The Making of The Book

Writing the Family Silver:

Nigel Trow

I first saw Modena and Maserati in 1963, the year Philip Larkin thought sex began. It was September, after the heat of summer and with cold air in the mountains. My wife Kate and I went in our Aurelia B20, an alpine car that revelled in the old Grimsel and Furka passes, all tight bends and sudden sprints. The autostrada was less to its taste, the gearing too low. In those days there were no speed limits, and 5000rpm was tiring and noisy. Italians were good at getting out of the fast lane, though.

Modena was, and is, a lovely city. Maserati might have begun life in Bologna, but after 25 years its north western neighbour had become its spiritual home. The old factory was a most welcoming place. As I parked up passer-by in suit and tie clapped me on the shoulder and said “bella macchina”.

Maserati was a most civilised company - every engineer, mechanic and manager I met loved good cars. Guerino Bertocchi and Giulio Alfieri were open and helpful, and no one was cautious or cagey when asked about the company and its cars.

Years later, after writing extensively about Lancia I needed another subject. Italy is the country in which I feel most at ease and its cars, like its people, painting, architecture and food are a source of enduring pleasure. So it had to be Maserati.

In 2000 I went back to Modena and the viale Ciro Menotti for the first time in 27 years. Despite the turbulence and upheavals that had occurred since '63, very little seemed to have changed in the spirit of the place. The factory had been modernised, the fields behind it were long gone and vastly different cars were being built, yet the spirit remained. Ermanno Cozza, Maserati's archivist who had served his apprenticeship with the company was an indefatigable source of hard copy and anecdote; Adolfo Orsi of the second family to own the business opened up the whole of his enormous personal archive and proved the most generous conversationalist, host and correspondent. Journeying out from the hotel Canale Grande, owned by De Tomaso until his death in 2003, to Orsi's home or to the factory was to absorb the sense of place that still informs the Maserati marque. Later on I struck up other friendships, including Alfieri Maserati jnr., son of Ernesto Maserati; Modenese social historian, Nunzi Manicardi, author of La Maserati di Adolfo Orsi, Stanguellini, Il Mago di Motore and, Modena Capitale dei Motore and many more.

Designing the Family Silver

Stephen Paul Dale

The design approach to Maserati, the Family Silver was unusual in that I worked alongside its author, Nigel Trow, throughout the project. We had worked previously together on book design, but nothing on this scale. The philosophy of the book - that it was to be a serious history, not just a picture book of cars - was the first matter of agreement.

The ‘book to be read’ philosophy influenced the size of the book and at 215mm x 275mm; it can be easily held and read but allows for generous, appropriate illustration. For reasons of legibility the text was set in a distinctive, clear Caslon font in square blocks of justified 11point type. Originally one volume, the amount of text dictated a split into two volumes to give the book a generous, open feeling.

To avoid frequent interruption of the text by placing pictures on each page we decided to offer unbroken flows of text within ample white space and insert, as far as possible, appropriate and informative period photographs as whole and double pages. This added emphasis to the photographs themselves and enhanced the text as visual histories of Maseratis in time and place. The predominance of black and white photographs is a consequence of an early decision to only use original period pictures, which were only set within text pages when necessary.

Because of the density of text, generous margins were provided top, bottom and sides. This allowed space for page numbers, centred at the bottom of the page to balance a logotype that used at the top of each page throughout the book. The logo type of three lines in the shape of an ‘M’ for Maserati also echoed the firm's well known trident logo. It reminds the reader in a subtle way that the book is Maserati, the Family Silver without needing the title as a header on every page. This logo then became a ‘project’ logotype used on the website, posters, letterheads, banners etc.

The quality of the book was always of prime importance and attention to detail was paramount. Every graphical device, illustration, colour, typeface and photograph was only used after long consideration. Each photograph was scanned and then carefully and diligently retouched to remove most if not all scratches and blemishes. The contrast and brightness was adjusted to maintain as good a balance as possible. Graphic images were turned to black and white and then had a single colour applied to unify them throughout, simplifying and uncluttering the book to keep it crisp, clean and contemporary, whilst staying within the classic traditions of book design.

The Author

Nigel Trow has achieved international renown as one of the world’s foremost automobile historians. His books include: Lancia, the Shield and the Flag, Lancia Stratos and The Illustrated Lancia. Highly regarded by marque experts, his earlier works are much sought after, frequently achieving significant premiums in the collectors’ market.

The Artist

Michael Turner is one of the most respected automotive and aviation artists working today, his original works hiiighly prized and priced accordingly. Turner’s reputation was established in the 1950s when his early works were displayed in London’s famous Steering Wheel Club. He went on to receive commissions from organizers of such prestigious events as Le Mans and the Monaco GP to produce their publicity posters, original copies of which are now highly prized.

Michael Turner also had close ties with the McLaren Can-Am team and was responsible of the design of the bodywork of the legendary McLaren M1B.