1975 Maserati Khamsin
|Designer||Marcello Gandini at Bertone|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door 2+2 coupé|
|Layout||Front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive|
|Engine||4.9 L AM 115 V8 (petrol)|
|Transmission||5-speed ZF manual|
3-speed Borg Warner automatic
|Wheelbase||2,550 mm (100.4 in)|
|Length||4,400 mm (173.2 in)|
|Width||1,804 mm (71.0 in)|
|Height||1,180 mm (46.5 in)|
|Kerb weight||1,500 kg (3,307 lb)|
The Maserati Khamsin (Tipo AM120) is a grand tourer produced by Maserati between 1974 and 1982. The Khamsin had no direct successor, with Maserati not making another V8 grand tourer until the 1990 launch of the Shamal. Following Maserati's tradition it was named after a wind: the Khamsin, a hot, violent gust blowing in the Egyptian desert for fifty days a year.
The Khamsin was introduced on the Bertone stand at the November 1972 Turin Auto Show. Designed by Marcello Gandini, it was Bertone's first work for Maserati. In March 1973 the production model was shown at the Paris Motor Show. Regular production of the vehicle started only a year later, in 1974. The Khamsin was developed under the Citroën ownership for the clientele that demanded a front-engined grand tourer on the lines of the previous Ghibli, more conventional than the mid-engined Bora. In 1977 a mild facelift added three horizontal slots on the Khamsin's nose to aid cooling. Inside it brought a restyled dashboard and a new padded steering wheel. One Khamsin was delivered to Luciano Benetton in 1981. Despite the many improvements over its predecessor, the Khamsin didn't replicate its success; partly due to the concurrent fuel crisis that decreased demand for big V8 grand tourers. Production ended in 1982, with 435 vehicles made (a mere third of the Ghibli's 1274 examples production run) - 155 of whose had been exported to the United States.
Combined with the wide, almost all-glass rear hatch this gave exceptional rear visibility in comparison to most cars, especially similar sports cars. Cosmetic triangular vented panels are inlaid in the C-pillar, with the right-hand one hiding the fuel filler cap. Another distinguishing feature is the engine bonnet, pierced by asymmetrical vents. Design features as the wedge body, glazed tail panel and the location of the fuel filler cap all carry Gandini's signature, as they were all present on his earlier Lamborghini Espada. Despite being marketed as a 2+2, the leather-trimmed rear seats, nestled between the two fuel tanks, were found too lacking in headroom and legroom to be usable. The complete instrumentation included gauges for speedometer, tachometer, water temperature, oil temperature, oil pressure, voltmeter and a clock.
The Khamsin used an all-steel monocoque construction, with a rear Silentbloc-bushing insulated tubular subframe supporting the rear suspension and differential. Suspension was double wishbones all around - a major improvement over the Ghibli's leaf-sprung solid axle - with coaxial springs and shock absorbers (single upfront, double at the rear) and anti-roll bars.
The front-mid mounted engine gave the car a 50/50 weight distribution; it was pushed so far back towards the firewall that the full size spare tire could be stored beneath the radiator in front of it, thus freeing up space in the boot. Apart from the adoption of Bosch electronic ignition, Maserati's 4.9 L (4,930 cc) DOHC, 16-valve V8 engine was carried over from the Ghibli SS and delivered 240 kW (330 PS; 320 bhp) at 5500 rpm and 482.0 N⋅m (355.5 lb⋅ft) of torque at 4000 rpm. It was fed through four double barrel 42 DCNF 41 Weber carburettors and used dry-sump lubrication. As on the Ghibli the fuel tanks were two, but not of similar size. A small tank is on the right and it is connected to the main tank below the cargo floor, with a single fuel filler on the right hand side feeding directly the small tank. The double exhaust system ended with two resonators, each with twin exhaust tips. Power was routed to the rear wheels through a 5-speed, all syncromesh ZF manual gearbox with a single-plate dry clutch; a 3-speed Borg Warner automatic transmission was also available on request. Khamsins rode on 215/70 Michelin XWX tyres on 7½J 15" Campagnolo alloy wheels.
Having been developed under the Citroën ownership, the Khamsin made large use of its high-pressure hydraulic systems. The power steering used the Citroën SM's DIRAVI speed-sensitive variable assistance, which made steering lighter for easier parking and decreased its intervention with speed. The all-around vented disc brakes and the clutch command were both hydraulically actuated and assisted. The adjustable seats and the pop-up headlights were also hydraulically actuated. An adjustable steering column (an innovative feature at the time), air conditioning, electric windows, a radio and full leather upholstery were standard. Maserati claimed a 270 km/h (170 mph) top speed for the European-specification model.
Khamsin models destined for the United States were subject to significant design alterations to comply with newly enacted legislation with respect to bumper height/strength and placement of tail lights. Maserati and Bertone designer Marcello Gandini strongly objected to the NHTSA's decision prohibiting tail light assembly fitment in the rear vertical glass panel. After a lengthy and unfruitful appeal process, Maserati ultimately capitulated to obtain federalization of the Khamsin and introduce it to their most vital export market.
The federalized Khamsin went on sale in 1975. These models required fitting a solid version of the glass tail panel. The tail lights had to be moved downward, to the rear bumpers' former location; the new, protruding bumper was mounted below the tail lights. This new configuration of components left the exhaust tips unable to clear the bumper, a problem resolved flipping the exhaust resonators upside down. The front bumper was also replaced by a bigger one. Square side markers found their way on the front and rear wings. The engine had to be revised too, gaining smog control equipment (air injection, thermal reactors in the exhaust manifolds, different carburettors and leaner fuel mixture) and losing 5 hp.
American automotive publications and the buying public found this visually awkward arrangement to be an unattractive compromise compared with the intended design available to the rest of the world.
Variants and legacy
One Khamsin (chassis 1142) was professionally converted to a T-Top by Hurst Hatches on behalf of Bob Grossmann, the US west coast distributor of Maserati Automobiles in California. This vehicle sold at auction for EUR €195,500 (USD $221,200) in 2015.
Recent Khamsin sales reflect the car's rarity, including the 2015 auction of a non-running, low mileage car, sold for EUR €162,400 (USD $175,411) at Artcurial.
Luxembourg-based trading house Khamsin Capital is named after the founders' mutual appreciation of the Khamsin, which they believe to be the ultimate wedge-shaped supercar of the 70s.
- "The Khamsin". maserati-alfieri.co.uk. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
- "Maserati Khamsin". Maserati official site - About us: Heritage. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- "Salone, soffio di "vento caldo"". Stampa Sera (in Italian). 30 October 1972. p. 13. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
- "Maserati Khamsin". carsfromitaly.net. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
- "Maserati Khamsin" (PDF). Road & Track (road test). December 1975. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- "Maserati Khamsin!" (PDF). Motor Trend (road test). March 1976. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- "Jay Leno's Garage: 1975 Maserati Khamsin". youtube.com. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
- "Maserati Enthusiasts' Page". Maserati-alfieri.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-01-14.
- "Maserati Khamsin Spyder | Christie'S". Christies.com. Retrieved 2017-01-14.
- "Maserati Khamsin Coupé Lot 328; Bonhams". bonhams.com. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
- France. "RĂŠtromobile 2015 by Artcurial Motorcars - Sale N° 2651 - Lot N° 143". Artcurial. Archived from the original on 2017-01-16. Retrieved 2017-01-14.
- "Khamsin Capital". Khamsincapital.com. Retrieved 2017-06-28.
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