Maserati quit racing in the 1950s to concentrate on producing road cars, but failed to come up with a real winner until the mid-1960s. But the debut of the fabulous Ghibli coupe at the Turin Motor Show in 1966 changed all that.
Eager customers had to wait until 1967 to get their hands on one of these low, streamlined beauties with their twin fuel tanks, a characteristic shark-like nose, pop-up headlights, alloy wheels and a luxurious leather interior.
In the early 1960s many makers were turning to fibreglass bodies in order to reduce weight and thus boost performance, but Maserati opted for a traditional steel body designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro at Ghia. The Ghibli did not seem to be disadvantaged by being made of old-fashioned heavy metal, with searing acceleration and a top speed around the 150 mph (241 km/h) mark. The transmission was either three-speed automatic or five-speed manual, with the former appealing to Americans and the latter to Europeans.
Whatever their choice of gearbox, those first customers were so satisfied with their beautifully designed and well-built GTs that they told their rich friends, with the result that the Ghibli actually outsold formidable rivals like the Ferrari Daytona and the Lamborghini Miura. Encouraged by this commercial success, Maserati created the convertible Ghibli Spyder in 1969.
These are rare, as Ghibli production ceased in 1973 to make way for the Maserati Khamsin, designed by Bertone. Even rarer is the more powerful Ghibli Spyder SS — only 25 were made, making them the most desirable of Ghiblis. Not that the others are short of admirers — the coupe (around 1,150 made) and the regular Spyder (125 made) are amongst the most sought-after of classic 1960s Italian GTs, of which there are many. But the Ghibli’s star quality certainly remains undimmed.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1966 (until 1973)
4,919 cc DOHC V8
Top speed of 154 mph (248 km/h);0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.8 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Many a car manufacturer has decided that there’s no keeping a good name down, and Maserati is no exception – after a 20-year holiday the Ghibli returned in 1992 as a refined but conservative two-door, four-seater luxury coupe with performance that matched the original’s but without any of the original Ghibli’s raw supercar appeal.