In the creative environment that coincided with the beginning of the 1970s, Maserati began work on the design of a car with high-performance sporting characteristics capable of dominating the hard-fought 3-liter class of the market. In order to avoid risks, the layout of the Merak, the name of a star in the constellation of Ursa Major, had more than one point in common with the company’s successful flagship, the Bora, and something beyond a simple resemblance. From its sister it took the undercarriage up to the doors, the same body and, with slight modifications, also the suspension and steering. The engine was the already classic 90-degree V6 of some three liters, initially developing 190 bhp for a maximum speed of 150 mph. Road holding and handling were both excellent; the car was quick and nimble, and great fun to drive.
The Geneva Salon of 1975 saw the debut of the most desirable Merak, the SS. Improvements included a reduction in overall weight of 336 pounds, an increase in power of 30 bhp, an increase in wheel and tire sizes to those of the Bora (with revised suspension settings to accommodate them), greatly improved instrumentation layout, interior, comfort and general build quality, and an increase in top speed. Weight distribution was also altered from 59/41 to 53/47 (front/rear) to make the car more evenly balanced than its sister, further enhancing the available performance over fast, winding roads.
Only some 250 SS versions of the Merak were produced before the model ceased to exist, as opposed to 1,309 of the normal 3000 and 102 of the Merak 2000 (built exclusively to avoid the over-2-liter tax in the Italian market). The SS model pictured here has been the subject of extensive restoration work in recent years, a photographic record of which is supplied.
The current owner purchased the car at a Coys auction three years ago, since when it has been regularly serviced and maintained by Maserati specialist Bill McGrath. The car is described as good to excellent and it is finished in the classic Italian racing red.