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Video | The 1970s Maserati Ghibli Is Very Different From the Maserati of Today

I recently had the chance to drive a 1971 Maserati Ghibli , which is generally considered to be one of the most beautiful cars of all time. This is in stark contrast to current Maserati models, which have gotten quite common. Back in the 1970s, if you were cool, you had a Ferrari. And if you were only slightly less cool, you had a Maserati.

This opportunity came about thanks to Tomini Classics in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, home to some truly amazing inventory, who let me borrow their Ghibli for the day. As usual, I did my thing: I pawed around the car for a bit; I pressed some buttons, and then I drove the car. And at various moments, I took breaks from filming to look back at the Ghibli and think: Wow, this thing looks nice.

Indeed, its styling made it incredibly cool — and, like I said, it was one of the cars to have back in the 1970s. In Joe Walsh’s famous song, "Life’s Been Good" (which was released in 1978), possibly the most famous line is: My Maserati does 185 … I lost my license, now I can’t drive. That line likely refers to a Ghibli, or possibly the Khamsin which came out right after. I recently saw an interview with Joe Walsh where he discusses this song, and he doesn’t really mention whether he knew that the neither of these cars could actually hit 185 miles per hour — but, indeed they can’t; the Ghibli topped out around 174. That’s beside the point, though. The Ghibli looked like it could do 185 — and beyond.

And it drives like it, too. The Ghibli is a bit of an odd car in the sense that it’s larger than most sports cars of its day — like a grand tourer — but it has only two seats, like a real sports car. It drives like something in between, offering excellent steering feedback and acceleration — but it touts a little more interior room than the angry, aggressive Ferrari models of the time. It was the sports car for people who didn’t want to quite go full sports car.

But it had the design to back up its "Italian sports car" status; the Ghibli was penned by Marcello Gandini, who also gave us the Lamborghini Miura and Countach, and it’s generally considered one of the nicest-looking cars of all time, and certainly of its period. It’s also full of the typical quirks associated with Italian sports cars — like the fact that it has a trunk, rather than a hatchback, but the rear is open like a hatchback. Or the bizarre vestigial seats behind the front seats. They’re used for storage, but it looks like they were initially intended to be actual seats, then shelved at some point during the design process.

More importantly, the Ghibli represents a Maserati that most people still imagine when they hear the brand name. Just yesterday, I had someone excitedly tell me they saw a Maserati out in the wild, surely a modern Ghibli or a Quattroporte. For most car enthusiasts, that’s nothing to get excited about anymore — but for most people, the brand name is still as strong as ever, largely thanks to a history rooted in cars like the Ghibli. Indeed, this is truly the Maserati of yore, when the brand was as quirky and bizarre as any Italian automaker, and nearly as well-regarded as Ferrari. And I thoroughly enjoyed getting in the Tomini Classics time machine just to see what that version of Maserati was like — even if it was just for a few hours. Find a classic Maserati Ghibli for sale

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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11 COMMENTS

  1. It’s funny, I went to a local car show this weekend and there was an older gentleman there who had a black Ghibli just like this one.  I told him about your article here, and he said that he drove the exact one you drove a few months ago in Dubai, and on the way home had his “guy” who procures cars for him find him one because he loved this one so much.  I guess he was a road racing National Champion in one of the SCCA classes in the 1970’s and now has a collection of older exotics.  Just a pretty neat coincidence for such a rare collectible Maserati.

  2. Am I the only one who noticed that you can see the ground when he opened up the rear storage under the leather boxes? This car is rusted out. 

  3. My guess for those rear vents would be to pull air through the car when the quarter windows are open. Otherwise you’d just get a lot of wind noise and not a lot of airflow

  4. So this is the brand prestige that Maserati is bragging about to sell $80,000 Cars and SUVs that don’t even come standard with items on a $18000 Corolla. Huh? 

    I guess every luxury manufacturer is guilty of the same in some way – BMW, Mercedes, Audi, even Ford/Chevy but at least they all have something they sell currently that they can brag about too, not only past successes.   
    Fun fact – their current high-performance “SuperCar” the GranTurismo has been out since 2007 and based off the Quattroporte V that came out in 2003. It can also probably be beat by a new ’18 Mustang GT, not to mention a base Corvette.

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