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Ghibli SS Spyder
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  Maserati Ghibli SS Spyder

  Article Image gallery (9) 115/S.49 1259 Specifications User Comments (1)  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1969 - 1972
Numbers built:46 (SS Spyder)
Internal name:AM 115/S49
Designed by:Giorgietto Giugiaro for Ghia
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:January 16, 2012
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWith the production of the mighty 5000 GT all but finished, Maserati was due a new top-of-the-range Grand Tourer by the mid 1960s. Unlike the five-litre V8 powered machine that was available to custom order only, its replacement would need to be a proper production car with a unitary chassis to be viable in the quickly changing market. Accordingly, coach-builder Ghia and its highly talented designer Giorgietto Giugiaro were involved with project 'AM 115' from the very start.

Having recently joined Ghia from Bertone, Giugiaro was at one of his creative peaks in 1966, which was clearly reflected in the fabulous understated design of the new Maserati. Crisp lines and flowing panels were combined in the shark-like coupe body. The sharp nose featured a narrow, full-width grille and pop-up headlights. Another striking element was the fastback roof. Giugiaro spent just three months on the design but still considers it one of his finest.

Much of the running gear for the new Maserati was carried over from the existing Mexico and Quattroporte models. One major difference was the 4.7 litre engine, which was equipped with a competition inspired dry-sump system. This allowed the V8 to be fitted lower in the chassis, which in turn enabled Giugiaro to use an even lower engine cover. Equipped with four Weber carburettors, the beautiful twin-cam unit produced around 330 bhp. It was mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, with a Borg Warner 3-speed automatic available as an option.

The big V8 was housed in a separate subframe that formed the front half of the chassis and also supported the suspension. At the front fully independent double wishbones with coil springs were fitted, while at the rear a traditional live axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs was fitted. Stopping power was provided by hydraulic, servo-assisted discs on all four corners. Completed the Tipo AM 115 Maserati tipped the scales at a formidable 1530 kg.

Dubbed the Ghibli after a hot, dry, desert wind, the new Maserati made its debut in the fall of 1966 at the Turin Motor Show. Thanks to its stunning lines and powerful engine, the Ghibli was one of the show's big hits. Fortunately for Maserati, it also proved a big hit in the salesroom as the demand far exceeded the initial batch of 100 cars scheduled for production. In the following years, various tweaks small tweaks were made to the interior and exterior with the additional vents in the engine cover as the most obvious.

In November of 1968, the Ghibli range was expanded with a Spyder model, which came with an optional, steel hard-top. At the same time a slightly larger version of the V8 was announced for the new Ghibli ss model. Displacing just over 4.9 litre, the bigger engine was more powerful but also a little more docile thanks to a lower compression. Offered alongside the 'standard' Ghibli, the ss model was also available in Spyder form.

Production of the Ghibli continued well into 1972 and by that time 1280 examples were built, including 125 Spyders. It was eventually replaced by the Khamsin introduced in 1974 but it failed to live up to the aesthetic and commercial success of its fabled predecessor. In the early 1990s the Ghibli name was revived for the company's two-door coupe model.

Today the original Ghibli is one of the most sought after of Maserati's production models. Becoming ever more valuable, perfect examples are quickly approaching the value of its contemporary rival, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona. With just 46 examples produced, the ss Spyder is the rarest Ghibli variant.

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