The 1970s produced some true automotive lemons. It was a decade when barefaced badge engineering and gluttonous V8 engines were all the rage, and nobody cared that these big bruisers cost three arms and a leg to run. The Kyalami is one such monument to excess, a copy of the De Tomaso Longchamp with Maserati’s all-alloy V8 on board instead of Ford’s 5.8-liter cast-iron lump.
The Kyalami was meant to compete with the Jaguar XJS but failed hopelessly. Plagued with electrical gremlins, this was a noisy, bulky, and unrefined machine that was neither beautiful nor poised. Yet despite all that, it still sports that emotive trident on its nose and emits a deep and strident V8 bark. The Kyalami might not be a great car, but most of us, at least while looking at it, find it hard to tell the difference.
DE TOMASO ADAPTATION
Maserati designer Pietro Frua retouched the De Tomaso Longchamp design, turning it into the Kyalami. He gave it a new lower nose with twin lights, full width hood, and new rubber-cap bumpers with integral indicators.
Dainty rear light clusters were borrowed from the contemporary Fiat 130 Coupe.
Power-assisted steering robbed the car of much needed accuracy and feel.
The engine was a four-cam, five-bearing 4.9 V8, with four twin-choke Weber carbs, propelling the Kyalami to a touch under 150 mph (241 km/h).
The Kyalami generated lots of commotion from fat 205/70 Michelins.
NOT A PRETTY FACE
The frontal aspect is mean but clumsy. The three-part front bumper looks cheap, while the Maserati grille and trident seem to have been bolted on as afterthoughts.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Maserati Kyalami 4.9 (1976–82)
PRODUCTION 250 approx.
BODY STYLE Two-door, 2+2 sports saloon.
CONSTRUCTION Steel monocoque body.
ENGINE 4930cc all-alloy V8.
POWER OUTPUT 265 bhp at 6000 rpm.
TRANSMISSION Five-speed ZF manual or three-speed Borg Warner automatic.
SUSPENSION Independent front with coil springs and wishbones. Independent rear with double coils, lower links, and radius arms.
BRAKES Four-wheel discs.
MAXIMUM SPEED 147 mph (237 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 7.6 sec
0–100 MPH (0–161 KM/H) 19.4 sec
A.F.C. 14 mpg (3.6 km/l)