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Maserati had retired from factory racing participation due to the Guidizzolo accident during the 1957 Mille Miglia, though it built racing cars to be raced by others after that date. After 1957, the company long-known for competitive racing participation became more and more focussed on road cars, and chief engineer Giulio Alfieri built the 6-cylinder Maserati 3500 2+2 coupe featuring an aluminum body over Carrozzeria Touring’s Superleggera structure, a design also used for the small-volume V8-powered Maserati 5000. Other derivative models would follow, including a very attractive two-seat convertible.
Debuting at the 1966 Turin Motor Show, the original Maserati Ghibli is a two-door, two-seater coupé released by the Italian automaker for the 1967 model year. The V-8 powered Ghibli was the most popular Maserati vehicle since the company withdrew from racing in the 1950s and due mostly to their relatively high priority on production and service to the retail customer, the car handily outsold its two biggest rivals, the Ferrari Daytona and the Lamborghini Miura. The Ghibli’s steel body, renowned for its low, shark-shaped nose, was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. Giugiaro, who today heads his own design firm ItalDesign, worked at coachbuilder Ghia when he designed the Ghibli. Initially powered by a front-engine four-overhead-cam 330 horsepower V-8 engine, the original Ghibli had a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 154 mph with either a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission. For weight balance as well as the design element, Maserati fitted the car with two fuel tanks, which could be filled via flaps on either side via the roof pillars. The car also featured pop-up headlamps, leather sport seats and alloy wheels, making it a radical departure not only in style but in features that would appeal to the broadest market of top-flight sports cars.
1968 brought about a great change – the purchase of the company by Citroën. Adolfo Orsi remained the nominal president but Maserati would change a great deal. New models were rapidly launched and built in much greater numbers than before. Citroën borrowed Maserati expertise and engines for the Citroën SM and other vehicles and Maseratis also incorporated Citroën technology, particularly in hydraulic suspension and brake advancements. Responding to another demand to help boost sales, a convertible Ghibli Spyder went into production in 1969. The Spiders were relatively rare with only 125 produced and outnumbered by the coupés by almost ten to one. The slightly more powerful Ghibli SS with an output of 335 hp was released in 1970. The Ghibli went out of production in 1973 and found a successor the following year with the Bertone-designed Khamsin. In all, 1149 Coupes, 125 Spiders and 25 Spider SS models were produced.
Recently ranked by Automobile magazine as one of the 25 Most Beautiful Cars Ever, the Ghibli could only be outdone by a Spider variant. Apart from the Ferrari Daytona drop-top, the Maserati Ghibli remains one of the most desirable convertible sports cars of this era. With only 125 cars produced and a scant 79 with the 4.7 litre engine, the Ghibli’s tubular chassis with a live rear axle, leaf springs and a single locating arm make it a revolutionary and considerably rare automobile. The exceptional red Spider offered here was built late in 1970 and was first sold in Atlanta, GA by Baker Motor Cars. Later owned by superstar car collector Gene Ponder, this was the car featured on the 1992 Maserati International Club poster. Correctly and comprehensively restored in brilliant red with a black leather interior and cloth top, it sits on four authentic Borrani wire wheels and is absolutely ready mechanically as it is cosmetically to take its new owner wherever he or she desires.