The Ghibli was the ultimate concept car built under the Orsis’ management and represented their way of leaving with their heads held high, due to car’s beauty and sales success. After 10 years of building high level grand touring cars, all of which were received extremely well by the clientele and the press, Maserati had a well-structured and complete range of products. They went from a 6-cylinder two-seater Mistral to the important 8-cylinder four-seat Mexico and the Quattroporte sedan, a uniquely unrivalled car.
It was the time to exploit that success and renew a trend that was starting to feel its age. The world was opening up to the beat revolution, with cars of the great performance and visual impact taking the stage, among them the Lamborghini Miura and Ferrari Daytona. The Italian body stylists were unleashing their own revolution in shape, as they went from soft joint curves to taut and geometric surfaces. While maintaining their less extreme and ostentatious philosophy, Maserati also had to turn the page and introduce more horse power and style.
There was no problem in horse power terms, as their 8-cylinder was able to generate enough of that; 340hp from the 4700 cc version and if that were not enough for some, a 4900 cc unit was ready and waiting. To give style more elbow room, the height of the hood was lowered, the engine was given a dry sump, which was purely a racing development that was not strictly necessary on a Maserati road car. But none of it included technical innovation in relation to the consolidated trends of a decade: a tubular chassis, independent front suspension, beam axle with leaf springs to the rear.
Ghia was brought in to create the car’s style, a company that had Giorgetto Giugiaro as their creative driving force and who was fresh from his success at Bertone. For the first time, the designer took advantage of the body stylist that employed him and became a celebrity in his own right, a recognized talent. The established names, starting with Bertone and Pininfarina, did not lag behind and pushed forward their new research with masterly creations, but Giugiaro had the aura of the establishment challenger about him, of creative freshness that gave him a special appeal.
Designing the new Maserati sports coupe was a great opportunity for him and he took it with both hands. The Ghibli was his most important creation to date, in a short career that went from working for Bertone to forming his own company, ItalStyling, soon followed by Italdesign. The first obvious change from the cars of the past was in the integration of the Ghibli’s volumes, which also took place in its Ferrari Daytona competitor. There was no distinction between the car’s body and its cab which, instead of being clearly separate and superimposed, was perfectly integrated: the bumpers no longer gave support to a smaller volume, but disappeared into a single surface with rear mounts. And it was no small difference. The surfaces were taut, clearly framed by support theories and the lines – for example, the lights profile – and geometrically clear-cut.
Giurgiaro’s talent managed to avoid the sense of rigidity that such treatments often suggested by adding continuous tension that was so natural it almost went unnoticed. The reduced height of the hood was exploited to create an absolutely new front for the Ghibli: retractable headlights, an extremely subtle air intake that spanned the car’s entire width and played a protective role, with its slightly protruding chrome perimeter. In the center, reduced in size by the lack of available space, the Trident was the car’s only link with tradition.
The side was structured by a dihedral angle that ran along its entire flank generating two surfaces, the upper continuing into the triangular pillar created by the vertical cut of the windows. The roof group ended with a single line in the stubby tail, which was also extremely subtle and cut by wraparound bumpers, the only elements added to an integral and pure shape.
The interior had just two seats and was conditioned by an imposing dashboard of T-integration with the console in which instruments and controls were recessed. There was also a change in the way the interior was designed. Rather than visually ordering, the functional components – instruments, switches, warning lights, vents – on a generically shaped base that enhances them like wood, leather or brushed aluminum – Giugiaro integrated them all into an overall design that prevailed over the single elements to present them as a strong aspect of the car. There was a frame in relief throughout the perimeter of the T, the inside of which was connected to the two levels that hosted the components and were linked by a negative dihedral shape.
|Cubic capacity||4719 cc|
|Power Output||330/5000 hp/rpm|
|Top Speed||280 kph|