World famous Ghibli SS restored by McGrath consigned to auction at Bonhams on 4th December
Ghibli was the first Maserati Supercar. Launched in 1966 and named after a hot wind blowing across the Sahara, the styling was by a young Giorgetto Giugiaro then working at Ghia while the mechanical design was the work of Maserati’s chief engineer, Giulio Alfieri.
Featuring a dry-sump version of Maserati’s quad-cam V8 engine, necessary to squeeze the engine under the low bonnet line, Alfieri used a 4.7 litre version initially but from 1970 a 4.9 litre version became available, known as SS and producing 335bhp at 5,500rpm. For the running gear, Alfieri used his experience to choose the best of proprietary parts; five-speed gearboxes and power steering from ZF, Double wishbone front suspension from Alford and Alder and a Salisbury live axle to the rear.
The Ghibli was an immediate success, especially in Maserati’s largest market the USA, where it became the must have car for the rich and famous of the late 60s, gaining a reputation for being not only a car to arrive in, but a great drive as well. Performance was astounding, with a 166mph maximum speed but at the same time effortless and civilised compared to most supercars.
Ghibli production ended in 1972 and in all 1280 examples were built. This example, a 4.9 litre SS version, was delivered new in Rome in April 1971, having been ordered by a Sig. Basquini through Maserati’s flagship dealership, Autosport in Bologna. Obviously an extrovert, Basquini specified a particularly lurid shade of metallic green with a white Connolly hide interior.
Later in its life the car found its way to Germany and but its most interesting history has been with the current owner, President of the UK Maserati Club, Alexander Fyshe, who bought the car in 1989 to add to his collection. Having always wanted a Ghibli, Alex immediately knew that this matching numbers example was a long-term car and commissioned a restoration with marque specialists, McGrath Maserati.
Appreciating the need for the highest quality and attention to detail, Prestige Restorations were chosen as the bodywork partner and the car spent the next four years in restoration. Alex specified his personal choice of Rosso Cordoba exterior paint and a new Connolly leather interior in Crema. On completion, it debuted at the Silverstone Festival in 1993, where it won the Maserati Club Annual Concours. This would be the first of many Concours trophies the car would win, as it was widely acknowledged as one of the very best. It would also feature in various magazines and books, including Maserati Heritage by Ayre and even Quentin Willson’s Cool cars!
However, Alexander fully intended to use the car and each year would take it on the Maserati International Rally, visiting Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and of course Italy on numerous occasions of the next twenty years, proving that it always drove as well as it looked.
The quality of the restoration was such that even today the car still looks magnificent and has the reputation of ‘the one to beat’. Maintained throughout by McGraths and offered with a new MOT, in recent years it has seen less use, making its last public appearance at the Maserati gathering for the centenary at Silverstone in 2014. Rarely does a Maserati of this quality and reputation come on to the market.