Maserati Merak

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Maserati Merak
Maserati Merak red front (2009-10-03).jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Maserati
Production 1972-1983
1830 made
Designer Giorgetto Giugiaro at Italdesign
Body and chassis
Class Sports car
Body style 2-door 2+2 coupé
Layout MR layout
Related Maserati Bora
Citroën SM
Powertrain
Engine 3.0 L V6 petrol
2.0 L V6 petrol
Transmission 5-speed Citroën manual
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,600 mm (102.4 in)
Length 4,335 mm (170.7 in)
Width 1,768 mm (69.6 in)
Height 1,134 mm (44.6 in)
Kerb weight 1,400–1,430 kg (3,086–3,153 lb) (dry)

The Maserati Merak (Tipo AM122) is a mid-engined 2+2 sports car produced by Maserati between 1972 and 1983.[1] The Merak was closely related to the Maserati Bora, sharing part of its structure and body panels, but was powered by a 3.0 L V6 in place of the latter's 4.7 L V8. The extra cabin space gained by fitting a smaller and compact powertrain was used to carve out a second row of seats - suitable for children or very small adults - making the Merak not just a less expensive alternative to the Bora but also a 2+2.

History[edit]

The Maserati Merak was introduced at the 1972 Paris Auto Show, over a year after the Bora.[1] The Merak and the Bora share the front part of bodyshell up to the doors. The front ends are differenced mainly by the use of dual chrome bumpers in place of twin trapezoidal grilles, but the similarities end at the B-pillar. Giorgetto Giugiaro at Italdesign was commissioned the transformation of his last work the Bora into the Merak. Unlike its bigger sister the Merak doesn't have a true, fully glassed fastback, but rather a cabin ending abruptly with a vertical rear window and a flat, horizontal engine bonnet pierced by four series of ventilation slats. Giugiaro completed the vehicle's silhouette by adding open flying buttresses, visually extending the roofline to the tail. The main competitors of the Merak were the similarly Italian, mid-engined, 3-litre and 2+2 Dino 308 GT4 and Lamborghini Urraco P250.[2] However unlike its transverse V8-engined rivals the Merak used a more compact V6, that could therefore be mounted longitudinally.

Having been designed during the Citroën ownership of Maserati (1968–1975) certain Citroën hydropneumatic systems were used in the Merak, as for the Bora. In specific the braking system and the clutch were both hydraulically assisted and operated, and the pop-up headlights hydraulically actuated. After 1976, when the French manufacturer gave up control of Maserati, the Citroën-derived parts were gradually replaced by more conventional systems. In 1977 Alejandro de Tomaso purchased Maserati and the Bora was discontinued after a production run of less than 600 cars, while the Merak remained on sale for six more years.

Specifications[edit]

The Merak used a steel monocoque construction paired to a rear tubular subframe supporting the powertrain and rear suspension. This was of unequal length A-arms type all around, with coaxial coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers. The braking system consisted of discs on both axles, the front ones vented. Wheels were cast light alloy Campagnolo 7½J x 15", fitted with Michelin XWX tyres measuring 185/70 at the front and 205/70 at the rear. The compact spare tire was stored in the engine compartment, above the transmission.

The tail of an early Merak

The Merak's V6 engine descended from the 2.7 L Tipo C.114 originally designed by Giulio Alfieri in 1967 for use in the Citroën SM, that was bored out to 91.6 mm (piston stroke remained 75 mm) to displace 3 litres (2,965 cc).[1] It was a chain-driven double overhead camshaft, 12-valve unit featuring an unusual 90° angle between the cylinder banks. The lubrication system used a wet sump and an oil cooler. This V6 did not end its days on the Merak: it was later modified and made into the first ever production twin-turbocharged engine in the Biturbo, ending its career in the 1990s Ghibli after reaching the highest specific output of any production engine at the time. The powerplant was mounted longitudinally behind the passenger compartment, and joined through a single-plate dry clutch to a 5-speed, all syncromesh Citroën transaxle gearbox and a limited-slip differential.

Models[edit]

Merak[edit]

The original Merak's three-litre engine produced 190 PS (140 kW; 187 hp) at 6000 rpm and 26 kg·m (255 N·m; 188 lb·ft) at 4000 rpm.[1] Three twin-choke Weber carburettors (one 42 DCNF 31 and two 42 DCNF 32) fed the engine, and the compression ratio was 8.75:1. Maserati declared a top speed of over 240 km/h (149 mph). Early Meraks (1972 to 1975) were fitted with Citroën SM's dashboard, characterized by oval instrument gauges inset in a brushed metal fascia and a single-spoke steering wheel. 630 were made up to 1974.

Merak SS[edit]

Maserati Merak SS

The lightened and more powerful Merak SS (Tipo AM122/A) was introduced at the 42nd Geneva Motor Show in March 1976. It featured a 50 kg weight reduction and a 30 PS power increase to 220 PS (162 kW; 217 hp), thanks to the adoption of three larger 44 DCNF 44 carburettors and a higher 9:1 compression ratio.[3] The SS was recognizable from a black grille between the pop-up headlights. A Maserati-designed upper fascia with round instruments and a four-spoke steering wheel replaced the previous SM-derived interior furniture. Later cars were bestowed with the full driver-oriented dashboard and three-spoke padded steering wheel of the Maserati Bora.[3] The US-spec version of the Merak SS also saw a return to traditional hydraulics, eliminating the last of the Citroen high pressure system. 1000 units of the SS had been made by 1983, when all Merak production ceased.

Merak 2000 GT[edit]

Maserati Merak 2000 GT

In 1977 at the Turin Auto Show De Tomaso launched the Merak 2000 GT (Tipo AM122/D), basically a Merak with a smaller two-litre powerplant. It was built almost exclusively for the Italian market, where a newly introduced law strongly penalized cars with engine capacity over 2000 cc by subjecting them to a 38% Value Added Tax against the usual 19% VAT.[4] The Merak's competitors already offered similar two-litre models, specifically the Urraco P200 and Dino 208 GT4. The Merak 2000 GT featured a 1,999 cc (122.0 cu in) engine generating 170 PS (125 kW; 168 hp) at 7000 rpm and 19 kg·m (186 N·m; 137 lb·ft) at 4000 rpm, obtained de-stroking and de-boring the V6 to 80x66.3 mm.[4] Colour choice was limited to two shades: metallic light blue or gold. The two-litre cars were also distinguished by a black tape stripe running just below the mid-body character line, matte black bumpers in place of the usual chrome and the absence of the front spoiler, available as an optional. The SS's front bonnet with the grille between the headlights was used on 2000 GTs. When production ended in 1983 just 200 Meraks 2000 GT had been made.[4]

Today's market[edit]

On today's market the Maserati Merak does not enjoy the same value as the V8 Bora. Pricing on average is half the value of a Bora in similar condition. This is partly due to the cars' smaller V-6 powerplant. The Merak is also more common than the Bora, with about 1,830 manufactured over the 1972 to 1983 period. A recent auction price of 44,080 Euro for a 1977 Merak was achieved at the Artcurial Motorcars auction on 3 February 2012 in Paris.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Maserati Merak". Maserati official site - About us: Heritage. Retrieved 2014-09-16. 
  2. ^ "Three small exotic GTs". Road & Track (road test). September 1975. Retrieved 2014-09-16. 
  3. ^ a b "Maserati Merak SS". Maserati official site - About us: Heritage. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  4. ^ a b c "Maserati Merak 2000 GT". Maserati official site - About us: Heritage. Retrieved 2011-10-20.