Arizona | Lot 7
1978 Maserati Merak SS
$44,000 USD | Sold
| Phoenix, Arizona
16 January 2014
- A rare and elegant color combination
- Matching-numbers drivetrain; original paint and interior
- Less than 15,000 original miles
217 hp, 3,000 cc double overhead-camshaft V-6 engine with triple two-barrel Weber carburetors, five-speed manual transaxle, independent front and rear suspension with upper and lower control arms with coil-over shock absorbers, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 102.3 in.
In the early ’70s, Italy’s exotic marques developed “junior supercar” models as complements to their larger, faster, and more expensive top-of-range machines. Ferrari launched the Dino 308 GT4 and Lamborghini the mid-engined Urraco. Maserati’s front line exotic was the Bora, which was an elegant, Giugiaro-designed slingshot that was powered by a descendant of the legendary racing V-8. Not wishing to develop a new from-scratch platform, Maserati sent the Bora back to Giorgetto Giugiaro’s drawing board, asking ItalDesign to rework the car into something equally handsome but less costly to build, and something that was competitive with the offerings from Ferrari and Lamborghini.
The great Giugiaro met the challenge with smart solutions, including the replacement of the Bora’s expensive stainless-steel roof panel and the reconfiguration of the glassy rear canopy engine cover with a more conventional steel lid and a pair of flying buttresses to visually continue the sloping roofline over the rear deck. Maserati already had an appropriate engine available: the DOHC V-6 powerplant it had developed for use by Citroën in the exotic SM. As Maserati was owned by Citroën at the time, it only made sense to dip into the Citroën parts bin for its entire dashboard and instrument cluster, plus a myriad of hydraulic systems, which reduced costs and development time. The new model, which was called Merak, after a star in the Ursa Major constellation, came to market in 1972.
The 170-horsepower, 3.0-liter Merak was lauded for its exceptional handling balance and comfortable ride, and it competed favorably with the V-8-engined Urraco and 308 GT4. The Merak proved a worthy addition to the lineup, and when Maserati and Citroën had divorced, sometime mid-decade, the Merak was given a substantive mid-life update. The SM-sourced interior gave way to a more elegant, Bora-style cabin, and the complex Citroën hydraulics were replaced with more conventional mechanical systems. The engine was reengineered for a near 30-horsepower increase, the bumpers were redesigned, and a new chin spoiler was installed to reduce front end lift at high speeds. The much revised and improved Merak was rechristened Merak SS.
Maserati produced just 1,236 Meraks between 1972 and 1982; thus, the car on offer is one of only 312 SS models produced for the U.S. market. Factory records state that it was delivered to Maserati Automobiles, U.S.A., Inc., on October 17, 1977. It still wears its original Argento silver paint and Racing Blue Connolly leather interior, and all of the U.S.-spec emissions and safety equipment is present and operable. The car wears a mild patina of honest use and enjoyment, underscoring its originality. The factory triple Weber carburetors have recently been cleaned and synched, and they operate properly. According to its owner, the Merak fires easily, runs well, doesn’t overheat, and is an absolute joy to drive. The consignor also notes that all mechanical and fluid services are current (next due at 15,000 miles). Included with the car is a complement of factory owners, parts, and shop manuals, as well as a notebook of articles and sales material.
This original Merak SS is ready for street use or as an addition to any modern sports car collection, and it is the embodiment of all the best traits of Maserati engineering.