The Prime Minister used to drive a Holden, but if you’re Italy’s president it’s a bit hard to squeeze into a Ferrari — Pavarotti for one couldn’t fit.

The next best thing is a Maserati which has been the choice of transport since a Quattroporte was presented to President Sandro Pertinmi back in 1979.

Designed by Giugiaro, the 3rd generation Quattroporte was characterised by a luxurious and refined interior.

In 1982, however, the President’s General Secretariat placed an order with Maserati for the construction of an armoured Quattroporte for Presidential use.

With high-strength manganese steel plating, the car’s cabin was completely bullet-proof.

The windows were also armoured, with four electrically controlled windows, each 31mm thick polycarbonate.

The roof could be opened electrically above the rear seats to allow the President to stand and greet crowds on the move.

A special grab handle was installed on the back of the right front seat to make this upright position safer and more comfortable.

In 1983 the Modena firm supplied a Quattroporte, in “Dark Aquamarine” colour with beige velvet interior that became Pertinmi’s choice for institutional engagements.

At the President’s request the car was customised with the inclusion of a large ashtray and pipe holder between the rear seats.

The car also featured a bar, telephone system and intercom for communication with people outside the car.

It was in this Maserati that the President made made his historic visit to the Ferrari factory in Maranello on May 29, 1983.

Ceremonial etiquette demanded that once the car had entered the plant, host, Enzo Ferrari should approach the presidential vehicle.

But Ferrari remained motionless about 10 metres from the car, refusing to budge because of the long-standing local rivalry between the Prancing Horse and Trident brands.

Instead the elderly President was forced to get out of the Quattroporte and walk over to greet the Ferrari boss.

In the 1980s, other famous personalities also chose the Quattroporte generation as their means of transport.

Perhaps the best known was Modenese tenor Luciano Pavarotti; there are famous photographs of him in his Quattroporte outside La Scala in Milan.

In 1986 the “Royale” version of the car was launched, with interior upgrades including soft leather seats and lavish use of burr walnut on the dashboard and door panels.

Other distinctive features included a radio telephone in the compartment between the front seats and the small stow-away folding table in the rear doors.

Equipped with a powerful 4.9-litre V8, just 51 of the cars were built with this trim.

Forty years later the Maserati Quattroporte remains the President of Italy’s official car, painted “Blu Istituzionale” — a colour specially created by Maserati.

The rear of the console bears the official crest of the Italian Republic, with an interior trimmed in “Black Piano” and full-grain Pieno Fiore leather.

Particular care was taken over the soundproofing of the cabin to ensure the upmost of comfort on board the car in all conditions of use.

You never know who could be listening . . .

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Chris Riley e1562539398605 96x96 - Pavarotti had one of them too

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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