If you’ve never heard of the Maserati Merak, don’t feel bad because you’re not alone. This is one of the strangest Maseratis ever made. If you’re a fan of the brand, then you get a pass on the Merak SS because it’s one of those elusive vehicles that is novel but not widely discussed, however, it’s one that all Maserati lovers at least need to be aware of, just in case it comes up in conversation. It’s a conversation piece and to bring you up to speed, here are ten things that you probably didn’t know about it.
1. It’s an alternative to the Maserati Bora
The Bora is a two-seat supercar that Maserati powered with a V-8 engine. It came out in the late ’70s and its odd appearance actually made it popular and highly desired. The thing that prevented many would be owners from making a purchase was the ridiculously high price. Currently, a 1974 model will cost you around $165,000 but you can pick up a 1978 Merak SS for $95,000 and the look is comparable in novelty.
2. It’s a Giugiaro design
The designer responsible for the Bora is also the man who engineered the Merak. Giorgetto Giugiaro created plans for both vehicles. He borrowed heavily from the front end of the Bora for the Merak, but he gave it a different backside and passed on the fastback design.
3. The Merak is actually practical
Giugiaro saw fit to equip the Merak SS with a smaller engine. the 3.0 liter is a V-6 which allowed for more room in the cabin and the addition of rear seats. It’s a far more practical vehicle than the Bora. It may not have the large engine but it makes up for that particular deficit in leg room.
4. It’s making a comeback as a classic
If you check through the rare finds sites in the automobile classifieds and notices of sale, you’ll find quite a few Maserati Meraks offered for sale. You can tell that it’s something special and of value because of the careful detail sellers are including in the ads. This is a classic car that is most likely to be auctioned than it is to be sold outright. Why? Because its value is solid but it’s enhanced by the price that collectors are willing to pay for the privilege of ownership.
5. The 1981 Maserati Merak SS is a rare car
You may see these cars offered for as low as $30,000 on an auction site, but keep watching because the bids may go up as high as $165,000. The reason that they have such a high value is that there were only 1000 of the SS variants ever made. There were just 312 of them manufactured for the U.S. Market.
6. It shares some similarities with the Citroen SM
The first Maserati Merak was released for sale to the public in 1972. At the time, the brand was having a tough time keeping the business going until it was taken under the wing of the Citroen Corporation. There are some similarities between the Merak and the Citroen SM.
7. It’s different but it bears the Maserati DNA
The Merak is definitely an odd-looking vehicle, of this there is no question, but it is every bit a Maserati to the core. With bespoke Quattroporte shooting brake giving it a unique styling, available in a two-door with an exotic sportiness, it bears the hallmark features of Maserati cars.
8. The SS didn’t show up until 1976
Although the Merak has been in production since 1972, it wasn’t until 1976 that the sporty SS version made its debut. It did not fail in its intention to impress and was offered in a choice of horsepower ranging from 190 to 220. Although not as fast as the Bora, the Merak SS was no slouch.
9. The Merak beat the Bora in lifespan
The Merak had a smaller engine than the Bora which came in an optional 4.7 liter V8, but it wasn’t about the speed or the torque. It was about a unique aesthetic with off-beat, yet seductive sportiness. It was also about having room for four people instead of two and being made available for both the haves and those that fall in between them and the have-nots. The lower price allowed more admirers to become owners. The Bora had lived out its life by 1978 and went out of production while the Merak marched on.
10. The car was a celebrity
Do you remember watching Top Gear? Think back to the episode involving the Budget Super Cars Challenge. If you haven’t seen it you can probably find it online. Jeremy Clarkson was driving a Merak SS in it.