Darin Schnabel © 2015, courtesy of Auctions America
With production of the Maserati Ghibli ending in 1972, Maserati started to develop a new front-engine vehicle. The replacement Khamsin was styled by Marcello Gandini, and it debuted in 1972 at the Turin Auto Show, but it was not sold until 1974. The Khamsin would be Maserati’s first front-engine car with full independent rear suspension. Powering this Maserati is a sleek V8 engine that is backed by a 5-speed manual gear box. The car is loaded with AM/FM radio, power windows, alloy wheels, rack-and-pinion steering, and disc brakes all around. The maroon paint on the exterior appears to be original to the car. The interior is finished with tan leather and accented with a wood-grain dash and console. The carpet, door panels and headliner are all in very nice condition. This distinctive Maserati would benefit from a freshening. Of late note, it is disclosed that even though this car is left-hand drive, it was sold new in the U.K. It is further acknowledged that this combination is both “highly unusual and very cool.” It was not unheard of for people living in the U.K. — but who traveled a lot in mainland Europe — to order a left-hand-drive car. It was sold new in November 1976 by Modena Concessionaires in London in Rosso Rubino (Ruby Red) with Senape (mustard) interior. It is still presented in its original colors. It is further stated that this is the first time in approximately 15 years that the ultimate Khamsin-spec, a European 5-speed version, is being offered at auction in the United States.

SCM Analysis


Years Produced:1974–82
Number Produced:421
Original List Price:$100,000–$125,000
Tune Up Cost:$1,500
Chassis Number Location:Plate on left-hand wheelwell in engine compartment
Engine Number Location:Same as chassis
Club Info:Maserati Club International
Alternatives:1972 Ferrari 365 GTC/4, 1967–73 Maserati Ghibli, 1974 Citroën SM
Investment Grade:C

This car, Lot 458, sold for $137,500, including buyer’s premium, at Auctions America’s Fort Lauderdale, FL, sale on March 28, 2015.

In a market known for new world records and disappearing “bargains,” the concept of “rising tides lift all boats” is often cited when a previously chronically undervalued vehicle shows significant value appreciation in what seems to be a short period of time.

Longtime readers of my work — and faithful sufferers you are — have noted that I have put myself squarely in the “Maseratis are underappreciated and hence undervalued” camp for decades. Even the really expensive examples of the marque still seem discounted when compared with some of their competitors from Maranello or Newport Pagnell.

Soldiering on with the Khamsin

At a time when Ferrari had run from the United States market with its tail tucked between its ample flanks and offered only the 308 GT4 in place of its main 12-cylinder offerings, Maserati soldiered on, sailing forward in the face of adversity.

Replacing the well-loved and popular Ghibli was no small matter.

Marcello Gandini’s finely detailed and elegant design for Bertone was the first Maserati clothed by the Torino-area firm. In original European trim, it is every bit the design equal of Giugiaro’s masterful Ghibli. Note that I mentioned the European trim. While Maserati soldiered on under the increasingly annoying U.S. car regulations, they did have consequences.

The federal government brain trust decreed that the really clever rear fascia glass panel which Gandini designed for the Khamsin could not hold the taillight units. Why? Who remembers?

For U.S.-delivery models, the taillights moved down to where the bumpers were, and the bumpers moved down to where, well, nothing was. The overall effect was less than wonderful, and it’s small wonder that many U.S.-delivery examples have now been modified to conform to the original design. This is not a simple job, but it can be accomplished for under $5,000.

A great driver — if maintained

Nonetheless, the driving dynamics of the Khamsin, regardless of bumpers, are superb. It delivers everything you’d expect of Maserati’s flagship model. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Citroën hydraulic assists are not onerous to maintain — if they have been regularly cared for. A substantial discount must be taken for a car fitted with the automatic transmission, although it does suit the relaxed, grand-touring nature of the Khamsin.

The Khamsin is also a rare car, with only 421 built, compared with 1,170 Ghibli coupes. The survival rate has been high, but still there are very few around.

As has been the case with the market as a whole, the impressive rise in Khamsin prices hasn’t been a uniform occurrence. In addition, a sale at $91k is noted in the SCM Platinum Auction Database back in 2010, with another the next year at $19k — which was called “well sold.” This market is as stratified as all the others, and it’s very much a case of a particular car in a certain place at an exact time.

You can still get an inexpensive example — which will prove in no short time not to be cheap at all — or you can spend what seems to be an outrageous sum and get the best one available.

A museum refugee with needs

Based on the catalog description and photos, this particular car seems to inhabit an area somewhere in between inexpensive and outrageous, which is not necessarily a place one might want to be at this point.

This Maserati came from the collection of the Cayman Motor Museum on Grand Cayman Island, which has been closed for renovations. From the catalog images, the bodywork appeared relatively straight, although the left door fit was a bit off, and the interior showed wear somewhat in excess of the indicated 40,000 km (24,854 miles).

What really spoke of its inactive museum life were the photos of the engine compartment, which showed a distinct resemblance to a recently unearthed Egyptian tomb. It’s likely that the recommissioning will be a lengthy and expensive one.

So, the price for this car sits just below the middle between the most recent high-water mark of $244k achieved at Bonhams Spa, Belgium, in May 2014 (SCM# 243941) and the low of $94k for an example sold at the H&H Duxford, U.K., sale in April 2014 (SCM# 243493).

The Bonhams car was described as the best seen at auction, and the H&H Duxford Khamsin was a pretty dodgy — but RHD — model.

So after spending another $100k on restoration work, could our Caribbean museum escapee be a best-in-show candidate? Maybe. A very good example should be available at around $120k in the U.S.. However, most dealers advertising Khamsins for sale in Europe have them listed as “inquire,” which indicates that the market changes daily.

Think of the Khamsin as a vessel in a canal lock being filled with water — it is sure to rise — but be sure to check to see if the bilge plugs are tight on the one you choose. Nightmares still lurk, but the appeal of this rare 1970s express is finally showing through — and it’s about time. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Auctions America.)

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