Maserati Merak

Known as the ‘Bora Junior’, the Merak was often overlooked — but with a peppy V6 and terrific handling, the baby brother deserves lots of praise
By Imran Malik, Features Writer
April 05, 2017

The Seventies was arguably the greatest period for flashy Italian supercars. You had the likes of the Countach, Stratos, and the Pantera — and they didn’t just all share a sleek, wedgy shape — they were all mid-engined too. They were akin to racing cars designed for the road. Maserati gave us the Bora in ’71 and with a 4.7-litre V8 making 280bhp, it offered a thrilling drive and gorgeous looks. A year later came its baby brother, the Merak.

Sharing the Bora’s chassis, suspension, steering and hydraulic brakes — which provided excellent stopping power and were praised for their progressive response — it wasn’t just as attractive, it was much cheaper and 250kg lighter. And with a mid-engine 3.0-litre twin-cam V6 (the same mill used in the SM; the other reminder of the French/Italian “marriage” was the dashboard which was lifted intact from the Citroën...) and mated to a five-speed manual, it was potent (190bhp, 240kph top speed, 0-100kph in 8.5 seconds), but more importantly it was far more nimble. In fact, it became known as the best-handling Maserati at the time.

When Maserati was taken over by De Tomaso, the Citroën engineering influences were ditched. The revised Merak SS of ’75 made a huge impact and possessed even better handling than before and performance was improved too. The V6 was tuned to 220bhp (it got bigger carburettors and a higher compression ratio along with a 50kg drop in weight) and to counter the oil crisis of the Seventies came another variant, the 2000 GT which got a detuned V6 and better fuel consumption.

The Bora ceased production in 1980 but the Merak kept going until 1983 and with a production run spanning 11 years and 1,830 units built in total, it’s not impossible to find a very good condition example and for a reasonable price. For instance, a low mileage and well maintained SS will set you back around Dh250,000 — that isn’t an awful lot to pay for what is a fabulous alternative to the more common V8 Maseratis out there.