Beta Ursae Majoris, better known as Merak, is a star in the constellation, Ursa Major, also better known as the Big Dipper. Its namesake, today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe
Maserati Merak, is located much closer than that, but is its price too big a dip into your wallet?
In an interesting contrast, today's Maser, and yesterday's 1998 Ford Contour SVT PPG car both have quad-cam V6 engines that produce in the neighborhood of 200 horsepower. Aside from that, they have nothing in common and the seller of the Merak probably hopes that it won't share the Ford's overwhelming 90% Crack Pipe loss.
Back in the late sixties Maserati had a brilliant idea; bring to market a new V8 super car in replacement of the fabulous Ghibli - and introduce a new smaller V6-engine car to slot beneath it - and have them share the entire front half. The similarities between the Bora and Merak were as numerous as their differences were important - the ballsier car having two extra cylinders where the lessor one squeezed in a pair of tiny seats.
The early seventies saw the emergence of lower-priced, smaller-engined 2+2s from each of the ‘big three' Italian exotic makers - Ferrari with the 308 GT4, Lamborghini, the Uracco, and Maserati, the Merak. All were a reaction to global pressures on consumptive super cars, and Porsche's successful 911.
The Merak and Bora were developed under Maserati's ownership by the French, and the early cars exhibit a lot of Citroën's weirdness, including hydropneumatic brakes, clutch, and headlight actuation. The Merak's 3.0-litre V6 was shared with Citroen's SM as was the dashboard and single spoke steering wheel. Bodywork for both cars was done by Giugiaro, the Bora getting a massive clamshell with sneeze-guard glass, while the Merak received a less-costly flying buttress set up linking roofline with tail. The Merak also has a pair of pretty useless seats in the back, which push the driver's and front passenger's feet awkwardly toward the centerline due to the wheelwells encroching on the cabin space.
This 1979 Merak SS was built not under Citroën ownership but that of Alejandro deTomaso, which is sort of like going out of the crepe pan and into the fuego. Post-Citroën Meraks toss out the SM dash for that of the Bora, and by this time the hydro-neurotic brakes, clutch, et al had also been ditched in favor of traditional, only breaks because its Italian parts.
Sporting two-tone paint, and a claim of either 55,000 miles or kilometers, this SS looks to be in prime shape if the pictures are to be believed. The seller says he has had it in heated storage all the time he has owned it, although it's unclear if he means storage like in garaged, or like in squirreled away for a rainy day. Considering the mileage/kilomage I think it's the former.
The SS rocked an updated version of Maserati's compact V6 giving this car a hypothetical 217-bhp with which to play, should the engine be as strong as when it left Modena. Behind that is a 5-speed transaxle which may or may not have originated with Citroën. The ad is frustratingly vague as to the car's condition, but it at least doesn't specifically call out any major boogers like non-running condition or gypsy infestation.
One of the oddest aspects of the ad is the seller's entreaty that he will entertain trading the car for museum-quality naval ship models in lieu of cash. Absent such bottled boats, buyers will have to come up with $21,500 Canadian, which presently in American dollars works out to about. . . $21,500. At over 25-years old, importing the car from our neighbors to the north shouldn't be much of an issue, unless of course you live someplace like California where the cut-off for non-compliant cars is 1975.
So, what's your take on this semi-mysterious Merak for $21,500? Does that price make this car a star? Or, is it so shockingly high you just dropped a brown dwarf in your pants?
H/T to Alan Lamers for the hookup!
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