The Sphinx may remain an enigma, but the hot wind that has eroded it for centuries is well known as the khamsin. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Maserati is as hot as its namesake, but is its price enigmatic?
There was nothing enigmatic about yesterday's '63 Rambler American vote, although why the poll didn't show up for some of you remains quite puzzling. Despite Polldaddy's recalcitrance at letting you vote, the non-running Rambler did manage to run away with a 61% Nice Price win. American, eff-yeah!
Today we're looking at a car that's about as far removed as one can get from that Arizona Rambler, and not just because it's currently located in Gaylordsville Connecticut. In addition to being physically distant, this 1977 Maserati Khamsin looks to be in much better shape than that Rambler. It also appears to be a runner, giving it a leg up on the whole getting it home thing. Lastly, the Maser is 22 times more expensive to Buy-It-Now than was yesterday's AMC.
There are ways in which the two cars are similar. They both share upright back glass, although in the case of the Khamsin, it is fixed. Both cars are front engine-rear wheel drive, and each comes from a challenger brand that attempted to compete with the big boys.
But there, the similarities end.
Maserati has had a rocky existence and has gone through more stewards than the Love Boat. At the time this Khamsin was built, Citroën still managed the company, and the car's steering and brakes reflect the French maker's influence. The DIRAVI power steering provides variable boost and a pretty creepy road feel around town. It's also self-centering in case you're really lazy. Other Citroën touches are the hydraulically assisted clutch, seat adjusters and headlight poppers. However, like the Bora with which it shares its quad cam V8, the Khamsin eschews the French company's high-pressure suspension system for steel springs.
That V8 is a pretty sweet motor, and is considered to be bullet-proof. A dry sump allows the 4.9-litre, 320-bhp, alloy eight to hunker down in the car, keeping the center of gravity as low as possible. The ZF five speed bolts to the back of the motor and power is carried back to a sub frame-mounted differential and double wishbone IRS. That powerplant – late of the Ghibli SS – could push the 3,604-lb coupe to a top speed of around 170-mph, a number that still impresses today.
In fact, the entire car remains pretty damn impressive. The Marcello Gandini penned body still looks electric, although the rear end on U.S. cars like this one is made heavy as the tail lights have been moved from floating in the rear glass to the space originally intended for the non-federal bumper to occupy. Below that is the battering ram required by the then-current 5-mph bumper standards. In 1977 the Khamsin underwent a minor styling update and this car exhibits the three-slat grille that was added in the change. Underneath that, and the big black front bumper, is a trap door that allows access to the car's spare tire, oddly stored there in the nose. As far as rust is concerned on this car, the tin worm has sent in recon scouts, but doesn't appear to have established a beachhead yet. Regardless, the new owner should take measures to ensure that the red menace invasion is repelled.
The styling of the interior has survived the years a little less successfully than the exterior, but here the car's leather surfaces look pretty good. The Khamsin has a pair of occasional seats in the back, but don't put anybody back there that you think might seek revenge as it's kind of a penalty box for space.
As noted, this is an uber-rare five speed edition, and as there were only a total of 435 cars built between 1974 and 1982, you'd be getting something pretty unique. Along with that uniqueness the seller notes that you'd additionally be getting a bunch of refreshed parts including the clutch and all six of the shocks. With only 22K on the clock, it's been time, not miles, that have taken their toll.
Khamsin's are kind of the red-headed stepchildren of '70s exotic GT coupes, lacking a V12 under the hood and a writhing animal for a mascot, but that just means they might end up being better deals. The deal here is that somebody better come up with $36,500 if they want to take this trident-wearing two door home.
So what do you think about that price? For that kind of bank is this Khamsin a Maserati that blows your skirt up? Or, does it just blow?
Help me out with NPOCP. Click here to send a me a tip, and remember to include your commenter handle.