(Forty years ago, in 1981, I enjoyed testing the Maserati Merak SS, an Italian dream machine that I reviewed in the Denver Post.)
The $ 42,637 Maserati 81 was the most expensive car I drove and reviewed until July 1993 when I tested the speed of the 93 Toyota Supra Turbo, with a sticker price of 43,607. $.
The Maserati was built for the Alps, from speed through passes to tight turns in hairpin turns. It was loaned to me for a few days in the summer of 1981 by Bill Stewart of the Royal Carriage Works at My Garage, 455 Broadway, Denver.
Here are excerpts from the review in The Post:
The driver sits very low in the reclining red leather seat, with black leather on the console, a red dashboard, and dark suede on the dashboard. The pleasant sounding AM-FM stereo cassette is from Blaupunkt.
The car’s turning radius is narrow at 34.4 feet. It stands just 44.6 inches tall and weighs 2,905 pounds on a 102-inch wheelbase. It is 180 inches long and 69.6 inches wide. The front tread is 58 inches, with 56.9 inches at the rear. The brakes are disc, impressively large in the swept area. The steering is rack-and-pinion, with adjustable tilt and height of the wheel.
The 181 cubic inch V6 engine has a compression ratio of 8.5 to 1 and 180 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. The mid-engined Maserati’s fuel supply comes from three Weber double-groove carburetors.
I drove a few cars that were faster than the Merak, but they were powered by a V-8. This one really moves after the initial second. The second speed is particularly efficient in the range of 3000 to 5000 rpm. It will allow you to climb a hill in one of the five gears. It cruises at 55 mph at 2,600 rpm and operates at the same speed in 4th gear and at 3,350 rpm. The balance is excellent at high speeds.
Top speed is somewhere above 140 mph, according to Maserati officials.
Although the Merak’s EPA rating is only 10 miles per gallon, the test model averaged 17.1 on Denver-area freeways.
To the base price of $ 40,225 for the Merak SS is added $ 550 for the tax on heavy gasoline consumers, $ 600 for the special two-tone paint and $ 1,262 for transportation, bringing the total to 42,637. $.
The light rod is located so close to the signal rod that a driver unfamiliar with the controls can mistake one for the other once or twice after dark.
Under the hood is a small luggage compartment, including an impressive set of tools in a leather bag.
The rear axle provides access to the engine, battery, spare wheel and fuel system. Air conditioning and alternator are at the far rear of the engine.
Maserati also built a 4,600-pound four-door Quattroporte in 1981, which sold for around $ 56,000. It is powered by a 5 liter V8 engine. The large luxury model has in the trunk a full set of leather luggage to match the interior of the car.
The Denver Post editors and editors played no role in the preparation of this post.