in-house, the wildest cards in Italy frequently found an eager audience with Maserati.
It is that caveat we all must remember before making a real judgement call on the latest Maserati out the gates: the Alfieri concept.
This Alfieri name is Maserati's origin story. The original name of the first Modenese racing powerhouse? Alfieri Maserati.
The Alfieri was quietly dropped soon into the 1920s, however, as Alfa-Romeo became a serious rival on the world's racetracks.
But now one big family: the Alfieri name is back in force. Confusion with affordable Alfa's these days? Not likely.
Especially since Alfa-Romeo's also-glorious, also near-100-year racing history is firmly in the basement archives (for the time being).
So, like all great companies, Maserati is Windexing the motor oil and brake dust from its priceless crystal ball.
The Alfieri shows Maserati looking deep into the future of desirable exotic cars -- and finding this swoopy shape staring back through the looking glass.
Curves might seem as desirable as an '86 Taurus in the face of the latest Skoda VisionC concept, but there is a real artform to a car with flowing, almost surreal panels like these.
See the Toyota FT-1 'Supra' Concept for another example of this futuristic take on aero-sculpted curves.
They are magic on the move -- changing lighting effects and impact with every different shadow and angle.
Curving surfaces, believe it or not, are also a design style that computer-aided design cannot really address without existing clay-model expertise.
They are simply too complicated to envision in 2D form, and too difficult to make functional for aerodynamics and production panel stamps.
What does this Alfieri bring to the table? A huge swath of new and exciting ideas for both the next GranCabrio and GT.
On second analysis, this car seems to be a two-seater itself -- but, in fact, houses a pair of small perches in back to make it a 2+2.
A cab-back style mounts these twin thrones right at the rear bulkhead, just below the fastback's bubble glass and roof pillar curvatures.
A super-premium flagship like this will help Maserati from losing its current status among Ferrari aspirants while also going downmarket via the Ghibli and Quattroporte.
So, is this the new Maserati GT? That car is expected next year or perhaps in 2016. Will these shapes make it to U.S. Maserati showrooms?
My hunch is: Oh yes. And No.
Yes: this car is coming. Look at this interior. It is nearly finished.
No: But not as the next GT. Likely positioned (priced) above the GranTurismo if we were betting men.
While many of Maserati's more experimental concepts hit the financial crusher of the 1970s supercar recession -- this roaring Trident must move forward to stay alive.
With a name tracing its links to the company's origin like the Enzo Ferrari, some high-up individuals within the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group seem to agree.
But: Is the Alfieri Maserati beautiful? I certainly did not think so at first glance, but am warming up to it quite a bit after reviewing it in further detail.
I love its detailing and the design ideas behind the car, if not the car itself (quite yet.)
My hunch is that I am not alone in first-glance revulsion: most of the press photos are tilted 20-degrees -- which is (usually) a tell-tale sign that the PR folks worry a car might be... unattractive.
Editor's Summary: In a final note, this might be the first photo we've seen of Sergio Marchionne smiling in ... perhaps four years. Hopefully more reason to smile than bulk-purchased Zegna cashmere crew-necks this time....=]
Regardless, it is encouraging to see from this strong-minded CEO. Big challenges ahead for FCA, but strong leadership by example is always the best quality any CEO can embody.
What is Sergio saying here to Luca? Our dark imagination says...
"Do you know some crazy auto writer @tommy_burkart tweeted me directly to say only, "RETIRE" in all caps last month?
Sorry Mr. Marchionne.
So, why did I tweet that to this powerful executive?
Leadership by example is lacking in Auburn Hills almost completely these days, with strong-arm, goon-squad amateurs running the business with a willful disregard for stakeholders -- and, more accurately it seems some times, a total lack of business acumen altogether.
You can be sure the Maserati Alfieri GT will not be a price-cut-special, 24-month lease with an offer to pay off up to $8,500 in credit card debt just to move old metal.
Is it just Chrysler brands? Nope. My second-most-recent Maserati dealer visit included 15 minutes of total isolation before I finally yelled, "Does Anybody Work Here?"
Discounts do not sell exotic cars; but rather, their merits alone. Maserati clearly has no shortage of these in its racing toolbox with the new Alfieri GT -- it is time to get all these greatest-hits out of storage.