Thursday, February 4, 2010

1977 Maserati Khamsin - "Champagne Motoring For Beer Money"

This is a rarely seen car. There's a good reason for that; only 421 were built. That's too bad, too. In my eyes it's one of the nicest looking Maseratis ever built.

The Khamsin was penned by Marcello Gandini, then with Bertone.

Maserati was under Citroen's ownership when this car was introduced and there are touches of Citroen throughout, notably the hydraulics. The brakes, clutch, self-centering steering, headlight doors and even the seat height adjustment work off a version of Citroen's high-pressure hydraulic system.

The Khamsin came with Maserati's Tipo 54 V8. The engine had been around since 1959. In the Khamsin it was 4.9 liters and used 4 twin choke Webers. It put out 320 HP. The Khamsin could reach 60 MPH in 5.6 seconds and had a top speed of over 160 MPH.

The car being offered on eBay has had just two owners. It was originally sliver, but at some point was painted black. I have mixed feelings about changing the color of a car like this, but black over red looks so good, I would keep it this way. The seller also replaced the US rear bumper with a European one.

This car has an automatic transmission. Roughly 30% of all Khamsins came with automatics. While it seems insane to have an automatic transmission in a car like this, I've seen several websites that give it high marks. Thecarnut.com summed it up like this: "The Khamsin is one of the few Maserati GT cars where the automatic actually goes very well with the character of the car. Do not dismiss a nice Khamsin just because it is fitted with an automatic transmission as many were."

The "champagne motoring for beer money" line I used in the title comes from the eBay listing. These cars sell for very little money, especially when you consider what you're getting. They are one of the few remaining Italian exotic bargains. (As I write this the car has 1 bid of $29,000.00 and the reserve, if there was one, has been met.)

As with all Maseratis, regular maintenance is a must and parts, when you need them, are extremely expensive.

While this is most certainly not a car you'd want to commute to work in, the great thing about Maseratis (and most Italian cars) is that the more you drive them the better they become. The worst thing you can do to a Maserati is turn it into a trailer queen. Buy it, drive it and enjoy it.

Located in Sunol, California, click here to see the eBay listing.

For some reason the seller did not include a picture of the rear of this car. The space between the taillights is clear to aid in rearward vision. This was a styling cue Gandini also used on the Lamborghini Espada. (Honda later used it on the CRX.) In Euro trim, it was beautiful. With the huge US bumpers, it was hideous. Below is a picture of a European Khamsin (foreground) and an American Khamsin. You can see the huge difference between the two cars. The car being offered on eBay has, fortunately, had the European conversion done. There is also a front bumper kit, but it appears that this car still as its US 5 MPH bumper.

This picture comes courtesy of the Khamsin Registry. You can find their very informative website here.

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