Starting as an elegant Ghia coupe that remains one of Giugiaro's best designs, then a twin-turbo V6 with Connolly leather for the nineties, followed by the first diesel sedan with the trident up front, the Ghibli has come a long way since 1966.
Named after a wind just like the rest of the Maseratis, the Ghibli debuted at the 1966 Turin Motor Show. Due to the limited resources, it shared its tubular frame with the Quattroporte sedan and the Mexico grand tourer. The body was the work of Ghia's new chief designer, Giorgio Giugiaro. Behind those gorgeous pop-up headlamps, Maserati fitted a 4.7-liter dual-cam V8 fed by four Weber carbs, which came straight from the 450 S, because racecar. That's why it had dry-sump lubrication as well, and 330 horsepower. Linked to a ZF five-speed manual, early Ghiblis could reach 60 mph under seven seconds. A limited-slip differential was standard too, and while wire wheels were available, most buyers went for the light magnesium Campagnolos.
With its low center of gravity (as it was only five inches taller than a Ford GT40), four disc brakes and 3,400 lb curb weight, the Ghibli handled corners just as well as straights, while overall performance was improved in 1970 with the introduction of the SS version. It had nothing to do with Nazis, but the horsepower figure was raised to 335 horses thanks to the now 4.9-liter V8. That made the Ghibli a 170 mph car right at the start of the seventies. Unreal.
In the last five years of the seven-year production run, Maserati also produced a convertible version in limited quantities. Only 100 Spyders and 25 SS Spyders were made, which makes these the most desirable of the Kamm-tailed bunch.
The 1992 Maserati Ghibli II doubled the original's production number easily at 2337. Known as the Tipo 336, this nineties coupe was an evolution of the the coke-flavored (and quite badly made) Biturbo from the previous decade, and had a 2.0-liter fuel-injected twin-turbo V6 up front with 306 horsepower. Outside Europe, it came with a 2.8 which only had 288 hp. Still, that was good for a 155 mph top speed.
1994 brought ABS, adjustable suspension and a fresh interior into the picture, but the best Ghibli II was certainly the Cup version that debuted in 1995. At 335 horsepower from the 2.0 unit, it had a higher power output per liter than a Jaguar XJ220 or the Bugatti EB110. Only 57 were produced with Brembo brakes, carbon fiber trim and firmer suspension for track use. If you happen to fun into a Ghibli with a bright blue paintwork and turquoise leather interior, that's one of the sixty Primatist editions, the last Ghimbli IIs produced from 1996 to 1997.
After seventeen years, the name got dusted down again. The 2014 Ghibli goes against BMW's M5 and sporty Jaguar sedans, with the company's first diesel and the possibility of a V8 petrol in the future.
A '71 SS for me, grazie!