Total Production: 430 1974 - 1980 The Maserati Khamsin entered the scene in 1972 in concept form at the Bertone stand in Salone di Torino. It had been designed by Gandini, an employee of Bertone. In 1973 it was shown at the Paris Auto Show, this time it featured a Maserati badge. In 1974 production began and continued through 1982. The vehicle was a replacement for the Indy and Ghibli vehicle. The name 'Khamsin' is Egyptian and refers to a hot and violent wind in a south-easterly and south-westerly direction that blows in the desert regions of Egypt during alternating periods, for a total of 50 days a year.
The car had an adjustable steering column and hydraulic seats, innovative features at the time. Air-conditioning was standard on all the Khamsin's. The engine was the classic Maserati four-cam V8. It was placed in the front, but pushed back as far as possible to take advantage of better weight distribution. The spare tire was housed in the front, another reason to have the engine pushed back, allowing full utilization of the trunk. There were many parts borrowed from Citroen. The hydraulics seats, pop-up headlights, power steering, clutch and feel-free brakes were all Citroen influenced.
The interior of the vehicle was rather luxurious with its tinted windows, electrical windows, and an optional Borg Warner automatic transmission.
This rare supercar is truly unique with its luxury, luggage space, and 2+2 configuration. The demise of this vehicle can be traced back to oil crisis. When production finally ceased, only 430 examples had been created. By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2009When their company was founded, the Maserati brothers wanted nothing to do with well-mannered street cars. They, like so many grand Italian engineers of their time, wanted only to build the ultimate vehicles of passion: racecars for competition purposes. When building nothing but track cars became difficult, the Maserati brothers sold their firm and founded OSCA, a company with which they were able to continue the manufacture of their impractical dreams.
After the purchase from its founding brothers, it seemed that Maserati traveled further from its racy roots every time the company changed hands. By the time the Khamsin was unveiled, Maserati was owned by the odd French carmaker Citroën and had become known for making fast and luxurious GT cars. Though the racy image established by the founding brothers had been diluted, Maserati was working hard to maintain its new reputation.
During Citroën ownership, Maserati developed products with a decidedly strange look and feel about them. The Khamsin was no exception. In some ways, it was a classic grand touring Maser. Its race-bred V8, initially making 320bhp out 5 liters, felt and sounded the part of a thoroughbred. In other ways, though, the Khamsin was an oddity. Its sharp styling, with asymmetrical features, was sure to induce strong opinions in its beholders. Its complicated power steering system ensured that the car wouldn't drive quite like the typically pure Italian. Many of its oddities were welcomed innovations, though, and the Khamsin became one of Maserati's best fusions of classic prowess and Citroën-induced strangeness.
The power steering system just mentioned exhibited some forward-thinking features. Its ratio was speed variable. The Khamsin had low steering effort at low speeds to ease parking maneuvers and high steering effort at high speeds to increase road feel and precision on quick jaunts down the autostrada. The steering also featured a hydraulic servo-assist to return the wheels back to a straight position even when the car was still. While this latter feature may have been a needless complication, the speed variable assist of the Khamsin's steering system was a welcome idea that is featured on many cars today. Other bright engineering touches resulted in an engine that was pushed very close to the passenger compartment for a larger front crumple zone and better weight distribution, as well as an independent rear suspension setup featuring a sub-frame-mounted differential.
Equally fresh was the styling, penned by Bertone and first shown at Turin in 1972. As mentioned, the car's radical use of asymmetrical components, namely the front air intakes, divided audiences. The overall effect of the car was quite nice, though. The styling was angular and crisply pleated, with low-slung proportions that looked built for speed. The Khamsin's body was a marvel of efficiency, too. Beneath the sporting skin laid not only four seats, but also a large cargo hold offering good access through a large, glass hatchback. The spare tire was mounted up front, creating an even more generous luggage bay.
The Khamsin was a success. With only 430 produced, it didn't do much financially for Maserati. But it proved the ability of parent company Citroën to support the creation of a fine car combining classic Italian flair with distinct French innovation. The Khamsin was arguably the best thought-out and engineered car produced under Citroën's reign. It couldn't save Maserati from financial peril, though, and the once-proud company was bought out again by Alejandro De Tomaso shortly after the car's introduction.By Evan Acuña