Credit or blame it, this car inspired years of "folded paper" design
The Maserati Boomerang was first displayed as a non-functional model at the Turin Motor Show in 1971. By the Geneva Salon of March 1972, it had been transformed into a fully operational vehicle, fitted with the race-bred, 4.7-liter Maserati V8, developing no less than 310 hp. It was claimed to be good for an indicated top speed of 186 mph. One journalist observed that it looked as though it was already doing 100 while standing still.
Until 1974 it was successively shown at the Paris, London and Barcelona motor shows, and was unanimously praised for its audacity. It is often considered that this, the fourth sports car concept introduced by the young Italdesign firm after its inception, proved to be the most influential. Its unforgettable wedge-shaped body was the inspiration for some small series Maseratis and the Lotus Esprit, as well as the Volkswagen Golf.
Unlike now, it was not uncommon at the time for manufacturers and coachbuilders to sell their concept cars once they had served their purpose. After the Barcelona show, the Boomerang remained in Spain and was eventually sold to a cabaret owner in Benidorm. It then passed to a noted Maserati enthusiast, who discovered it during a holiday trip to Spain in 1980. After a careful restoration, it reappeared for the first time in the 1990 Bagatelle Concours in Paris, where designer Giorgetto Giugiaro was serving as a judge. He proudly hand-signed the rear panel.
Since then the Boomerang has been invited to most major events, including Pebble Beach, and has deservedly won numerous awards. In 2002 the Maserati Boomerang Concept passed into its current ownership. Upon acquisition, the car was found to require some refreshing of the older, largely cosmetic restoration. It was therefore entrusted to marque specialist Paul Grist's Traction Seabert company to be returned to usable order. Over a period of 18 months, the car was systematically worked through and perfected in terms of mechanical and electronic function. Early in 2003 this work was completed, at a cost of some £20,000 (approx. $32,000). Since then the car has been road-registered by the current owner.
Though road use is not its primary vocation, it is comforting to know that the car drives well. Its engine, transmission, suspension, brakes and steering all work as they should, as well as the electronics. The Boomerang does show some traces of use, but presents well and where possible is still as it was originally shown in the early 1970s.
It is extremely rare that a one-off masterpiece such as this, a fully engineered work of art with its unique pedigree, comes to the market. Following the Cisitalia in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Lotus in the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Boomerang would deserve a place in a museum and it would certainly enhance any collection in the world.
|Vehicle:||1972 Maserati Boomerang Concept|
|Original List Price:||N/A|
|Tune Up Cost:||$1,700|
|Chassis Number Location:||rear bulkhead|
|Engine Number Location:||side of engine block|
|Club Info:||Maserati Club International, P.O. Box 1015, Mercer Island, WA 98040|
|Alternatives:||1964 Alfa Romeo Canguro, 1968 Ferrari 250 P5 Pininfarina Concept|
This 1972 Maserati Boomerang Concept sold for $1,000,000 at Christie’s Retromobile auction, held February 12, 2005.
The Maserati Boomerang was a massively influential design which firmly established the reputation of the three-year-old Italdesign firm when it debuted in 1971. The car can be credited-or blamed, depending on your predilection-for years of “folded paper” design in cars.
Following its showing in Turin, it was turned into a “runner” by adapting the mechanicals of a Maserati Bora. While it was unusual to take such a step with a concept car, it fits the philosophy of Giugiaro, whose firm has built show cars that can actually be driven.
The Bora itself was launched in 1971, at a time when Citroën owned Maserati. A genuine 170-mph car, it featured a 310-hp, 4.7-liter V8 with four cams, as well as Citroën’s notorious hydraulics controlling the brakes, seats and pedals. Fitted into the otherworldly shape of the Boomerang, the package would certainly have made for a dramatic ride.
The Boomerang, now twice restored, has racked up a lot of frequent flier miles as a result of extensive show participation. It has appeared at the Bagatelle concours, at the Concorso Italiano in Carmel, CA, twice, and at Pebble Beach.
It last appeared at auction at the 2002 Christie’s Retromobile sale, where it brought $627,923. The new owner has since spent loads of cash executing a largely mechanical and electrical renovation to make the Boomerang a “real” driver. It is quite likely that this was actually the final development work that wasn’t done on the car back in 1972, because I’m sure no one at the time thought it would ever be seriously driven.
Why someone today would want to risk its one-off bodywork, glass and trim on the road, I’m not sure. And if you’re not going to drive it, about the only other thing you can do with a car like this is show it. Yet there aren’t many shows in the world where it hasn’t already been seen, at least of those you’d want to take it to. Indeed, what the Boomerang needs most is to go into storage for a while so it can once again be a surprise to encounter. By the time that happens, it would no doubt need a third restoration to get the kind of visual crispness a trophy contender needs to have.
Regardless of its uselessness, the Maserati Boomerang Concept is an important car. To quote the late Pat Braden, who profiled the Boomerang in these pages (June 2002) after it last sold: “Like any piece of art, this car is what it is. And in this case, that is an irreplaceable, significant expression of the talent of one of the seminal designers of our time.” As such, interest from potential buyers on both sides of the Atlantic was high.
In analyzing the sale price of the car, it’s worth taking a moment to look at the role that exchange rates play in our perception of values. It would seem that if this car sold in 2002 for $628k and now sells for $1m, it has appreciated considerably-by $372,000. In fact, considering that both sales took place in Paris and were transacted in euros, and that both the buyer and the seller are European, a different story emerges.
In 2002, the final price with buyer’s premium was ?716,382, while the 2005 sale was for ?781,250. Do the math and that’s only a ?64,868 climb, or about $85,627 at current exchange rates. Once commissions are factored in, chances are the seller, a European, actually lost money here when things are figured in euros. You can see why there isn’t more American money in the European marketplace right now. In spite of that, at least one of the close underbidders was an American.
After all, at $1,000,000 or ?781,250, if you wanted to own the 1972 Boomerang Concept, the price doesn’t matter-it’s the only one you can get.
(Descriptive information courtesy of the auction company.)