It is considered one of the prettiest GT coupes ever built, and certainly one of the prettiest of Maseratis. It’s the Ghibli, now celebrating the 55th anniversary of its launch Nov. 3, 1966 on the Ghia stand at the Turin Motor Show.
Why Ghia and not Maserati? Simple. Ghia designed the car under the watchful eye and skilled hands of Giorgetto Giugiaro.
Named for a powerful, warm wind in North Africa that brings with it a great deal of sand, the Ghibli was built from 1967 to 1972 as a replacement for the Mistral. The Ghibli’s long, sleek, fastback profile, hidden headlamps and wide grille cloaked some ordinary bits from the Mexico 2+2 coupe and Quattroporte sedan.
This means it uses a live rear axle on leaf springs in the rear. Nevertheless, it did use tubular construction, a double wishbone suspension, coil springs and an anti-roll bar in the front, similar to that of its sibling Maserati models.
Under the hood, rather than use the Mistral’s 255-horsepower 4.0-liter DOHC inline-6, the Ghibli was powered by a 330-hp DOHC 4.7-liter V-8 with four twin-choke Weber carburetors attached to a ZF 5-speed manual transmission and four-wheel disc brakes. A BorgWarner 3-speed automatic transmission was offered the following year.
Despite the fact the Ghibli outsold both the Ferrari Daytona and Lamborghini Miura upon its launch, bigger additions came for 1969.
It started with the addition of the Ghibli Spyder, which could be fitted with an optional hardtop. While pretty, the coupe still far outsold the new droptop through 1972; with more than 1,200 Ghibli coupes sold as opposed to 128 Ghibli Spyders. But the bigger news for the go-fast crowd was the arrival of the Ghibli SS, powered by a 4.9-liter V-8.
Rated at 335 hp and 354 pound-feet of torque, the American market SS produced less horsepower than European spec companions, although top speed increased to 175 mph, making the car the fastest production Maserati.
The Ghibli would remain in production through 1973, and retain its eternal good looks. In fact, Henry Ford II bought one and placed it in the lobby of the Ford Product Development Center in Detroit, as an example to follow and a source of inspiration.
A notable car penned by a notable designer
The Ghibli sprang from the pen of one of the industry’s leading car designers, one who is a member of the Automotive Hall of Fame.
Giorgetto Giugiaro began his career upon joining Fiat’s Special Vehicle Design Study Department in 1955. After four years, Nuccio Bertone lured the young designer to work at Gruppo Bertone.
There, Giugiaro worked on some of the 1960s most notable designs, including the Aston Martin DB4 GT Jet Concept, Ferrari 250 GT Concept, Chevrolet Corvair Testudo Concept, Alfa Romeo Sprint, and the Fiat 850 Spider.
In 1965, Giugiaro would leave Bertone to join Ghia, working on cars for DeTomaso and Maserati, most notably, the Ghibli. In 1967, he left Ghia, partnering with Aldo Mantovani to form Italdesign, later Italdesign Giugiaro, which would go on to create more 200 vehicles.
In 2020, The Volkswagen Group acquired a 90.1% stake in Italdesign Giugiaro S.p.A., Turin, with the remaining shares retained by the Giugiaro family.
1967 Maserati Ghibli
|Dimension||L: 180.7 inches/W: 70.8 inches/H: 45.6 inches/Wheelbase: 100.4 inches|
|Powertrain||4.7-liter DOHC V-8, 5-speed manual transmission, and rear-wheel drive|
|Performance Specs||330 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque|
|Acceleration/Top Speed||0-60 mph: 7.2 seconds; Top speed: 155 mph|
|Price||Price new: $16,900; Value today: $166,000-$220,000|
The model name survives, but is it a true Ghibli?
Maserati would revive the model as the Ghibli II in 1992, but the car’s chunky, if smooth, styling looked little like its sexy predecessor. Penned by Marcello Gandini, who designed the iconic Lamborghini Countach, it was powered by a 288-hp 2.8-liter V-6 engine and a 5-speed manual transmission or optional 4-speed automatic. The Ghibli II was built through 1998, when it was replaced by the Maserati 3200 GT.
Today’s Maserati Ghibli is a different animal, and the name’s use on a midsize four-door luxury sports sedan caused an uproar among the Maserati faithful. Debuting for 2013, the model remains in production today, offered in GT, Modena, Modena Q4 and Trofeo trim.
It features a 345-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 sending its power to the rear wheels. Opting for the Modena ups the ante to 424 hp with rear-wheel or “Q4” all-wheel drive. Topping the range is the Trofeo, fitted with a Ferrari-derived twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8 that sends 572 hp and 538 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. All Ghiblis come with a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission.
Base prices range from $78,000 for the GT, and top out at $112,700 for the Trofeo.