The huge success of the current Ghibli and Quattroporte sedans has proven Maserati's critics comprehensively wrong.

Oh, how they scoffed at Maserati a few years ago when it announced its sales target of 75,000 units per year by 2018. The naysayers were adamant that Maserati’s cars were too idiosyncratic, its brand too weak to achieve such lofty ambitions.

But Maserati has proven its critics wrong in comprehensive fashion: its Avv. Giovanni Agnelli Plant (AGAP) in Grugliasco, Italy has just turned out car number 100,000, a mere three years after the facility opened.

The car in question is a 350 horsepower MY17 Quattroporte GranSport sedan, finished in white, that is heading to China. Which is significant in itself, as it is China that has driven Maserati’s vast growth over the last couple of years. Indeed, it is the single biggest market for the Quattroporte.

However, the smaller Ghibli sedan is by far and anyway the most popular car built at AGAP, accounting for 70 percent of production. That equates to 70,000 units which makes it the most popular Maserati there has ever been by a significant margin.

The Ghibli could well be overtaken by the Levante SUV, launched earlier this year, which is built just up the road at the Mirafiori plant in Turin. The GranTurismo and GranCabrio are built in Maserati’s hometown of Modena.

Founded by brothers Alfieri, Bindo, Carlo, Ettore, and Ernesto Maserati in 1914, the company started out tuning and racing Diatto cars. It wasn’t until 1926 that the first cars carrying Maserati’s own trident badge were built, but they were soon challenging established marques like Alfa Romeo and Bugatti on both road and track.

In 1937, Maserati was bought out by Adolfo Orsi, whose focus on racing nearly bankrupted the company. It was rescued by Citroen in 1968, but the French offloaded it five years later to Alejandro De Tomaso as the oil crisis bit hard. In 1993, De Tomaso sold his shares to Fiat, who paired Maserati with Ferrari a few years later. That relationship ended in 2005, and Maserati is now joined with Alfa Romeo.

For most of its history, Maserati hasn’t exactly prospered. It took 79 years to build its first 20,000 cars, reaching the mark in 2005. Which puts the numbers produced at AGAP into perspective.

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Gallery: Maserati Quattroporte - AGAP factory