There were a lot of beautiful cars at last week’s San Marino Motor Classic, and one that Tonyola chastised me for giving the short shrift to was a burgundy Maserati Ghibli coupe. I assured him that there was something about this big Italian GT that caused me to set it aside for its own special post. Go ahead and click through the jump to find unlock this Ghibli’s dark secret.
The Ghibli supplanted the Mistral as Maserati’s grand touring marque leader, and its long and low Giorgetto Giugiaro-penned lines were both contemporary and timeless. While the Mistral was powered by the company’s double over-head cam straight six, much like its competitors from Jaguar and Aston Martin, the Ghibli rocked a V8 under its hood; a new 4-cam 4,719-cc engine topped by a quartet of Weber 38DCNL carbs.
Introduced in 1966, the Ghibli attempted to compete with 12 cylinder cars from Lamborghini and Ferrari. What the eight lacked in piston count was made up for in number of ponies, and for even more the later SS model gained 200-ccs and 15 horsepower over the standard car’s 335.
Beautiful trident-reminicent alloy wheels added some bling to the relatively unadorned Ghibli, and the car looks best in my opinion in dark colors such as this burgundy. Inside this one it’s all buttery cream-colored leather covering every square inch, and that, along with a proper three-spoke alloy and wood steering wheel should provide plenty of tactile enjoyment. The restoration of this Ghibli’s interior is impeccable, however the large and somewhat incongruous shift knob is the first clue that everything is not as it seems on this Maserati.
As I had noted, the Ghibli came with a 4-cam V8, and engine that produced copious amounts of horsepower, and sucked a commensurate amount of gas, necessitating two 13.5 gallon fuel tanks, accessed through sail panel mounted flaps. This car has a V8, and it was built by a company with an ‘M’ in its name, but it’s not the Maserati V8 under that hood. No, this Ghibli comes with an engine built by Mercury Marine, and which could originally be found under the hood of another sports car – that of the ‘King of the Hill’ Corvette ZR1.
At 5.7-litres and 375-bhp, this fuel injected beast is larger and more powerful than the original Ghibli motivator, and the builder of this Anglo/Italian melange has done an admirable job in its disguise, placing a trident on the intake plenum and having MASERATI script etched into each cam cover. The transmission behind the American mill is the ZF 6-speed, also from the Vette.
There of course exists a long history of Italian car makers looking to the U.S. for motivational power, everyone from Iso and DeTomaso doing it at the time this Maserati was built, and even more recently the Qvale. Ghibli coupes – and Maseratis in general – don’t seem to command the kind of fervor or prices as do their Prancing Horse-badged counterparts, so any sacrilege imagined here may be muted. But that’s not to say it wasn’t a shock to watch the hand-beaten hood being popped open only to discover a Mercury Marine living beneath. Mama mia!
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