Maserati that oozed

sophistication

Maserati Khamsin

WITHOUT doubt one of the kings of the road of the 1970s, the Maserati Khamsin was a 160mph 2+2 statement of just what the Trident badge could achieve.

Designed as a replacement for the Giugiaro-styled, Ghia-bodied Ghibli, the Khamsin was unlucky in the fact that it arrived just in time for the energy crisis of the day.

The car was interesting in many ways, not the least of which was that its design saw many aspects of Citroen's past involvement with the company.

Citroen-inspired features included a powered hydraulic system which even raised and lowered the folding headlamps, adjusted the seat, powered the brakes and provided the suspension.

Not forgetting of course, the famous Citroen self-centreing steering which was highly sensitive and made for some interesting driving with so much power available.

Also the company could not rely on a Ghia body because the stylist had been taken over by Ford and the doors were definitely closed.

Which, in a way, was good news because legendary name Marcello Gandini became involved and Bertone was handed the styling brush.

The result was a true classic 2+2 with no gimmickry or over the top touches - just pure flowing lines, finished off by a rear glass panel.

The red-hot V8 engine was a 4.9-litre with 280bhp on tap. The chassis was of the usual tubular steel construction and wishbone suspension featured anti-roll bars front and rear.

I remember driving one of these cars at a test day and its handling was superb to the point of being addictive.

With front-engine, rear-wheel-drive it was a departure from the mid-engined thinking that was dominating Maserati and as such it was very special.

The Khamsin was, without doubt, a true classic design. It has received some criticism over the years over its Citroen-developed features but it has held its ground.

An off-the-clock, totally ga-ga manic supercar? Certainly not.

A highly sophisticated, superfast coupe which turns heads wherever it goes? Most definitely yes.

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