Do a bit of digging on the history of Italian automotive manufacturers and a common theme will start emerging, big brands like Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Lamborghini and Maserati all rose to giddy heights in their heyday only to come crashing back down to near (or actual) bankruptcy by the turn of the century.

Fiat is perhaps the sole business success story, as even indomitable Ferrari went through tough times and the failed buyout deal with Ford in the ‘60s is well documented.

Today, most of these marques (save for Lancia) are once again back on an upward trajectory, thanks in part to assistance from parent companies VW AG and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Maserati in particular was on the verge of disappearing into obscurity more than once…

The company turned 103-years old last year and we retrace its illustrious and colourful history from some of its iconic early race cars to the latest sports saloons and coupes, punctuated by a few ill-conceived and poorly built models in-between. Start slideshow