Maserati's Ghibli, named after a blazing African wind descending upon the Mediterranean, was designed by a rising star: Giorgetto Giugiaro at Carrozzeria Ghia. Underdog to Ferrari and Lamborghini no more, the Ghibli could rightfully claim to be the first of a new breed of Italian supercars of the 1960s. Some even argue that it features the most seductive design of any 1960s car, certainly of any Maserati. Fantastically desirable today, the Ghibli was one of those completely unattainable GT cars we used to drool over as teenagers, with its low stance reeking of genuine machismo, super long hood with fresh air scoops, center-lock magnesium wheels, and numerous other breathtaking details.
Maserati's breathtakingly expensive, undisputed flagship at the time, the Ghibli is a pure 2-seater. A mere 1,149 Ghibli Coupes were built from 1967 to 1973; of those, many succumbed to the merciless rust devil or were driven into the ground during the years when collectors didn't give a hoot about this true Milestone sportscar. Four decades later, finding a healthy Ghibli is quite a challenge.
The one-of-a-kind Ghibli featured here, VIN *00116*, is special in more ways than one. A very early example of the breed, it was sold new in California and subsequently spent some quality time at the North Hollywood workshops of George Barris, King of the Kustomizers, being specially massaged for the famous singing duo Sonny & Cher. Having previously built "His & Her's" Ford Mustang convertibles for the pair, Barris was very familiar with the pop superstars' eclectic taste.
In 1971, the Maserati was sold to the owner of an entertainment company in dry and sunny Arizona, where it remained hidden for over 30 years. Upon the car's return to California in 2005, it was acquired by a prominent Central Coast collector, retired CEO of a world famous shoe manufacturing conglomerate. The old license plates and a stack of annual registration slips accompany the car.
Originally sporting a Blu Azzurro finish, Barris applied his trademark multi-stage Murano Gold Pearl over a white base to the Maserati, which wears its patina with pride. In his characteristic showman fashion, Barris also gold-plated the Ghibli's emblems and affixed his enamelled crest to the rear closing panel.
Having always been a Southwestern car, our Ghibli miraculously escaped the dreaded rust attack. There are a few very small bubbles near the door bottoms, but that's all. Furthermore, the car apparently has never been involved in any major accident. Naturally, there are a few dings and scrapes here and there, however, the shut lines of doors and hoods are excellent; peering down the car's sides reveals wonderfully smooth, straight sheet metal.
Click on any of the above images for a full-size view
Best of all, the car retained its original, center-lock CAMPAGNOLO mag wheels, integral part of the Ghibli's awe-inspiring design. The picture on the right shows a remnant of the factory "Campagnolo" sticker.
Period correct high speed RIVERSIDE WTO radial tires of the dimension H70-15 still show plenty of tread.
Click on any of the above images for a full-size view
Equally exciting is the condition of the undercarriage. Thanks to a sheltered life in the most benevolent climate imaginable, the original sheetmetal is dry, clean, and free of any corrosion.
In true American hot rodding fashion, the first sign of trouble from the finicky DOHC power plant--we hear that Sonny Bono was quite the lead foot in his day--prompted the installation of a Super-High-performance 302c.i. Chevrolet V8, back in 1970. This motor actually features many of the characteristics of the 4.7-liter lump, which redlined at a low 5,500 rpm and had good low-range grunt (340 ft/lb torque @ 3,500 rpm). The particular four-bolt main bearing, solid lifter, 5-liter engine with cold air induction employed here runs and sounds fantastic; the small block can easily be revved to 6,500rpm, is roughly 10% stronger, and provides even more torque than the original.
Coupled to a TH400 transmission, it represents the best of all worlds, turning this Ghibli into a truly exciting, worry-free "driver"!
Undoubtedly, the Ghibli features one of the sexiest automobile bodies ever conceived. Forty-one years after it was born, it's still a stunning presence, from every angle.
Let's have a good look inside now, shall we?
Ghibli's cockpit exudes bona fide 1960s ultra high performance aura. Superbly preserved, the black interior's accoutrements deliver more masculine panache than all 2008 "Bull**itt Edition" Mustangs combined. A hundred design center alumni are desperately trying to imitate this unsurpassably potent exercise in style--alas, they'll never gonna get it this perfect!
Leather-clad center console still houses original shift lever, HVAC outlets, and period BECKER Mexico TR 3-band radio.
Fabulous sport seats--free of any rips or tears--look like they were crafted by Salvatore Ferragamo; they are masterpieces of fit and proportion. Black wool carpeting, door and side panels: everything still looks very nice. Judging by this wonderfully preserved interior, the odometer's indicated mileage of 33,997 might indeed accurately reflect Ghibli's travels of the past 41 years!
Being a true 2-seater, the Ghibli boasts of a huge luggage compartment (replete with humidor-like storage boxes directly behind the seats). It's long enough to carry a surfboard or a couple of sets of skis. Note working dome light and vintage Sonny & Cher monograph.
Low slung rear with various and sundry fittings. California plates are current.
E una bella macchina!
Rust-free area below trunk reveals a brand new battery, factory CAMPAGNOLO spare with correct hold-down clamp, original jack and tool bag.
March 14, 2008, was just another perfectly balmy winter day here in paradise. We couldn't resist the temptation to take the Ghibli out for a quick sprint to the seashore.
The car starts, runs, drives, steers, and stops impeccably well. It sounds heavenly, does not display any ill behavior at all, and is almost frighteningly fast if shifted manually. Naturally, the Ghibli was the center of attention wherever we stopped.
Let your eyes wander beyond the rim of the factory original wood-and-alloy steering wheel down the impossibly long hood, then back to the intricately fitted dash, and you'll be in aficionado heaven.
According to the reputable "Sports Car Market" magazine, Italo-American hybrids are mightily gaining in popularity, their prices climbing into 6-digit territory, deservedly so. We strongly feel that this particular Ghibli is every bit as desirable as a Bizzarini Strada 5300 or Iso Grifo, sharing their DNA and adding its own interesting provenance, being a true Sixties survivor.
A world-famous dream car, exclusively manufactured for racers, tycoons, and playboys, vastly out of reach for us mere mortals when new. A veritable icon from the heyday of unlimited high performance bravado, before faceless bureaucrats hiding behind acronyms like OPEC, EPA, and DOT started to spoil the fun. As desirable as any Lamborghini, Aston, or Ferrari of the period, Sonny and Cher's Ghibli is a scintillating slice of Hollywood history, ready to be adopted by one lucky person, to be cherished like a family heirloom.
So much is certain: this very special Ghibli's appreciation potential is spectacular!
We sold this Maserati Ghibli in May of 2008 to a customer in Southern California.