1974 Maserati Merak
Coachwork by Ital Design
Chassis no. AM122US1382
2,965cc Quad-Cam V6 Engine
3 Weber Carburetors
190bhp at 6,000rpm
5-Speed Manual Transaxle
4-Wheel Independent Suspension
4-Wheel Disc Brakes
*One of only 630 original version Meraks
*Fitted with desirable European chrome bumpers
*High quality restoration to original specifications
*Only two known private owners from new
*Incredible value for a true 1970s Italian thoroughbred
The Maserati Merak
Maserati followed-up its first mid-engined supercar - the Bora - with the similar Merak.. Launched at the 1972 Paris Motor Show, the Merak was a competitor for Ferrari's top-selling Dino 246 and used a stretched version of the Maserati-built four-cam V6 that had debuted in the Citroën SM. The French firm owned Maserati at the time, so the Merak made use of the SM's transmission and power-operated, all-disc braking. Derived from a V8 engine designed by the great Giulio Alfieri, Maserati's V6 was increased in capacity from the SM's 2,675cc to 2,965cc for the Merak and developed 190bhp, enough for a top speed of 152mph. The unitary construction chassis, all-independent suspension and impeccable handling remained basically as the V8-engined Bora's, though to reduce costs the latter's tubular rear subframe was replaced by an extension of the all-steel monocoque. In addition, the Merak offered the convenience of '+2' seating in the rear and superior all-round vision thanks to its distinctive rear 'flying buttresses'.
Competition from Ferrari's new Dino V8 prompted the introduction of a more powerful 'SS' version for 1975, followed later by a 2.0-liter version the Merak 2000 GT introduced to take advantage of Italy's taxation rates for vehicles displacing less than 2,000cc.
Widely recognized as one of the finest, if not the finest, of contemporary V6s, the Merak engine proved smooth, powerful and capable of delivering its urge over a surprisingly wide range for such a high performance engine. Like any true thoroughbred, the Merak possessed handling commensurate with its breathtaking acceleration. "Performance and handling are the raison d'etre of a mid-engined sportscar, and the Merak's astounding cornering power is a match for its straight-line punch," observed Motor magazine. The most successful Maserati of its day, the Merak ceased production in 1983 after 1,832 had been built, only 630 of these being the original version which had a production run of 1972-1974.
The Motorcar Offered
We are advised by the consignor that this numbers-matching Merak has had only two private, San Francisco Bay Area-based owners from new. Mr. William Bradley of Mountain View, California, its first known owner, obtained the highly desirable and rarely seen European-specification chrome bumpers, which it still wears today, directly from the Maserati factory in Italy. These attractive bumpers replace the much-disliked US "impact bumpers" which did no favors to the pure lines of this attractive wedge-shaped GT.
The Merak's second known owner was Frank Pepler of San Francisco, who had a complete engine-out restoration performed to Concours standards. The car was refinished in its original fly yellow color and presents strikingly with the Merak's signature design feature - aluminium flying buttress rear roof pillars. The yellow is a stark contrast to its black leather interior, set off by a mouse hair dashboard in very fine condition. Overall, the Merak presents as a very good example throughout, including an impressively detailed engine bay.
The car has been serviced and maintained regularly during its lifetime with SM World of Valencia, California, with various receipts included. Photos documenting the engine-out restoration also accompany the sale.
Mechanically the car is described as being in excellent order by the consignor, who further advises that all of the electrics work, including the Blaupunkt AM/FM radio, automatic antenna, clock, and power windows. Today the Merak looks stunning with its svelte European bumpers and interesting styling details, including its early-type single spoke steering wheel. Additionally, the car is offered with books including a use and maintenance manual as well as a shop manual, and a quantity of restoration and maintenance receipts.
The Merak is perhaps one of the most underrated Italian sports cars of the 1970s, representing great value at a modest price. Overshadowed by the V8 Bora and its 6- and 8-cylinder Ferrari competitors, the Merak has yet to fully realize its potential in the market. Its contemporary competitor, the Ferrari Dino 246, trades at many times what a comparable Merak sells for, however this delta cannot be justified by any rational thinker. The Merak, therefore, is a thoughtful and sophisticated choice for the Italian sports car enthusiast. This lovingly-cared for example is one of the finest we have come across in many years. It is truly advisable to "buy the best" example of a particular model, and here is a great opportunity to do just that.