1981 Maserati Merak SS
6-cyl. 2966cc/220hp 3x2bbl Weber
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The Merak was the result of Maserati’s decision to market a lower cost alternative to the V-8 Bora. Introduced at the Paris show in 1972, the beautiful Giugiaro-penned Merak shared most of its sheet metal with the Bora, the notable difference being a buttress treatment behind the cockpit as opposed to the Bora's complicated and costly clamshell engine cover. Cost was kept in check by utilizing a 3-liter, 190-hp version of the V-6 that Maserati had developed for (Maserati's then-owner) the Citroen SM. Similarly, the car's dashboard, steering wheel, transaxle, and hydraulic boosted steering and brakes were sourced from Citroen. The combination of a smaller V-6 riding in the Bora chassis allowed Maserati to nominally add a small pair of rear seats to the Merak.
This first generation Merak went on sale in the U.S. in 1974 and lasted largely unchanged through 1976. In 1977, the higher powered, 220-hp Merak SS appeared at U.S. dealers, and it can easily be distinguished from the previous car by its "SS" badging, front spoiler, flat engine cover, and an interior that disposed of all Citroen pieces in favor of those of the Bora. Some like the quirky Citroen influence of the early cars, but these later SS cars with Bora interiors tend to command a premium in the U.S. market.
Prospective owners should look out for body panel rust, cam chain issues, and thermal reactors on earlier U.S.-spec cars that might still conceivably carry this add-on emissions equipment installed. Compared to a Maserati Bora, the Merak represents a bargain for those looking to experience a mid-engined Maserati, and they are an attractive alternative for those looking to experience a 1970s Italian exotic that isn't quite as ubiquitous as the Ferrari 308.