Total Production: 1,666 1974 - 1982 Maserati introduced the Merak at the Paris Auto Show in 1972 as a junior supercar to its larger Bora sibling. Its 2+2 configuration, six-cylinder engine, and mid-engine placement made it civilized, usable, and affordable compared to the Seventies crop of Italian supercars. Its styling resembled its V8-powered Bora sibling, penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro's Ital Design studio in Turin, but without the Bora's rear clamshell, replaced by a flat decklid and flying buttress arrangement.
Breaking with tradition, the new Merak was named after a star in the Plough constellation. By the time production ceased in 1983, 1,830 examples had been produced.
From 1968 through 1975, Maserati was under the ownership of Citroen, allowing them to use the Citroen parts bin. The Merak's six-cylinder engine was a descendent of the 2.7-liter Tipo C.114 originally designed by Giulio Alfieri in 1957 for use in the Citroen SM. Bored out to 91.6mm, the Merak's V6 version developed 2,965cc and initially offered 187 horsepower at 6,000 RPM and 255 Nm of torque at 4,000 RPM. It used three twin-choke Weber carburetors (one 42 DCNF 31 and two 42 DCNF 32), and an 8.75:1 compression ratio. The V6 was mounted longitudinally behind the passenger compartment and used chain-driven double overhead camshafts, 12 valves, and a wet sump and an oil cooler. It had a 90-degree angle between the cylinder bank. The five-speed, all-synchromesh Citroen transaxle gearbox had a single-plate dry clutch.
Citroen's influence extended to the use of hydropneumatic systems on the Merak and early Merak SS. The pop-up headlights hydraulically actuated, and the braking system was hydraulically assisted and operated. Many of these components were replaced after 1976 when Citroen gave up control of Maserati.
The dashboards used on the Citroen SM were used on the early left-hand-drive Merak, with oval instrument gauges and a single-spoke steering wheel. Right-hand-drive Meraks had a three-spoke steering wheel and the same dashboard used in the Bora. In 1975 the interior dash was redesigned to eliminate some of the frustrations caused by the hard-to-read gauges and too many warning lights.
In March of 1975, at the Geneva Motor Show, Maserati introduced the Merak SS (Tipo AM122/A). It had a weight reduction of 50 kg, a black grille between the pop-up headlights, the adoption of three larger 44 DCNF 44 carburetors, a higher 9:1 compression ratio, and an increase in power to 217 bhp. The interiors had a four-spoke steering wheel and later examples received a redesigned dashboard and three-spoke padded steering wheel of the Maserati Bora.
The Maserati Merak 2000 GT was built exclusively for the Italian market to comply with new engine displacement taxation laws. Cars that exceeded the 2,000cc limit were subjected to a 38 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) compared to the usual 19-percent VAT. To comply, the engine was de-stroke and de-bored, resulting in a 1,999cc displacement and horsepower dipping to 168 hp. Only two color choices were available, including gold or metallic light blue. Approximately 200 examples of the 2000 GT were built by the time production ceased in 1983.
The Merak was Maserati's final mid-engine road car until the introduction of the MC12. By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2007