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Maserati Merak 

Broadcast dates : 17th July 2005
23rd July 2005

The brothers Maserati, Carlo and Alfieri, began their careers in the early 20th century, with the first Maserati car racing in the 1926 Mille Miglia.

Maserati won the world F1 championship with Fangio in 1957, but by the 1960s, control of the company had passed to Citroen. Which was when this car came to being, now owned by Craig Anderson of Bryanston.

Giorgetto Giugiaro was the stylist of the Merak, the man who styled one of the icons of the 1970s, the Volkswagen Golf.

Itís a deceptively modern shape despite being designed in 1972 as the larger-engined Bora.

The V6 Merak is reminiscent of the Lamborghini Muira, early Countach models and even the Ferrari 308.

Striking Campagnola alloy wheels peg this SS model firmly in the late 1970s, as does the knife-edge bodywork.

Yet this was designed as a practical supercar, with two-plus-two seating, and a large luggage space in the nose.

Classic supercars are all about detailing. These machines come from a hand-built lineage, before modern production techniques were applied to cars like the Ferrari 360, and, for that matter, the latest Maserati GTs.

Pop-up headlights were not new even in the 1970s, but they enabled extremely sleek lines.

Inside, the dashboards were made of wood or metal and covered in vinyl. And no supercar of that era would be complete without a dazzling array of gauges and switchgear to give it a jet-fighter look.

The seats are sleek delicate items, not unlike the slip-on Italian shoes favoured by the playboys of that era.

The Bora V8 gave way to the V6 for this "economy" model. Yet by the late 1970s, the SS model had been tweaked to produce some two-hundred and twenty horsepower, or a hundred and sixty-five kilowatts.

The engine was a quad-cam design, quite wild for those days, and wilder SS camshafts and improved breathing made it a "goer" despite its modest three-litre capacity.

The mid-mounted engine also featured some attractive intake plumping which was a forerunner of later Ferraris. Some complex hydraulics were thanks to Citroen influence.

The Merak was quick despite a heavyish weight of some sixteen-hundred kilograms. The low frontal area gave it a top speed in excess of two-hundred and forty kilometres-per-hour, and it could sprint to a hundred in under seven seconds.

It had a V6 howl similar in character to the Ferrari Dino. In fact, so successful was the Merak that over eighteen-hundred units were built over a ten-year lifespan.

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